From coast, to coast, to Water Rangers: get to know our BC team member, Roxanne

Over the coming months, our team members will be introducing you to themselves and the paths they took to get to Water Rangers. The following blog post was written by our BC Water Quality Coordinator, Roxanne. Learn more about the rest of our team here.

Born to be a Water Ranger

My name is Roxanne van Velzen. Ever since I was little I have been obsessed with the ocean. Even though I grew up in land-locked Calgary (Alberta) I escaped to the ocean through Jaques Cousteau documentaries and every ocean themed book I could get my hands on. As soon as I was old enough, I ventured off to the East coast for my post-secondary education. Now, I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology and an Advanced Diploma in Water Quality from the Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Life changing work experiences

While both of these programs had “work terms” (also known as co-ops), my favorite was with Memorial University. My work term with Memorial took me to the remote Arctic for field work, and it was incredible. I was part of a team from Memorial University, Parks Canada and the Government of Nunavut that set out to do baseline habitat mapping of Ukkusiksalik National Park. Located just south of the Arctic circle, I was there for a month and half under the midnight sun. My primary job was to run the sonar aboard a small research vessel to map the river delta and larger bay off Hudson Bay within the park. Prior to our survey there were only two depth soundings in the mouth of the bay. No one had ever recorded how deep it was!

My work term at Memorial also allowed me to spend an entire summer at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans where I studied aquatic invasive species, focusing on European Green Crabs.

Water in another part of the world

Unsure of what I wanted to do with my education after that, on a whim I applied to an international internship through Global Affairs Canada and ended up getting in! My placement was in Cambodia, in the capital of Phnom Penh, where lived and traveled from for 6 months. Through this internship I began to see just how important humans’ relationship with water is on a global level.

Our British Columbia Water Quality Coordinator, Roxanne, scuba diving

Back to Canada, but in BC this time!

After my internship in Cambodia I tried my hand in aquaculture, back in Canada this time. I worked on a large ship out on the coast of British Columbia where I was in charge of fish health and water quality. This job gave a new perspective to my water quality training. Seeing incredibly remote corners of the BC coast was also a nice bonus.

Why Water Rangers?

I want to work to support community-based water monitoring because it connects everyday people to their water bodies. When people connect with water, it empowers them to go out more and understand the world around them. I am passionate about connecting and understanding the world around me, and I want to share that with others. I will be doing exactly that at Water Rangers working as the BC Water Quality Coordinator!