Dr. Barb Beasley
What do you say to a hitch hiking frog? Hop in! And that’s just what Barb did as she made the migration from Hamilton, Ontario to living “life on the edge” in Ucluelet, British Columbia. Like many easterners, Barb quickly adapted to our rich natural environment, tuning in to the natural ebb and flow of the west coast. Barb says she’s lucky to have come out west to live near the ocean and do interesting work.
Life is complicated. Being open to new opportunities is a great way to set yourself up in life - even if it’s scary or challenging. There is great excitement to be had with the many twists and turns in life.
While Barb may have come from “Steel City” she remembers the natural escarpment of her forested backyard beaming with beauty. During her formative years she eagerly recalls her time spent outdoors at summer camp learning about the stars, weather, minerals and plants – the building blocks of life. These formative years later sparked an interest in behavioural ecology . . . although, her first job was as an usherette where she apprenticed in the art of origami folding theatre programs – which could prove an invaluable skill set for her retirement. However, it is her intrigue of animals that has become her life's work.
Barb hit the books and set about her studies in biology at Queen’s University and later obtained a Master’s degree from the University of Western Ontario. But her appetite for learning didn’t stop there. She went on to achieve her PhD from Simon Fraser University through her research on the mating behaviour of swallows.
She began shaping her career as a coastal ecologist when she came to work as a Research Coordinator for the Long Beach Model Forest in Clayoquot Sound. Her research helped to inform land-use planning in Clayoquot Sound following the Scientific Panel's recommendations for the protection of coastal ecosystems and wetland areas. These recommendations set the path for the region becoming a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve area.
If it’s not yet apparent, Barb is a local research aficionado. In 2000, she began studying the squished remains of our little amphibian friends (SPLAT: Society for the Prevention of Little Amphibian Tragedies). She and many other volunteers have donated countless hours to monitoring and trying to mitigate amphibian fatalities along highway 4 in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
“Amphibians are cryptic, enigmatic and curious creatures of study. They’re fascinating – even if you’re not a wildlife fanatic.” Barb sees them as part of the tapestry of life – a form of nature based art that enriches us. She believes it is important to model and share what we learn about species across landscapes. “Amphibians are indicators of health, and linked to other important values that we can learn about from them.”
Barb splits her time as a contractor and instructor for courses in sustainable forest management and wetland ecology with a specific penchant for birds and amphibians. She has taught numerous field courses through the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre and Quest University. She enjoys sharing her passion for coastal ecology and is happy to serve as a resource for teaching and mentoring students as well as course design and development.
Amphibian lovers and volunteers wanting to learn more about Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds forest and wetland environments are encouraged to reach out to Barb.