A Day in the Life of a CVC Watershed Monitoring Technician

person measuring diameter of a tree

Come Along for a Day of Learning

Join CVC’s Emily Stacy, a Technician in our Watershed Monitoring department as she shares a typical day of forest monitoring. Come along!

7:25 a.m.

My two team members and I grab our equipment and load up the work truck to head to Caledon. In late summer, we visit different forests in the Credit River Watershed to collect plant community data, as part of our Integrated Watershed Monitoring Program (IWMP).

Through IWMP, we study conditions and trends in the health of our watershed’s ecosystems. We have been monitoring today’s forest station for ten years.

Landscape photo of forest floor.
The forest monitoring station.

8:45 a.m.

We arrive at our monitoring station and the team splits up. I collect regeneration data on the shrubs and young trees by recording the species, number and height of the stems. I check the five subplots around the station. This tells us what trees might grow in the future to take the place of current ones.

The other team members record information on the fallen logs that they encounter. Fallen logs provide important habitat for animals and return nutrients to the forest floor. They find an American toad nestled in a hole in one of the logs.

A log on the forest floor covered in moss with a toad  sitting in a hole in the log.
American toad hiding in the mossy log.

9:20 a.m.

Next, we assess and record the health of the trees within our station. We examine trees for signs of disease or insect damage and measure the diameter of the trees at approximately four feet from the ground. We use binoculars to look for any concerning signs in the tree canopy and use a device that can measure its height.

We check eastern hemlock trees for signs of hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive insect that is relatively new to Ontario but has not yet been found in our watershed. Luckily, we see no signs. We note two dead ash trees as a result of emerald ash borer (EAB) and a diseased American beech tree. Apart from these two species, most of the trees within the forest station are healthy.

A time-lapse video of Emily and the team in the forest station.

11:45 a.m.

We finish data collection and as we head back to the truck, enjoy the sound of the cicadas and the sight of colourful mushrooms and variety of ferns that cover the forest floor. We drive back to the office where we break for lunch.

Monitoring equipment laying on the ground in the forest
All the equipment we bring with us.

1:00 p.m.

I finish the day with data entry on the computer and office meetings.

I am fortunate to be a part of the IWMP team. I appreciate that my job involves data collection that allows CVC to answer important questions about the health of our ecosystems and how best to manage our ecosystems into the future. I look forward to visiting another forest tomorrow.

To learn more about the health of the watershed’s forests, wetlands, streams and groundwater, visit our interactive IWMP StoryMap Collection.

By CVC’s Emily Stacy, Technician, Watershed Monitoring

Comments (8)

  1. Hi Emily. That is an awesome story and it leaves me with such hope that we will catch issues and take corrective action going forward.
    In the 70s I canoed many lakes in Kilarney National Park and found it so wierd that there was little if any wildlife in and around the lakes. Then all these years later I see on Smithsonian’s A Park For All Seasons where they have tested and learned so much about the acid rain effects on all the lakes around the Sudbury Sulfur Plant……So your story makes me feel very good that we can now learn from our past as well as take positive corrective action going forward. Kudos ??

    1. Hi Brian,
      I inherited a 28 acre island in the French River Provincial Park. As a kid in the 1950’s, I watched schools of minnows, crayfish, frogs, blood suckers, big water spiders, sunbathing small mouth bass n sunfish, all thriving in their pristine habitat.
      Now, still after all these years, there is nothing. Just clear empty waters with the odd water snake.
      My dad n I used to catch our limit (6) by noon, usually pickerel, some bass n the odd fighter, pike. I don’t fish anymore.
      Terrestrial life has survived better, however the island was clear-cut at the turn of the century n only now is rebuilding the deciduous growth in abundance as the conifer forest dominated for most of the century.
      I too am so interested in ecosystems n watersheds. My favourite saying is, “I’m not a scientist, but I love to read.” I hope the young ppl will put a stop to the degradation as my generation, sadly, has only fueled it.

  2. I would like to know a little bit more about conversation work as I’m looking into switching fields. I’m an Environmental Scientist working in a Geo-Environmental consulting firm.
    Are there any specific courses or trainings required for those who desire to work as a Watershed Monitoring Technician?

    Thanks in advance

    1. Credit Valley Conservation

      Hi there, there are not necessarily specific courses that are required, though often certain courses/programs can help with getting experience in this field. There are many great post-graduate programs that are offered that help teach the technical skills need for this career: Ecosystem Restoration at Niagara College, Ecosystem Management Technician at Fleming College, Master of Environmental Science from University of Toronto Scarborough, to name a few. I have also found workshops useful to build my skills, including the Ontario Reptile & Amphibian Survey Course, and field trips with the Field Botanists of Ontario organization where expert botanists have helped me expand my plant identification knowledge. Royal Botanical Gardens also offers workshops on plant identification. Often, plant identification (in my case) or expertise in other taxa groups that organizations monitor like fish, birds, frogs, and benthic macroinvertebrates can help get a job in this field.

  3. Very interesting session. A unique job for sure. What is your educational background or work background that prepared you for this type of work?

    Thanks for sharing your day’s work.


    1. Credit Valley Conservation

      Hi Michelle, Monitoring staff at CVC have a variety of different educational backgrounds. My background includes a Bachelor of Science (focusing on Ecology) and Master of Science (focusing on Plant Ecology) both from McMaster University. While my education focused more on theory, what prepared/led me to this type of work was a summer job assisting on a tree and shrub inventory project at McMaster University. Through that job, I learned basic plant identification skills and I further developed this skill in my spare time.

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