"RMOT has given me a solid base of knowledge to further my experiences in the natural resource field. Working seasonally in my home province of Manitoba as a resource officer in various parks, has helped me develop skills initiated in the classroom. Two years of seasonal work gave me the desire to see what else was out there in the world of conservation.

After graduating from the RMOT diploma program in 2011 my aspirations began pointing towards some more worldly experiences. I realized that there were enticing options volunteering abroad. I eventually settled on a ten week volunteering expedition in coastal Kenya with Global Vision International. I chose the project because it encompassed a variety of conservation initiatives focused on forestry, marine ecology, and tourism. I was also excited to learn more about Kenya Wildlife Service, the governing body for resource management in Kenya.

I began working on a marine research project in January 2012. The project had been underway for over six years when I arrived; therefore most of the techniques in place were well developed for the task at hand. The majority of our work was carried out in Kisite-Mpunguti Marine national park and marine reserve. The marine national park was developed for dolphin watching, snorkelling and diving. A large no-take area challenged the local fishing community who historically relied on the local stocks for food and business. Periodically educational seminars were offered to local groups who wanted to learn more about guiding in order to use tourism as a mode of income.

I continued my work as an intern and supervisor with the marine project. Daily routine included getting up as the sun rose and heading out to sea on the morning tide. Although our search for dolphins was tedious at times, more often than not we were rewarded with lengthy periods of time casually following groups of local bottlenose dolphins. Once with the dolphins it was my job to get out the camera and start taking photos of dorsal fins, which would be used later to identify individuals from a catalogue. I worked closely with biologists conducting studies on dolphin behavior and fisheries enhancement under our research permit for the marine park. Taking it to a higher level opened my eyes to some of the bigger things going on in the area. Seeing results from data collected by other groups on the Kenyan coast gave me an appreciation for how the pieces of the puzzle fit together.

After meeting some great people along the way I returned to Canada for another summer of work in Manitoba. Resource management in the western world has a different scope than in East Africa where international tourism brings in millions of dollars a year and game wardens regularly put their lives on the line to protect wildlife from poachers trying to survive through economic struggle. When I returned to Manitoba the change of pace helped me better identify the role of Canadian resource officers.

My RMOT background has followed me to many places and I have been able to apply what I learned at VIU in many different situations over the past three years. In January I plan to return to VIU working towards a Bachelor of Natural Resource Protection and continue down the path to full-time employment."

Benjamin Cudmore
Bachelor of Natural Resource Protection Program

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