The next generation of conservation scientists

Where will the conservation scientists, managers, and informed advocates of tomorrow come from?

Where will the conservation scientists, managers, and informed advocates of tomorrow come from? That’s a question we’ve been considering since the early days at Raincoast. The future of life on the coast will depend on their important work.

We understand that our own careers and contributions to conservation are – let’s face it – finite. And we know that there are generations after us who are keen to continue what we shaped from those before us. Accordingly, we have built into our work a major investment in the conservationists of tomorrow.

One way Raincoast commits to the next generation of conservationists is through the Applied Conservation Science Lab. It’s a one-of-a-kind university laboratory that provides mentorship in conservation science and policy. Based at the University of Victoria, and supported by a Chaired Professorship in Raincoast’s name, the lab’s team is comprised of undergraduate to postdoctoral trainees.

Our graduate students (‘Raincoast Fellows’) are a driving force behind much of Raincoast’s applied research programs. They confront important and urgent conservation problems and opportunities in coastal BC. Often working in support of Indigenous governments, their research generates key evidence on which policy-makers draw. In a complementary way, our students also engage in education and outreach, technical processes at policy tables, and more. Such a comprehensive learning-by-doing model demands more of our graduate students compared to the typical experience of graduate school. But, in return, they receive an extraordinary education at the intersection of academia and the real world.

Two scientists checking a trail camera.
Photo by Persia Khan.

Raincoast also benefits enormously from the lab; the university environment provides tremendous resources. Our investments into student researchers, for example, are often matched or exceeded by federal fellowships. Also, Raincoast Fellows are embedded in an institution that offers significant intellectual and logistical support to allow them to conduct the highly ambitious projects for which we are known. Perhaps most importantly, Raincoast Fellows have one another; our highly collegial team, united by the dedication and passion of its members, assist, empower, and inspire one another towards extraordinary work.

As they graduate with MSc or PhD degrees, Raincoast alumni continue to make a difference. They tend to be highly sought by employers and secure meaningful work. Several serve Indigenous governments; others are hired by federal and provincial governments. Some engage their skills as environmental consultants; yet others become professors themselves. Many stay involved with Raincoast in their new capacity, weaving new connections across the extended Raincoast team and our ever-growing influence.

This is an excerpt from our annual report, Tracking Raincoast into 2024.

Tracking Raincoast into 2024, annual report, cover and inside pages.

Our annual report is out now!

Get highlights from the year, our science, flagship projects, staff and volunteers, as well as a peek at what’s in store for the coming year.

Research scientist, Adam Warner conducting genetics research in our genetics lab.
Photo by Alex Harris / Raincoast Conservation Foundation.