Lesley Hymers

Lesley Hymers is currently serving as Project Manager with the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Mining Matters, an organization whose mission is to provide minerals, metals and mining education. Prior to joining Mining Matters in June 2008, she spent more than 5 years in industry, working with Dufferin Aggregates, where her responsibilities included coordinating an Education and Outreach Program. Prior to joining industry Lesley served as Instructional Development Program Coordinator in Teaching Support Services at the University of Guelph.

Lesley also serves as a Faculty member in the Environmental Site Remediation Applied Degree Program at Seneca College where she has developed and continues to instruct foundational courses in Earth Science.

Lesley has an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Geography and Geology, and a Master of Science Degree in Earth Science, both from the University of Guelph.

Q: What is the title of your job and what do you do?

A: Up until very recently, I was a Property and Resource Representative. The Property and Resources Department was responsible for aggregate resource acquisitions, licensing of pits and quarries, lands management, environmental management, and corporate social responsibility activities. My responsibilities included Coordinating an Education and Outreach Program.

Earth Science is a broad discipline that involves the examination of the processes that work in our planet's interior and on its surface. My work involved exposing others to the discipline of Earth science through education and outreach. I recently made a significant job change. I am now serving as Project Manager for the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Mining Matters Program, an organization whose mission is to provide mineral, metal and mining education.

Q: Who do you work for, and where are you based?

A: I worked for an aggregate company that produced crushed stone, sand and gravel.

Q: What is your typical routine?

A: In my previous position I worked on average 45 hours per work, Monday through Friday. I also worked the occasional Saturday when Special Events, like Quarry or Pit Open Houses, were scheduled. I coordinated the Education and Outreach Program as part of my larger responsibilities. Coordinating the Education and Outreach Program involved providing learning opportunities, promoting the program, including making presentations at conferences, and supporting educators. Annually, more than fifty educational programs were presented at quarries or pits & at institutions, reaching nearly 3000 learners, educators and the public. The curricula addressed during these site visits included mining, geology, paleontology and rehabilitation science. Site visits generally involved a tour of the operation, including the extractive area, the processing plant, and the rehabilitated parts of the operation. The education opportunities were provided to learners and educators from primary and secondary schools, Colleges, Universities, and to the general public.

Q: Where do you work?

A: I worked where I lived in Southern Ontario. For the first few years of my time with the aggregate company, my office was located at the quarry where most of the Education Program was undertaken. In my final years with the company I was transferred to Head Office. During this period I travelled to the quarry or pit where the site visit was scheduled.

Q: What equipment/machinery do you use?

A: Site visits generally involved a bus tour of the operation. This meant that I made use of all of the equipment on site: heavy equipment in the extractive area, the components in the processing plant, and the landscape elements present in the rehabilitated part of the operation. Communication materials like site brochures were also used. These publications included information on geology, extraction and rehabilitation. At the site where most of the education program was undertaken, interpretive signage was created and installed in the rehabilitated part of the site. The signage included information on the geology of the region, the nature of the deposit being extracted, and of the extraction and rehabilitation processes undertaken at the site.

Q: What education or training is required for your job?

A: The minimum requirement was an undergraduate degree in Earth science. Teaching education and experience also proved valuable. In addition I had a Master of Science Degree in Earth Science and experience coordinating an Instructional Development Program. These also proved valuable assets to the position.

Q: What kind of personal traits do you recommend for this profession?

A: One of the great things about Earth Science is that it provides opportunities to work in a variety of workplaces, including the field, laboratory, somewhere abroad or in the place where you live. In general, most people who enjoy Earth Sciences share similar interests: a love of the outdoors, an interest in science, and a desire to explore and discover. These are important traits for an Earth Scientist to possess. As with all careers, a keen interest is paramount to success. In addition, the ability to communicate effectively is an important trait of educators. In my role as Education and Outreach Coordinator being able to effectively communicate to different audiences, including learners, educators, and the general public was necessary.

Q: What is the salary range of your job?

A: $13.00/hour to a salary of $50,000 +

Q: What do you like best about your job?

A: Of all my responsibilities, coordinating the Education and Outreach Program was the most enjoyable part of my job. I enjoyed facilitating site visits and the opportunity they provided to discuss local and regional geology, planning, regulations, operations and rehabilitation with participants. I enjoyed sharing the program and its results with educators from Universities, Government, and other interested groups. I also enjoyed opportunities for field and laboratory work.

Q: What are the advantages?

A: Aggregate extraction (Crushed Stone, Sand and Gravel Mining) generally occurs where the natural resource is located and close to place where it is to be used. The location of aggregate pits and quarries, in Southern Ontario for example, provides Earth Scientists with the opportunity to work where they live. There are also opportunities for resource evaluation in the field and laboratory.

Q: What are the advancement opportunities for this career?

A: The Education and Outreach Coordinator position was a very specialized role. As a result there were no opportunities for advancement inside the aggregates company I was working for. There may have been opportunities with a different producer or with the organization that represents aggregate producers. There were opportunities available outside of the company with other organizations, including non-profits, and academia. That is why I chose to accept my new position. I love my new job! I was pleased to learn that my academic and professional Earth Science skills were easily transferable to another workplace.

Q: How physically demanding is your job?

A: It was occasionally physically demanding.

Q: Why did you choose this career?

A: I always enjoyed the Sciences. I did however arrive later to Earth Science. I had already finished secondary education before I ever met someone working in geology. I entered University sometime after this initial exposure to the field. When I took my first post secondary geology course I knew that it was a subject area that interested me and an area where the work would be equally interesting.

Q: What is your most memorable moment/event/place related to your experience as an Earth scientist?

A: There are many memorable moments, events and places related to my experience as an Earth scientist. One memorable event and place included an Undergraduate structural geology field trip to Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland. Another memorable event occurred during field work for my Master's thesis. My assistant and I were locked in a sand and gravel pit where we had been working all day. Obviously this posed a problem. The pit was located in the country and there were very few neighbours for us to go to for assistance. To make the matter worse the closest neighbour was home but practising his drumming! We were frantic! We decided the best course of action was to drive our truck onto the perimeter berm near our drumming neighbour and repeatedly sound our horn until someone came out. He eventually heard our plea for assistance and freed us by removing part of the operation's fence. Then he allowed us to escape through his driveway. If this hadn't happened we would have been stranded in the pit for the night!

I also enjoy travelling to geological sites of interest. Some of the more memorable ones include Newfoundland, the Mohave Desert, Portugal, Yellowknife and Thunder Bay

Q: What is your advice to newcomers?

A: Take a broad Undergraduate education in Earth Science. This will allow you to be exposed to all aspects of the discipline and its specialities. Take advantage of summer job opportunities (academics, government, and industry) to get some applied experience. This will expose you to the type of work that is available and help you to make connections. These are vital. Seek a mentor to help you navigate.

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