Growing up in the Yukon, I have been surrounded by wildlife and natural resource protection since I can remember. My father’s career as a Conservation Officer provided me an array of unique experiences with northern wildlife growing up; I spent parts of my youth looking after the latest temporary adoptee to the family, whether that meant caring for mother-less signets, feeding an injured bald eagle or washing a mallard duck from an oil spill. At one point, we even had an orphaned moose calf running around our yard! My parents engrained in me from a very young age the importance of wildlife and the need to protect them and their resources. Life has always included cranberry picking in the fall, ice fishing in the winter and lots of hiking and canoeing in spring and summer, and as I grew older, it became clear just how important natural, wild areas are to me, society and the wildlife that permanently inhabit them. Although I grew up with knowledge of northern environmental awareness around me, it was within the last few years that I clearly realized this is the cause I wish to devote my professional life to.
Work and travel experiences led me to study northern environments; two seasons working for the Yukon Fish and Game Association at a fish ladder piqued my interest in northern environmental issues as I witnessed the decrease in wild salmon populations and learned about the causes and effects of their population decline. Following this, I took a position in the House of Commons as a Page while studying full-time at the University of Ottawa. Serving in Parliament gave me an inside look at the legislative process and provided insight into effective ways to influence social change. In Ottawa I realized that combining my passion for politics and love for the outdoors could be possible as an environmental lawyer, and that this career could be extremely useful in the circumpolar world. Working towards expanding and protecting natural areas and standing up to individuals and corporations that unlawfully harm Arctic and Antarctic wildlife are the types of issues I hope to someday work on. Last spring, I self-funded a trip to Iceland to participate in a study camp focusing on water, nature and sustainable energy. While there, I explored Iceland’s green energy and also visited the controversial aluminum smelter recently constructed in East Iceland, hearing views from both environmentalists and industry representatives. Environmental damage included the flooding of reservoirs and the displacement of wildlife within the region. Using hydropower to operate the smelter however, dramatically reduced carbon dioxide emissions, while meeting the need for aluminum in the global market. I was inspired to someday work on cases such as this to legally ensure that infrastructure is designed in an efficient, sustainable way that does not harm biodiversity and cause habitat degradation in naturally rich and wild areas of the planet.
To begin my study of Arctic environments, I stayed in Whitehorse and studied by distance through UBC last fall semester while taking a northern wildlife course at Yukon College. To cover the Antarctic portion of my program, I arranged to study for a year at the Gateway Antarctica Faculty at Canterbury University in New Zealand. Unfortunately, the impact of the 6
Covering the poles: Jodi Gustaffson's journey from the Yukon to New Zealand and Lapland
Mon, Sep 19, 2011
My name is Jodi Gustafson and I am a third year student completing a science degree in Global Resource Systems through the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. With significant environmental change occurring globally, it is no secret that circumpolar environments will be put at an elevated risk, so when it came time to choose a regional specialization for my degree, choosing to study Arctic and Antarctic environments was a decision that came easily. To cover the Arctic portion of my degree, I am currently completing the Arctic Studies Program at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland, a program which I am loving every minute of!