Alumni Stories—Sheila Madahbee K
Sheila Madahbee K
BS, Forestry, 2000
Current job/field: Lands and Resource Technician
Employer: United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin
My name is Sheila Madahbee K, and I graduated from the forestry program at Michigan Tech in 2000. Being a Canadian, Tech has been one of the best choices I have ever made. My education has opened doors for me in both the US and Canada in terms of employment and networking opportunities, such as membership in the Society of American Foresters or the Ontario Professional Foresters Association.
For me, the job-hunting process has been relatively simple. I keep my eye on certain job boards to see what’s available, I subscribe to certain job-listing services, and I keep in contact with former employers. And I use word of mouth. When I am job seeking, I let certain people know I am available; then word gets around, and I have employment offers and/or job postings of interest coming to me. This method doesn’t work for everyone, though.
While at Michigan Tech, I learned valuable computer and writing skills (especially from the Integrated Resource Assessment series of courses). These two skills have been very valuable in all the positions I have held, many of which have not been directly related to forestry. Without these skills, I might not have been selected for those positions.
My first position after graduation was in the field, and my second position was in an office. Both helped me to grow as a professional, having provided me with insight on how daily operations occur in government. They introduced me to effective teamwork and taught me how to contribute individually to the big picture.
After working for the Sea Lamprey Control Centre of the Federal Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans as a technician, I worked for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for eight years as a contract staff member. My positions at the ministry included management forester, project forester, community planner, state-of-the-forest forester, project forester, and biomass forester.
In between contracts with OMNR, I was also employed as a tree marker with Domtar; a part-time facilitator/teacher/course developer in the Aboriginal Resource Technician program with Sault College for several years; and a fish habitat biologist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for a brief stint.
I have returned to my roots with a position at First Nations. In 2009, I was hired by Serpent River First Nation as a forester/planner, and now I am currently employed with United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin, a Tribal Council, as a lands and resource technician. In these two positions, the work has been both overwhelming and rewarding.
Everything I have ever learned is being utilized here. I’m in the field, in the air, on the water, and in the office. I’m meeting with different levels of management within industry and government. Some days I feel like I haven’t made a dent, other days I’m banging my head on my desk, and some days everything just falls into place.
One specific thing that I didn’t learn back in school was the advanced capabilities of ArcGIS, geographic information system software, which I have been required to utilize in every position I have held. I have learned most of what I know about ArcGIS from on-the-job experience. I recommend that students familiarize themselves with ArcGIS software and garner as much real-world experience as possible before graduating.
What I have learned from all my experiences is this: I am not afraid to try something I’ve never done, and I love to network with people in all kinds of capacities, e.g., administrative assistants, managers, interns, students, co-workers, and those in different sections or branches. They have all helped me in some way. My education at Michigan Tech has equipped me with the communication skills necessary to interact with such a diverse group of employees.
Sheila Madahbee K