Protecting Lake Winnipeg, one sample at a time

Chelsea Lobson and Lake Winnipeg go way back. Her grandparents’ cottage in Matlock, Manitoba, gave her the opportunity to spend time in and around the lake — and was part of what inspired her to pursue biology and environmental science at the University of Manitoba. Those passions soon led her to the Lake Winnipeg Foundation, which used BioTalent Canada’s Career Focus Green Jobs wage-subsidy program to hire her as a Program Coordinator overseeing its Lake Winnipeg Community-Based Monitoring Network (LWCBMN).

Chelsea Lobson and Lake Winnipeg go way back. Her grandparents’ cottage in Matlock, Manitoba, gave her the opportunity to spend time in and around the lake — and was part of what inspired her to pursue biology and environmental science at the University of Manitoba. Those passions soon led her to the Lake Winnipeg Foundation, which used BioTalent Canada’s Career Focus Green Jobs wage-subsidy program to hire her as a Program Coordinator overseeing its Lake Winnipeg Community-Based Monitoring Network (LWCBMN).

LWCBMN is a team of volunteers that collects water samples from more than 100 sites in the Lake Winnipeg watershed to test for phosphorus, a nutrient that feeds the growth of harmful blue-green algae. With the help of conservation partners and citizen scientists across southern Manitoba, LWCBMN identifies phosphorus hotspots — regions that are contributing greater amounts of phosphorus to local waterways than other areas. Resources can then be directed to the areas where they will have the greatest impact on the health of the lake.

“I wanted to feel like I was doing something good and helping a larger cause,” said Lobson. “The Lake Winnipeg Foundation was a great fit. Because it’s a small organization, I was given a lot of responsibility and could see exactly how I was making a difference.”


AWARD-WINNING LEADERSHIP

Lobson’s colleagues and supervisors at the foundation could also see the difference, nominating her for BioTalent Canada’s Catalyst Award for Top New Hire in 2018. The award recognizes employers that invest in young talent through wage subsidies — like those provided through the Career Focus Green Jobs program.

“The nomination came as a complete surprise,” said Lobson. “It’s hard to know, when you’re just starting out in your career, how well you’re doing. To get this acknowledgement from my employer was really validating and motivating.”


CONTINUING THE CYCLE

Lobson’s work with LWCBMN involves a little bit of everything. She recruits and trains the volunteers who collect water samples, presents the results at conferences and other events, and even heads out into the field to collect samples herself when volunteers are unavailable.

Under her leadership, the network collected twice its target number of samples and tripled its number of partner conservation areas. These achievements earned Lobson not only the Catalyst Award but also a permanent, full-time job with the Lake Winnipeg Foundation, including a promotion from Program Coordinator to Program Manager.

“I’m really thankful for the Career Focus Green Jobs program,” she said. “It made it easier for a small organization to risk hiring a new grad with limited experience. And now in my capacity as Program Manager, I might apply to the program myself to bring another new grad into our team one day.”