When she graduated from Niagara College two years ago, it would have made perfect sense for Cate Collinson ’10 to become an environmental activist. Her CV reads like something an NGO dreamed up: stints doing environmental work for York region and the province of Ontario; a degree in environmental studies and geography; a post-grad certificate in ecosystem restoration; and a host of environment-focused extracurriculars at Bishop’s, including spearheading the campaign to ban the sale of bottled water on campus. But one of her instructors from Niagara said that everything that made her a star candidate for an NGO or a conservation authority should push her away from activism and back into the field.
It worked. For almost two years now, Collinson has worked as an ecologist for Savanta, a boutique environmental consulting firm. During the winters, that means working from home: reading studies and getting information from all levels of government about a particular parcel of land that’s slated for development. But once the nice weather hits, she’s outside, scouring that parcel of land to “determine what the natural features or functions are and how they’ll be impacted by a development—and, if they are going to be impacted, how to mitigate those impacts or compensate somewhere else.” It’s a field she’s wanted to be in since her time at Bishop’s. “I took a wide range of classes in environmental studies to decide where I wanted to go. I knew I wanted to deal with the human interaction with the environment and not just the hard science. I had a lot of professors who let me study things I was interested in, like development and how we impact the environment—and that’s basically what I do now.”