Volunteer Profile: Holly Kinas
Born and raised in Calgary, I have always loved the nature that surrounds and runs through this city. I have had a passion for ecology and conservation from the time I was a child, when my family would travel to nearby wetlands in the evening to listen to the calling frogs and red-winged blackbirds in the spring. I am now a wildlife biologist, pursuing my passion as a career.
The first time I heard of the Miistakis Institute was through my Mount Royal University Professor, Dr. Dorothy Hill, who informed us about a writing contest that the Miistakis Institute was hosting regarding beaver relocation into areas where they had been extirpated. Recently, I started volunteering with the Miistakis Institute on the Call of the Wetland project, and since March of 2016 I have been ground-truthing wetlands to determine if they are a good candidate for the citizen science survey component, which launches in spring 2017. Volunteering for Call of the Wetland has been an extremely rewarding experience; I have had the opportunity to network with other professionals, gain practical field experience, enhance my amphibian identification skills, and participate in a grant interview on behalf of Call of the Wetland.
My volunteering with Call of the Wetland has not only provided me with many opportunities to give back to the Calgary community while enhancing my skills, but it has also led to employment with the Miistakis Institute. In June, the Miistakis Institute hired me to create the scientific methodology for quality control of the Call of the Wetland program. Over the past two months I have been working with Tracy Lee, Call of the Wetland Project Manager, and various advisors to develop this methodology. This methodology was created with the help of the City of Calgary, the Calgary Zoo, and the Bioacoustics Unit, which is a partnership of the University of Alberta and the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute. The methodology allows us to ensure citizens are capturing all species occurrences in the survey wetlands and that the surveys are taking place at the right time of day. We will be using Acoustic Recording Units (ARUs) to record calls during the amphibian breeding period, and then we will be analyzing these calls in the office to determine what species are occurring at specific wetlands. We will setup the ARUs at 8 different sites every year.
It has been such a privilege to volunteer and work with the Miistakis Institute, especially on a project that is so exciting and will greatly benefit the Calgary community and inform urban conservation of amphibians and wetlands. I am looking forward to continuing to volunteer with the Miistakis Institute on this project in spring of 2017 when it launches to the public. You can find me at a wetland in my rubber boots listening and looking for amphibians, answering the "Call of the Wetland."