Invasive Species Council of British Columbia

Volunteer Spotlight: Paramdeep Montgomery

January 21, 2023

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you experience the nature around you?

After getting my Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Engineering from BCIT, I started working at an ornamental plant nursery. It was there that I discovered my passion for plant identification and the joy of successful propagation. After that, I worked for a bit at an environmental consulting firm where I first learned that I could make a career out of Invasive Species Management. Outside of the work environment, I am always up for an adventure! I enjoy going on hikes, camping, and checking out new viewpoints with friends and family. My current environmental read is Finding Mother Tree which was gifted by a community volunteer I met through the ISCBC volunteer program. 

What do you like about volunteering and what inspired you to take action?

I love volunteering because no matter where I move, it brings me closer to my local community. I have met many people throughout the years who share the same interests as me and are passionate about giving their time to better the world around them. I have always liked plants and, working at a nursery, I learned to identify over 80 different ornamental plant species. While working at an environmental consulting firm, I learned that invasive species are an important component in evironmental assessments. I decided to volunteer with ISCBC to channel my plant identification skills and gain experience with both native and invasive species. 

What would you say to a potential volunteer?

I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of volunteering opportunities hosted internally by ISCBC and externally through other organizations. I have gone on socially distanced guided nature walks in parks, done a BioBlitz, and attended numerous virtual webinars – all this during the pandemic! If you are looking to learn more about invasives and get hands-on experience, this is the place to do it. 

What volunteering action are you most proud of and why? 

I really enjoy working with my Volunteer Facilitator, and when I heard she was looking for volunteers to help her with a project in New Westminister I jumped at the opportunity! As a Stewardship Assistant at Glenbrook Ravine Park, I signed in volunteers, conducted Himalayan blackberry removal demonstrations, and helped organize tools at the end of the session. I made meaningful connections with the project’s partner organizations and I wrote a post-event report for a New Westminster community grant awarded to the project. I am most proud of my work in this position because it made me feel like I made an impact. Volunteers cleared large areas of blackberry bushes and native species were planted in their place. My favourite part was brainstorming a long-term maintenance plan for spot removal of recurring blackberry. It is a delicate process that first-time volunteers might have difficulty accomplishing, requiring the removal of blackberry roots without disturbing previously planted native species. 

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