Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Today we profile Monica Garcia, Delivery Planner based in Nelson
Some things I do in my job include:
I am part of the Operations Planning Unit which is a national team based in the regions. We turn DOC’s strategy into planned and prioritised work programmes that get delivered across the country. Our duties include project management, work planning, quality assurance, budgeting, monitoring biodiversity work, business planning, support for Battle for our Birds, national reporting, and any other general coordination between the troops and the chiefs.
This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:
Making sure we are doing the right work, in the right manner, at the right place and at the right time, which also means working as one organisation. We work to administer our planning and prioritisation systems and processes, and with Partnerships to align opportunities for growth.
The best bit about my job is:
The people, the purpose, the landscape, the country. By being part of a national team, I have the opportunity to work across the regions and also with people from all levels of the Department.
I’ve been fortunate to experience the biodiversity of this country, visit incredible places (many of them out of reach of the common citizen) and I feel privileged to be able to work in DOC, alongside very passionate and motivated people, doing our best for conservation in New Zealand.
The funniest DOC moment I’ve had so far is:
As a ranger in Whangarei I worked in one of the most amazing spots in New Zealand, the Poor Knights Islands. This is a very special and awesome place for me, and I got to spend a lot of time there, doing weed control. In one of the five-day trips, we were ready to go and loaded everything in the DOC’s boat. However the swell conditions weren’t good so we decided to use a charter boat instead. When we were on the island, we started unpacking and discovered that one of the barrels had been left behind, inside DOC’s boat. That barrel was carrying, amongst other things, my sleeping bag and the toilet paper for the whole week. Needless to say, the three boys and I were not impressed. Luckily, it was January, so I didn’t miss the sleeping bag at all. But, for the rest—thank God for rangiora leaves!
On a personal note…
Most people don’t know that I:
I was born and grew up in Chile. I’m the youngest of four. My mum gave birth to me a month after a big earthquake, so I’ve had my fair share of them from very early on in life – which is kind of unavoidable when you are living there.
My greatest sporting moment was when:
When I was at university in Chile, I took on fencing – foil – just to try a different sport, and after only three months learning the rules and moves, we travelled to Santiago to compete in a national championship. We were a very small group from a province, competing against bigger and richer clubs. They were a bit cocky and didn’t take us very seriously. After few hours, I found myself in the quarter final, and to my surprise, I won. The girl I had to compete against in the final was quite intimidating, taller and had the crowd cheering for her. We had met before twice on the way to the finals – we each had won once – so when she started scoring points I thought “Oh well, at least I have a silver medal”. I ended up winning my first ever National Fencing Championship – novice category, foil division – to the surprise of my coach and the crowd.
The thing I’m most looking forward to in the next six months is:
I am looking forward to living with my partner in Canada, and getting the chance to explore a bit more of British Columbia. Having to watch out for creatures potentially wanting to poison you will be an experience – and then I’ll have to deal with the fauna! I think by the time you have to use the bear mace (pepper spray) you are too close for comfort!
Before working at DOC:
I worked in forestry in Patagonia, before moving to Australia. For nine months I cleaned houses, pubs, toilets, and mowed lawns before getting a forestry job in South Australia. After five years, I moved to New Zealand – 13 years ago – and had a two-month stint at a sawmill in Whangarei, before getting a contract as ranger at DOC. The rest, as they say, is history (basically, they couldn’t get rid of me).
My most prized possession is:
I was going to say my kiwi passport, however, looking at the things I want to take with me to Canada, I realise how much stuff you can accumulate without noticing. I arrived in New Zealand with a suitcase and a backpack. Now, I found myself organising garage sales and taking stuff to the recycling center, in order to travel light. They are all possessions that can come and go, just stuff that I won’t be able to take with me if I was to fall off my perch, anyway. So – second thought – I would say my most prized possession is a healthy life, without which I wouldn’t be able to enjoy anything else – including my passport.
Deep and meaningful…
My favourite quote is:
There are many, but a couple come to mind: “You can’t change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying too much about the future”. Basically, chill-out or chillax.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is:
Some time ago I read a quote from comedian George Carlin that stuck with me: “Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things”.
In work and life I am motivated by:
The wonders of nature, landscapes, conservation, a good laugh, loyalty, cheeky people (e.g. Keith Hawkins), creativity, imagination, honesty, my co-workers who keep going on despite everything that gets thrown at them, humility, good food, did I say a good laugh?
My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:
Get out and enjoy nature. Look after this little piece of heaven, every bit counts and can make a difference – even starting at home (from switching lights off and recycling, to using less paper or joining a volunteer group to clean a creek or plant trees). We are all connected to Papatūānuku, and what hurts her, it will hurt us. We are transient creatures, we are just tenants, and we don’t have any special right to use, abuse and spoil nature. So, on your way out of this world, try to leave your mark by not leaving any.