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Monday, Dec 05, 2022

Suzanne Card’s lifelong love of nature evolved into a flourishing career in wetland ecology

Two people standing in a wetland

From a young age, Suzanne Card enjoyed being in nature with her family, whether she was camping, hunting, or exploring. She continues to emulate her father’s respect and love for nature, and credits him as the biggest influence in her life.  

In elementary school, she attended a presentation by Ducks Unlimited and was intrigued by the idea of being able to work in nature. Suzanne reflects, “It is fun to think back on how something so simple can impact the trajectory of one’s life.” Later, she worked with Ducks Unlimited as a junior ecologist. 

Suzanne also acknowledges early mentors (Rhonda McDougal, Tom Goddard, and Tony Brierley) who helped shape her career. She says, “They saw something in me that I wasn’t able to see in myself.” Their belief in her gave Suzanne the confidence to pursue a career in science.

As an ambitious young professional, Suzanne maintained an open mind and jumped at opportunities that came her way. In addition, she was never afraid of doing the “hard things”, both physically and mentally. While working for Ducks Unlimited, she ran a carbon sequestration study with many responsibilities and unknowns, but Suzanne was up to the task. In her first job after graduate school, Suzanne worked in the field for weeks at a time, in all types of weather, digging soil pits in challenging terrain. She advises young scientists, “It’s important to splurge on a good pair of boots and a good cruise vest; they will save you in the field.”

After deciding to pursue a career in wetland ecology, Suzanne knew that she wanted to work with the best. She shares, “I saw Kristen Andersen‘s [Associated’s Technical Specialist, Wetlands & Restoration] presentation at a wetland conference. I met her and Sandra Meidinger [Associated’s Division Manager, Environmental in Alberta North], and I knew that I wanted to work with them. They are passionate and focused on quality and client service.”

Suzanne tells us that her most memorable experiences have been on wetland replacement projects involving municipal clients and Alberta’s Ministry of Environment and Protected Areas. For Suzanne, putting wild places and wetlands back on the landscape is very motivating!

“Working in wetland ecology means constantly operating in a grey world, where answers are not necessarily black and white. We must always think about what the client’s needs are, what is the right thing to do, and what is required from a regulatory perspective.” 

As Manager of the Applied Ecology group in Edmonton, Suzanne shares, “It has been very fulfilling for me to apply my technical and project management skills and lead this wonderful team.” As a leader, Suzanne follows a philosophy centered around care, reliability, sincerity, and competence. She credits this approach to helping her become a better leader. Suzanne also believes in mentoring, passing on knowledge, and helping those around her to reach their full potential.

“In consulting, I have discovered my true passion. I focus on wetland ecology, which combines vegetation, soils, and hydrology.”

Outside of work, Suzanne loves to read and travel.  She combines her travels with her interest in sharks, through diving and snorkeling. 

A couple in Morocco

Suzanne has volunteered with the SPCA over the years, and as a teacher for a wetland delineation course through the University of Alberta Faculty of Extension, supporting her community and future generations of wetland ecologists.