Today’s Green Antilles interview is with Megan Trotman, a young professional at the start of her environmental career. Megan, who grew up in Barbados, graduated in May 2018 with a degree in Environmental Science from Memorial University of Newfoundland, and is is currently working as an intern at the University of Belize.
Please tell Green Antilles readers a little about yourself, and about the kind of work you’ve done with the environment so far in your career.
I am an individual who is passionate about preserving the marine environment for generations to come. Throughout my career I have had many wonderful opportunities that have allowed me to fulfill my passion.
On holiday from university in Barbados, I would volunteer at Barbados Blue Water Sports. Here I assisted guests on dives, conducted reef censuses and coral reef restoration activities.
Whilst studying at Memorial University, I have worked as a research assistant on different environmental research projects. My favorite position entailed measuring the influence of competition between different species of bumble bees in Western Newfoundland.
After my degree, I worked as a project officer at the Future Centre Trust. I assisted in managing and carrying out projects that focused on raising awareness of the need for sustainable ways of living in Barbados. Currently, I am working as a tourism intern at the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) of the University of Belize.
What first sparked your interest in working with the environment?
There are many different events in my life that sparked my interest in working with the environment.
In my childhood, my brother, sisters and I often explored rockpools of Long Beach near home and went on picnics to the seaside as a family. It was my first dive with my dad and brother that opened my eyes to the magic of the underwater world. All the colors, shapes and forms! It was simple. I wanted to know more about this world.
After CXCs, I chose to study Environmental Science at Memorial University of Newfoundland. It was here that I realized I wanted to pursue a career studying the marine environment after completing several marine related courses.
My time volunteering at Barbados Blue Water Sports was very special to me. Here was where I really gained an appreciation for marine flora and fauna, earned my rescue dive certification and participated in coral reef restoration projects. This experience had further encouraged me to peruse work in marine conservation. Working as an intern at ERI has inspired me to continue to work with communities that depend on the marine environment.
Please tell us some more about the internship you’re currently doing in Belize.
Currently, I am an intern at the Environmental Research Institute of the University of Belize in Belmopan, Belize. I am working on a project which is investigating the impact of tourism on the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve and helping tourism stake holders, such as dive operators and tour guides to develop the appropriate management techniques to sustainably manage the atoll.
I was presented with this position through the International Youth Internship Program (IYIP) which was offered through the Marine Institute of Memorial University. This program is designed to provide young graduates with the opportunity to gain introductory work experience in different countries whilst assisting in projects related to their career back grounds. This opportunity is funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and is part of the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy.
What do you most enjoy and find most satisfying about the work you are doing?
I enjoy working with and learning from all the individuals I meet through my internship, whilst helping to protect the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve. I am also enjoying learning about Belizean culture and making new friends.
What are some of the things you’ve learned about the environment and working in the environment field since you’ve started this internship?
This internship is teaching me how to effectively communicate and collaborate with different environmental stakeholder groups. I am also learning to appreciate the way of life of different individuals and how they interact with their environment.
What do you have in mind as the next step in your career?
I wish to pursue a diploma in Geographic Information Systems after my internship. Eventually, I would like to complete a Masters degree in Marine Biology and work in the field of Marine Conservation.
Thanks so much to Megan for the interview. Green Antilles wishes you every success in your future endeavours!
[Interview responses have been edited lightly for clarity/readability. Images courtesy of Megan Trotman.]