Meet Sarah Rupert
Years working for Parks Canada
What was your education/career path?
I earned my Bachelor of Environmental Studies, Environment and Resources Studies with a specialization in Natural Area Management from the University of Waterloo in 1993. During my time at Waterloo I was able to focus my studies in key areas, including cultural anthropology. I completed two thesis study programs in 3rd and 4th, one on deer management in southwestern Ontario and the other a comparative analysis of breeding bird survey methods. Post university I worked for various organizations conducting bird survey analysis and compiling management plans. As a volunteer for the Lambton Wildlife Incorporated, I wrote several management plans and helped deliver the young Naturalist program. I was also a founding member of the Sarnia Urban Wildlife Committee, key in securing the Dennis Rupert Prairie Reserve property as a protected wildlife area.
I moved to the park in September of 1999 when I started my first term as a Park Interpreter for Point Pelee National Park and Fort Malden National Historic Site. I had a series of contracts and acted in different positions, including park interpreter, gate attendant and publications specialists until I landed my first permanent position as Interpretation Coordinator and eventually transitioned into my current role as the park promotion officer. During my time at Point Pelee, I’ve been able to share my expertise in birds providing advice and guidance to the resource conservation team and park managers. I’ve been able to work on Species at Risk (SAR) assessments, contributed to multi-species action plans, as well as managing the bird records and bird species list for the park. I love being able to work on multi-functional teams and bridging the gap between resource conservation and visitor experience.
What drew you to Point Pelee?
Point Pelee is the reason that I work for Parks Canada. It has been a huge part of my life, since I was born. My parents were both naturalists and my dad was one of the best birders in Ontario, and having been born and spent part of his youth in Leamington, Point Pelee was naturally one of his favourite places to bird. He spent years in the 1960s as a master bander for the park and we spent a lot of time here as I was growing up. My first trip for spring migration was when I was 2.5 months and old and we spent at least a week here in May every year throughout my youth and adulthood. May 2020 was the first spring that I’ve missed being in the park, due to the COVID-19 closure.
What do you do for Parks Canada?
I am currently the Promotion officer for Point Pelee National Park and the unofficial bird expert/record keeper for the park.
What would you tell a young girl about working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)?
My advice to any young girl is to stick with it! I know how it felt to be the odd kid out. Smart, nature and science-loving girls were definitely not the norm or particularly popular when I was young – but I wasn’t willing to give up those things that I loved just to fit in. What I’ve learned is that you can love science, math and nature and still be into other things as well. Do what you love and don’t let others discourage you – they’ll be the ones in twenty years that envy your cool job and that you are passionate about what you do.