ANTIGONISH, N.S. - She may be spending the majority of her time on beaches these days, but, for St. F.X. student Brenna Martell, it’s not about sunning and relaxing.
Going into her fourth year, the Bachelor of Arts in aquatic resources, public policy and social research student is working for Bird Studies Canada (birdscanada.org), on northeast Nova Scotia and western Cape Breton beaches, doing surveys regarding the piping plover.
The piping plover is endangered so Martell’s research is dealing with questions such as; why are the birds important, what measures can be taken to track them and understand their population decline, and what should people know as it becomes beach season across the province.
Noting she loves “being out in the field”, Martell described her summer job as a “perfect opportunity.”
“Originally, I wasn’t in the aquatic research program but I decided I wanted to do something with the environment and Lynn [Patterson – administrative assistant, aquatic resources department], kind of, passed along this information to me; it sounded like the perfect merger of doing public policy and working with the environment hands-on,” Martell said, of the Bird Studies Canada job.
She noted the position goes for the duration of the summer.
“Every year, they gather data to establish where the population is so, next year, I’m hoping to get back on with them as well … that’s up in the air,” Martell, a Cape Breton native, said.
“My job will end in the middle of August; that is when the birds fly back down south. But I’m hoping I’ll get to continue my research protecting plovers on my own terms; find a professor and do some work with them as well.”
As to whether this is the type of work she’ll pursue upon graduation next spring, Martell said the on-site/hands-on aspect is definitely something she’ll look for.
“My ideal job would be out in the field physically; I love my job right now,” she said.
“Surveying beaches, getting up every morning at 6 a.m. and walking the beach looking for birds … it has become a favourite thing for me. Paper work is fine too, but being out in the field, working with the birds, is great.”