Posting a year in review blog has become an informal annual tradition at Fiera Biological, and we typically keep it positive and focus on the highlights, while mostly staying clear of any struggles, setbacks, or outright failures.
This year we have plenty of high points to celebrate, but we also have had a few low points that stand out, so we thought we’d change things up a little and share a few of each in this 2021 Year in Review for Fiera Biological Consulting.
Having the right team at the right time is the back-bone of this little company’s success, and the team in 2021 pulled their weight and then some. When we didn’t have all the in-house expertise required to meet the needs of a project, we drew from trusted allies outside of our own firm to fill out the roster. This allowed us to build the best, brightest, and most qualified team for each project. Exceptional teamwork is our recipe for exceptional work. The added benefit for us is that we get to learn a lot from our colleagues, and we make a few new friends along the way.
We had a lot of fieldwork this summer, and our crew of field specialists were busy covering a wide range of varying projects that spanned from one end of Alberta to the other. From salamander and snake studies, to wetland assessments, to mountain goats, songbirds, and sharp-tailed grouse studies, there was one thing all of this fieldwork had in common. Wasps. It was a year like no other for wasps, and on one study we actually had to break from fieldwork to drive to a pharmacy because we ran out calamine lotion and anti-histamine. In some areas it was literally impossible to walk off trail through the woods without stirring up a wasp attack. It became both a joke, and a serious safety concern for field staff, but did they complain? Well, yes, actually they complained quite a lot, but they kept on working, and swatting and running away, and coming back to get the job done.
There aren’t a lot of awards for environmental consultants, so we have to be satisfied when our clients win awards for the work that we helped them with. In 2021, the Town of Okotoks received two environmental awards for their Natural Asset Inventory. This was the first inventory of its kind developed for a municipality in Alberta, and completing it was a highlight for us back in 2020. The fact that the Town of Okotoks is getting recognized with awards for this progressive approach to municipal management is something we celebrate, and are quite proud of. Congratulations Okotoks for winning the 2021 CAMA Environment Award, and the AUMA Municipal Environment Award.
Change is almost always a good thing in the long run (except for climate change), but it can come with some melancholy. We experienced no such melancholy with the change and sparkling update to our new website, launched back in October. It took a lot longer than we had hoped, and was a lot more work than we had time for, but we think the end result is brilliant, and we hope you like it as much as we do! Other changes did come with a note of sadness. We had some beloved employees leave us for new adventures and challenges (I blame the wasps). A lot of our hires are new graduates, and we take a lot of pride in their development as professionals. Some stay for many years, and others are only here with us briefly. In any case it is always hard to see them go, but also exciting to watch where their post-Fiera careers take them. All we can do is wish them well, and embrace the change.
It’s a thing, but we’ve never had to deal with it in any major way at Fiera until 2021 (I blame the wasps). Let me tell you this: until you experience a mental health crisis at your workplace, you won’t know how important it is to have supports and processes in place and ready to go to help you deal with it when it shows up – and it eventually will. 2021 taught us that caring about the emotional wellbeing of our co-workers (which we do, deeply) isn’t enough to keep them safe and healthy. Supports and processes need to be in place to ensure that those in need have a paved trail towards help. It isn’t an easy subject to talk about, but organizations big and small need to acknowledge the importance of creating a physically and emotionally safe workplace for everyone. In this regard we are thankful to leave 2021 far better prepared than when we entered it.
Alberta Health Services has a Mental Health Helpline to call if you are in distress — tel:1-877-303-2642
And that’s it for our 2021 year in review; the good, the bad, and the melancholy at Fiera Biological. Have the happiest of New Years, and we look forward to hearing from you in 2022.