Thu. Feb 29th, 2024
Co-op student lives the dream with Ontario Parks

In today’s post, Daniel Miller shares his experience as a co-op student at the Ontario Parks Northwest Zone Office.

Since I started visiting Ontario parks, I have been interested in the people who help them operate.

The workers: behind the desks, driving the park’s white trucks, educating visitors about the various plants and animals, all doing their part to give campers a memorable visit.

To me, it seemed like a very inviting atmosphere, and it wasn’t long before I spent the summer and eventually a semester of high school working in that environment.

My first job was none other than as a park ranger at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, where I had previously spent countless hours as a camper and day visitor. I had the pleasure of spending the summer working as a gate attendant, which gave me first-hand experience of park operations and introduced me to the many careers available at Ontario Parks.

The advantages

In my summer position, I learned important skills and discovered all the fun activities available in the park. Some enjoyable ways to spend my time in the park included walking or biking to the top of the Giant, swimming in various lakes and bays (some are much colder than others, especially Lake Superior), and, best of all, enjoying of the incredible landscape.

Whether it was gaining valuable work experience or making new friends with my coworkers, it was always easy to find ways to make my summer worthwhile.

At the end of my second summer working at Sleeping Giant, I became very interested in continuing this career once the season was over. So when I heard about the opportunity to pursue this passion during the school year, I was more than eager to do it.

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Observation point

A cooperative in Ontario Parks

A co-op placement, where you would work two periods of the day, is a great option for high school students like me. Once I realized the co-op was a possibility, I immediately looked for a position at Ontario Parks.

Once my position was confirmed, I suddenly found myself looking forward to the next school year. I spent the last semester of my senior year working for Ontario Parks!

My co-op was held at the Northwest Zone Office located in Thunder Bay, just a short drive from the school. After spending the first part of the day in class, I headed to the office.

My job largely consisted of administrative tasks, such as handling mail and finding different ways to help keep the office organized, while also being available to help with other areas of the office.

Above all, my co-op placement acts as a learning experience for me. I found it a remarkable opportunity to see behind the scenes of park operations while interacting with people I probably wouldn’t meet as a ranger while at Sleeping Giant.

Kabeyun Trail at Sleeping Giant

Collaborating with ecologists, GIS technicians, and natural heritage education leaders has given me a deeper understanding of the available careers found at Ontario Parks. I was even asked to write this blog post for OP’s website!

Some highlights

In addition to gaining office experience, I had the opportunity to visit our provincial parks in the area, including a staff excursion to Sleeping Giant as part of a health and wellness day.

I was also recently supporting an overnight trip to Wabakimi Provincial Park, assisting the park biologist. We spent the day canoeing and walking through the park to install songmeters, a device that records the acoustics of various birds in the area.

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A crucial career step

As a student, a summer park position is a great introduction to Ontario parks. For me, a co-op placement has been the next step toward a possible career with Ontario Parks in the future. Both options offer great exposure to park operations, both in an office workplace and in outdoor field work.

Whether you are looking for a summer job or an alternative way to earn high school credits, working with Ontario Parks is a great experience that I would recommend to anyone.

We were delighted to welcome Daniel back to Sleeping Giant as a door attendant this summer! Interested in joining the Ontario Parks team? Applications for the 2023 summer season are now open!