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Wednesday, Oct 14, 2020

Rob Hoogendorn’s childhood passion for the outdoors leads to a career in aquatic biology

Rob Hoogendoorn

Rob Hoogendorn, Senior Environmental Scientist in our Vancouver office, grew up in southern Ontario spending summers at Lake Huron. It’s here where he first developed his love of boating and the water. He knew early on that he wanted to have a career that would allow him to be outdoors, learning about the aquatic environment and protecting lakes and streams.

During high school, Rob participated in a summer camp for teens interested in working in natural resources and environmental management. His experience building a boardwalk through a wetland and cleaning walleye spawning grounds further motivated him to pursue a career in the environmental field.

In university, Rob was inspired by a few professors (Dave Lasenby and Michael Fox) who were doing interesting research in fisheries and aquatic biology. They encouraged him to pursue opportunities to work in BC.

Early in his career, Rob gained valuable experience on fisheries assessments in many remote areas of BC. He recalls a particular highlight was having a television film crew from the Knowledge Network join him on a white sturgeon sampling program on the Nechako River.

Rob was encouraged to pursue a position at Associated by a personal friend at the company who advised that Associated had expanded and he should consider joining the environmental team.

“I really liked the idea of being part of a multi-disciplinary team where consideration for environmental concerns is integrated into all aspects of our work from strategizing approaches and project planning to project completion.”

Some of Rob’s most memorable experiences since joining Associated have included doing fieldwork in beautiful, remote, mountainous terrain for fish monitoring programs for run-of-river hydroelectric projects. Other highlights have included some large infrastructure projects in the Lower Mainland, such as the Mount Lehman Road upgrades, where the challenges during planning and construction required a collaborative approach between the team members to develop creative solutions. 

Rob recalls his first experience with design and construction of fish habitat - a compensation project for habitat losses. He designed a large off-channel on the floodplain of a major river system in the Lower Mainland. He also served as the contract administration, site supervisor, and environmental monitor for the off-channel’s construction. Rob explains, “All of these roles were new to me. I had to dig in and work hard to find the information I needed. It was key to have experienced colleagues to lean on for advice, work examples, and information to support me along the way.”

Rob’s approach to working with clients starts with building relationships and trust.

“When you have a strong relationship with a client, you build their trust in us to take on their projects and address their challenges. We rely on relationships to garner insights and feedback needed solve their problems.” 

Rob Hoogendoorn

One of Rob’s favourite roles is mentoring young professionals. He finds it very rewarding to pass on his experiences, work with them to solve problems, and watch them grow and progress in their careers.

“I see mentoring as a key part of doing our business well. We need to really support people and in turn they bring new energy and ideas.”

Outside of work, Rob enjoys playing soccer and watching his favourite professional teams in MLS and Bundesliga. He loves boating and camping with his family, and also enjoys woodworking. His recent projects have included a wall bed, desks, and shelves.

Rob Hoogendoorn

Rob’s passion for the outdoors extends to his volunteer work. He is really interested in environmental conservation, and several years ago, he became a volunteer streamkeeper for a neighbourhood creek. He helps to inventory habitat, document fish and wildlife use, lead habitat restoration initiatives, raise community awareness, lead educational tours, and liaise with the local government about habitat protection. Rob has also led elementary school class field trips to local streams to teach children about ecology, fish habitat, and salmon life cycles, inspiring a new generation of aquatic biologists.