Five questions with Makenna Kleiner

University of Lethbridge student talks about why she’s pursuing a career in environmental protection in Canada’s oil and natural gas industry.

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Makenna Kleiner is a student at the University of Lethbridge who plans to pursue a career in environmental and wildlife protection in Canada’s oil and gas industry.

Makenna Kleiner is in her fourth year at the University of Lethbridge. Like many Canadians, she has a passion for the outdoors and nature, and protecting the environment. It’s why she is dedicated to completing a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. She recently received the CAPP/EPAC scholarship for students looking to pursue a career in the oil and natural gas industry.

After graduating, she says, “I hope to be an asset to the continued growth of Canada’s upstream oil and natural gas industry.” We wanted to learn more about her optimism and commitment to balancing environmental protection with resource development.

1. What led you to choose a career in environmental protection?

I grew up in Calgary and spent lots of time hiking, horseback riding, skiing. I’ve done several multi-day hikes with my family including the Juan de Fuca Trail and West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island. I love the outdoors, especially animals, and knew I wanted to make that part of my professional life as well as a personal passion.

I was part of an Outdoor Pursuits program in middle school where we went out and experienced nature on a weekly basis, the survival skills and knowledge we gained were all working toward a multi-day hike. These experiences really sparked my interest and love for the outdoors, which has carried through the rest of my life and greatly impacted my outlook on life.  

2. How did you come to realize that natural gas and oil is a sector where you could make a positive contribution?

One of my parents works in the industry so I know how much of a focus the oil and natural gas industry puts into environmental performance and conservation.

We all need energy. Oil and natural gas are a necessity and critical for Canada’s population and economy. If I’m able to combine my passion for wildlife and the environment while being able to help my community succeed, I believe that is a win- win situation.  

I know how much of a focus the oil and natural gas industry puts into environmental performance and conservation.

In five years, I hope to be a junior or intermediate wildlife biologist working with the industry to protect and conserve our beautiful landscape. I hope to spread the knowledge I have gained and teach people how the industry can be beneficial in our efforts to protect the environment, and we need to work together with major industries to reach a common goal.   

3. Why the University of Lethbridge Environmental Science Program?

My goal was to find a rewarding career path that would encompass environmental and wildlife protection. I found out about the degree program at U of Lethbridge and realized my life goals and the career path I imagined fully aligned with the program. To be involved with habitat conservation and reclamation of disturbed land sites is my dream career, specializing in wildlife biology. I want my work to have a positive impact not only for the industry and the planet, but also something that would make me wake up in the morning excited for the day ahead.

The Environmental Sciences degree program offers a broad spectrum of courses. Highlights so far include ecology, genetics, behaviour and evolution, and organic chemistry – I feel that I’m getting a good fundamental grounding. The courses are challenging and complex, but they’ve taught me to learn effectively and help me understand linkages between different areas of study.

Within the past year, I have gained experiences in the lab and the field. I completed an independent study in Spring 2022 looking at the effects of the brominated flame retardant TBCO on the reproduction of a fish species. I also completed an internship last summer working as research assistant in the Winter Wheat Department at the Lethbridge Research and Development Centre. Both of these jobs were invaluable, hands-on experiences that gave me the confidence to pursue my dream career.  

4. What would you like Canadians, especially young people and students like yourself, to understand about this industry?

There is no perfect form of energy. I’m proud to be associated with the oil and natural gas industry and the fact that they explore energy transition solutions, like renewables.  Because I have a parent in the industry, perhaps I’m more aware than the average person of all the regulations and work that goes into protecting the environment. I know the industry is more progressive than people think. Many companies are trying to attract a younger and more progressive employee population. Innovation is high on the list of strategic priorities, and I find that super exciting.   

5. How has the scholarship assisted your studies?

I found out about the CAPP/EPAC scholarship through my university scholarship portal. I was very intrigued as I have always heard great things about the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.  

I was thrilled to hear I received such a prestigious scholarship! It is such an amazing opportunity not only because it applies to my future career path and interests, but it took away my financial burden for the year and allowed me to focus on my studies. I feel very lucky to have received recognition from such a well-known association.  

I’m thankful for this opportunity, not only for myself but for future recipients of this exceptional scholarship. I feel very honoured to have received it and I will continue to advocate for the oil and natural gas industry.

Students continuing in a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Management program at the University of Lethbridge who have expressed interest and intention to pursue a career in the oil and natural gas industry can apply for the CAPP/EPAC Scholarship award.