Written on June 28, 2013 at 8:30 am, by Scott
KAREN SCHWALM 1981
Education has always been very important to me and it seems that you never stop learning. My educational background includes having obtained a B.Sc. in Chemistry from Michigan Technological University, followed by work on a M.Sc. in Chemistry at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, Alaska.
This kindled my love of the Arctic and polar climates. After moving to BC I completed the Simon Fraser University PDP teacher education program in 1973, and taught Secondary School in Prince Rupert, BC. That’s when I first heard of the Apprenticeship in Wilderness Leadership at Strathcona. Determined to be a scientist, I worked as a Chemist doing geochemistry assay and heavy metal analysis. I obtained a chemist position for Arctic Laboratories in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. The north was fascinating; I wanted to get out in the field to collect the samples I was analyzing. Alas, I wasn’t allowed on any expeditions into the field, where polar bear monitors with guns watched as the samples were collected, because I didn’t have enough Outdoor Skills. My then boyfriend, Nils Vikander, the Cross Country Ski Coach for the NWT, suggested that we go to Strathcona Park Lodge Outdoor Education Centre to attend the Apprenticeship in Wilderness Leadership program to get the outdoor skills, which included
Survival Skills, that would enable me to work in the field. He had the summer off and wished to expand his outdoor set of skills and we could do it together. Perfect, the outdoors and science were coming together. Read more