Shannon Ripley

Shannon Ripley
Position: Coordinator, Yellowknife Centralized Composting Program
Education: B.Sc. Environmental & Conservation Sciences (University of Alberta), M.Sc. Soil Science (University of British Columbia)
Employer: Ecology North, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

What kind of work do you do?

I work as coordinator of the Yellowknife Centralized Composting Program in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. My job involves helping Yellowknife businesses, institutions and residents to separate organic materials (such as food scraps, leaves and grass clippings) from the waste stream, so these can be collected and converted into compost. Compost is a valuable soil amendment that can be used to improve soil quality in gardens, lawns and for land reclamation.

What is the most exciting thing about your job?

Some favourite aspects of my job are the fact that it includes outdoor, hands-on work, learning about nature and natural processes, and interaction with many different community members. I love how diverse the job is! During one week I may find myself giving educational workshops on “how to compost” in both French and English, working with grocery store staff to trouble-shoot their organics collection system, and turning and watering compost windrows at the compost facility in my coveralls! My position also includes monitoring compost temperature and moisture levels, and testing the compost once it is finished to ensure it is ready and safe for use. I find it fascinating to see the temperature inside the compost windrows at 70°C, even when it is -30°C outside!

Where else have you worked as a soil scientist?

As a soil scientist, I have also appreciated the opportunity to work with rural communities in Argentina and Guatemala to investigate and learn about the properties of their forest and agricultural soils, to support farmers in making decisions about how they plan to use their land for crops and livestock grazing.

Photo: Collecting soil samples with farmers from the community of Tanhoc, Guatemala