Alum of the Month: Drew Milne

Drew Milne portrait next to VIU's Centre for Health and Science

March 15, 2023 - 3:45pm

Growing up on Vancouver Island, Drew Milne explored the great outdoors whenever he got the chance, so it’s not surprising he gravitated towards a career as a BC Conservation Officer. Last fall, the provincial government recognized him for his excellent service in this role with the Conservation Officer of the Year designation. This is given to conservation officers who go above and beyond the call of duty.

Milne began this career path with a Bachelor of Natural Resource Protection degree from Vancouver Island University (VIU). Before that, he was in the Canadian Armed Forces for six years. He joined the BC Conservation Officer Service seasonal program in 2008 with his first posting in in Whistler-Squamish.

He then joined the BC Government Environmental Assessment Office as a compliance and enforcement officer – Indigenous liaison. But he always felt the COS was his true calling and returned as Sergeant in BC’s Kootenay region. He was later promoted to Inspector of the South Coast region, where he currently works. This region includes the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast and Sea-to-Sky corridor. He shares more about his career and how VIU helped him get there.

Why did you choose VIU for your education?

I had just been honorably released from the Canadian Armed Forces after six years and one tour overseas. Most, if not all, natural resource law enforcement agencies require post-secondary education. The Bachelor of Natural Resource Protection program at VIU is one of two programs in Western Canada and builds the foundation for an effective natural resource law enforcement officer. I am a Vancouver Island boy and I wanted to be a Conservation Officer, so the choice was natural one. 

Tell us a bit about your experience in your program.

The program is like a family and faculty set students up for success. It teaches you the required theory and builds the foundation for your natural resource law enforcement mindset. The program is well thought out, the curriculum is tough, fair and relevant. The professors care about their students and build meaningful relationships with them, which creates a positive learning environment. I graduated in 2008 and I still regularly talk with my professors.

Were there any unexpected benefits you discovered after becoming a student?

Yes, a couple:

  • VIU has a welcoming, fun, professional culture that helps build friendships and challenges you to be the best person you can be. 
  • I have good working relationships with professors in different departments. We converse on a regular basis and share new and or better ways of doing our businesses.

How did your program prepare you for your current role? 

The program set me up for success on many different levels. I got practical knowledge on what to expect on the job as well as an understanding of how and why resources are managed the way they are.

The program brings in professors with varying levels of life, work and academic experience. I took a little something from each of my professors. When I self-reflect, I can see my leadership and teaching style, passion for learning and desire to help, and keen appreciation for flora and fauna resembles various professors. Each one of them has influenced me to be the person and Conservation Officer I am today.

What’s next for you? 

Continuous improvement is my goal. One day I would like to be able to complete my degree in biology (almost there) and then complete a master’s degree; perhaps even be a professor at VIU one day. 

What are you most proud of since completing your program at VIU? 

Being able to effect positive change and provide meaningful and effective natural resource enforcement oversight in an incredibly tough yet rewarding career/lifestyle.

What advice would you give VIU students following a similar trajectory as yourself? 

You have to really want it; then you need to get after it.  Put those two things together with the VIU program and you can do it.

Tags: Natural Resource Protection | Our Alumni

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