Fiona is an entrepreneur, academic and adventurer who has embraced a busy but meaningful career on Southern Vancouver Island. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Victoria in French and Environmental Studies, a Masters of Science in Environmental Change and Management from Oxford University and a Masters in Environmental Design from the University of Calgary. After teaching at UVic for the past 16 years, she is currently working on her PhD with renowned ethnobotanist Dr. Nancy Turner. Spending many of her formative years in the First Nations communities of Clo-oose and Penelakut Island sparked Fiona’s life-long interest in Ethnobotany. She teaches Environmental Studies courses at a number of institutions including UVic, Royal Roads and Pacific Rim College. In 2005 she began farming in Metchosin, where she now runs a successful organic plant nursery and locally-adapted seed company specializing in heirloom and open-pollinated food plants and soft fruit varieties. She writes field guides to native plants and academic papers, works a few weeks each year as a tall ship naturalist and deck hand (her escape from her other work!), and raises two energetic boys.
“The Road(s) Less Taken – how to do what you love while still managing to pay your bills”
The path from high school to university to career often seems like a direct one, but what if you strayed off that acceptable road, and where might you get to? I was the only student in my graduation class of 100 to not go directly into university, and I’m happy to say that my gap year of solo global travel is now more of a norm than it was in 1988 when I left Brentwood. Yet when I chose to start a double major in Environmental Studies and French at UVic in 1989 my practical British mother responded (apply posh accent here) saying “And What on EARTH do you think you’re going to do with THAT degree…?” Predictably, my career has not been a conventional one, nor will my talk be to you. But I do hope that my chosen combination of academic, entrepreneur and adventurer will help you to consider how you might forge what has proven (at least in my case) to be a very full and meaningful life – and still manage to pay your bills!