VIU Geoscience Student Finds A Way To Help Others While Earning His Pilot's Licence

VIU Geoscience Student Finds A Way To Help Others While Earning His Pilot's Licence

VIU Geoscience student Nick Temos flying a Cessna 172

September 13, 2019 - 9:00am

VIU Geoscience student combines passion for flying, photography and science to help other students and the environment. 

When Vancouver Island University (VIU) Geoscience student Nick Temos started crisscrossing the Island in a Cessna 172 single-engine aircraft building flight time to obtain his commercial pilot licence, his perspective about the environment we live in changed. 

“While flying 12,000 feet over Vancouver Island, out to the west coast and places like Tofino, I started becoming more aware of the impact humans are having on the environment,” says Temos. 

Temos says his reaction is kind of like the overview effect – a cognitive shift in awareness some astronauts experience when they see the Earth from space. 

“It psychologically changes the way that they perceive the Earth and makes them realize we are one giant, big ecosystem, a flying ball of life orbiting the sun with nothingness around us. It is sort of the same for me flying four kilometres up in the air over the forests, beaches and mountains. It really hit me how little there is left of untouched land and continuous blocks of old-growth forests on this island.” 

Motivated to share his newfound knowledge, Temos launched The Pacific Northwest Collective in 2014 with a few science nerds, photographers and volunteer pilots. Their mission is to safely use aviation to explore, document and bear witness to human impacts on the natural world, and employ science and journalism with integrity to promote science-based and pragmatic solutions to the environmental crisis. 

Temos’s photographs include aerial views of river estuaries with tendrils of water channels meandering through vast expanses of silt and green sedge grasses; craggy coastlines where the Pacific Ocean crashes onto rocky shores, painting the sea foamy white and aquamarine; and the seemingly endless layers of mountain ranges stretching as far as the eye can see in hues of denim blue and indigo as the sun cascades below the horizon. He has garnered 56,000 followers on Instagram and 4,000 on Facebook. VIU Geoscience Student Finds A Way To Help Others While Earning His Pilot's Licence

Prints are sold to pay for his passion for flying, allowing him to log more miles in the air. Flying also presents an opportunity for Temos to show others how much has been touched by humans. 

“I have been talking with politicians and it seemed crazy to me that many have never actually flown over the areas they are making policy decisions about,” says Temos. “How can they make an informed decision without that perspective? I want to fly with more politicians and policy-makers to show them because I think that is probably the most beneficial way to achieve change.” 

Temos found his way to VIU when he ended his military career after serving in Afghanistan and Canada.  An interest in science has put him on the path to earning a Geoscience degree. He will graduate in about a year. 

“As an aspiring scientist, I see a lot of benefit in pragmatic solutions we can work toward to lessen the impacts on the environment from forestry, development and climate change. More can be done from a legislative position such as ensuring development plans take into consideration potential effects of forestry or urban expansion on salmon populations in smaller systems for example,” says Temos. 

The Pacific Northwest Collective has also spent time hosting science advocacy projects such as talking to Frances Kelsey Secondary School students about geoscience and climate change. The action plan now includes producing mini-documentaries. 

“I am filming a documentary called In Hot Water about salmonids on the Island,” adds Temos. “It is an informational video to get people to realize climate change is causing an issue for Pacific salmon and steelhead.” 

However, not all of the videos will be issue-driven. Temos also wants to share the incredible beauty of the Island and the environment. 

“Many people aren’t even aware a massive grey whale migration passes by our island, or have never seen the herring spawn,” says Temos. “I have an opportunity to share that and I hope people will watch them and be inspired by them.” 

VIU Geoscience Student Finds A Way To Help Others While Earning His Pilot's LicenceTemos’s cognitive shift in awareness hasn’t only been about nature. Coming to VIU has opened his eyes to the needs of other students. He is contributing $500 towards a bursary for the Earth Science Student Association. He hopes to make another small donation to another group or for a bursary next January.



Annette Lucas, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

O: 250.741.2020 | C: 250.618.7296 | E:

Tags: Earth Science | Geoscience | Teaching and Learning

Sign up for our VIU news and experts email