Pursue your Passions: Advice from a Technician with her Feet on the Ground!

Jake Freeman is a resource technician at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Winnipeg. She is currently on assignment with the Indigenous Support and Awareness Office and is also co-chair of AAFC’s Indigenous Network Circle.

What’s one thing that would surprise people about your field of work?

Our team offers “on the ground” support to a wide variety of projects, so each day is different. In 2012 and 2015 I spent six weeks in the field collecting field data on soil moisture. This information was then used to test and adapt NASA’s algorithms for its newest satellite, SMAP, which is being used to estimate soil moisture on farmland. There were 75 of us from Canada and the US working together on this project. The Technical Services Unit provides in-field technical assistance for soil collection, snow surveys, river cross sections, soil probe calibration for various sites at various depths, installing piezometers, seeding and spraying plots, and so much more. Each season is different and each year the work varies based on the needs of project managers.

How did you get into your line of work?

I have a Chemical and Biosciences Diploma from college and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Manitoba. While I studied to be a lab technician, I found that I needed to be more connected to the outdoors. When I started as a soil and water conservation technician with the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA), my attention to detail, note keeping, and lab protocols came in handy. Not being afraid of getting dirty was also an asset.

What is your most memorable moment at work?

I have quite a few, but it is always the funny ones that are most memorable!

Getting the truck stuck, lunch on a tail gate, fighting off cattle, getting zapped by an electric fence—all in the name of science!

Is there something we can do to support women in science?

I think we need to encourage everyone, no matter what their classification, background, or what education they have.

What advice would you give to young people interested in a career in science?

That scientists aren’t the only ones doing science. Some see getting your Ph.D. to become a research scientist as an unobtainable goal, but people on the ground contribute to projects and science as well. Find out what you’re good at, what interests you, and what your passions are. Pursue that! Often, science is a part of everything!

What are your hobbies, and do they influence your work?

Hobbies include hunting, fishing, surfing, traveling, reading, sewing, painting, beading, history, etc. I enjoy being outside—both at work and during my spare time.

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