Skip to main content

Melisa Zapisocky

Agriculture Initiatives Specialist
Strathcona County
Melisa Zapisocky
Melisa Zapisocky
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

Melisa Zapisocky's job blends knowledge of agriculture with community development.

About me

I was born/grew up in: I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I've spent time working in the Yukon (Canada) and Seattle (Washington State, USA)

I now live in: I live on Treaty 6 (Edmonton, Alberta)

I completed my training/education at: I have a Master of Science degree (in Environmental Studies) from the University of Montana I also have a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation, Tourism and Sport from the University of Alberta. I completed a Project Management Certificate from Northern Alberta Institute in Technology

What I do at work

My job blends knowledge of agriculture with community development. I help create programs that connect people, who live in urban areas, with those growing food and get them thinking about ecology. Designing programs involves a number of steps. I develop a budget of the expected costs and set timelines to be followed. When the project is ready, I help make sure we share it with interested people.

Much of my work is to support the communities' vision of sustainable agriculture. For example, I help create processes for residents to apply for, and add community gardens, as well as other food growing projects to parks. Basic math skills are important when plotting out new garden builds. There are measurements to take on the land for installing a garden and for building materials. For example, if you need to build 60 boxes, you need to know how much lumber you will need. We use math to calculate how much volume of soil is needed to fill the boxes and trailer. I use GIS software, review LiDAR drawings (e.g., land contours) and construction drawings. To check the science of the soil we plan to grow plants in, I use my knowledge of the periodic table and chemistry.

When I make decisions, I consider safety first.  Then I look at efficiency (e.g., how do we save resources, and provide a quality outcome). Each decision must align with our organization's Mission and Goals. A background in STEM helps my decision-making. I think of the ecological function of the area and how this is balanced with the built environment. For example, when I help add urban agriculture projects to the land, I think about the soil health, disease and pests (i.e. clubroot, black knot, invasive weeds) of the area. I also consider water drainage and watersheds, the urban wildlife and pollinator habitat.

I work on many teams. The goal is always to build collaboration. It is important to recognize that your work is part of the bigger picture and find mutually beneficial ways to work together. This means you have to practice 'give and take' and do not be possessive of your work (i.e., it's your team's work). You need to recognize all the ways your team supports you. It's really important to create tools to communicate within your teams. I host quarterly meetings on urban agriculture that any staff from our organization can attend. I also provide annual, visual handouts

My career path is

When I was doing my undergrad, I was interested in being an outdoor guide or working in a recreation facility. I did a practicum with the Agricultural Ministry on Agricultural Tourism and was excited by this work. My team connected with farmers who were looking to do different things on their farm to help educate and connect with their urban neighbours. It was so much fun to work with farmers. This led me to work on farms and with farmer’s markets. From there I became very interested in making connections between urban and rural communities. I also wanted to support local food and local economies.

Food became my entry point to learn about local and global issues. It also helped me learn about the environment and climate change, community development, poverty and health and sustainable, as well as regenerative agriculture. It's been really fun! I've worked with farmers, government and nonprofits across Alberta, in Montana, Seattle and the Yukon. We explore the theme of food, agriculture and community development.

I am motivated by

I am excited when I get to work on new projects that need to be built from the ground up. I like bringing people together to find solutions to something we haven't done before. I also enjoy building the support tools around this work. I like learning new things at work and being part of a diverse team. I feel good about my job when I see that I am helping community members come together to grow food. I find it interesting to learn about how you can make change in your organization. For example, I participate in a volunteer "Engagement team" at work. This team helps bring fun ways for our team to connect with each other.

How I affect people’s lives

I help community members participate in re-imagining their parks and greenspaces by adding food growing projects to the land. These projects are not large. However they help neighbours get to meet one another, teach children and others about growing food and ecology. These projects also encourage people to spend more time outdoors and lead to greater civic and community engagement. One project, can lead to another and another.

Outside of work I

I enjoy exploring the natural and wild areas of my City. I am beginning to study and identify trees and shrubs. I like gardening and am learning about pollinators and native plants. Hiking in the mountains is probably my favourite thing to do. Cross-country skiing, reading and cooking are some of my favourite activities.

My advice to others

Be flexible and open to new opportunities that take you to different places. Don't define or label yourself based on the work you do. Always keep learning! Try to meet new people, from different communities, careers, demographics and lifestyles. Join a board or committee and put the time into people and projects. If something feels boring, it's time change!

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Literature and English language arts
  • Physical Education/Health
  • Careers
  • Technology (I enjoyed the hands on projects, welding and silk screen printing)
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Liked helping people
  • Played on a sports team
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Liked reading
  • Wasn't sure what I wanted to do
  • I was excited to get to post-secondary studies so I could be immersed in new things and ways of thinking, and be more self-directed in my studies

Explore Career Profiles

  • Dr. Harpreet Kochhar at standup computer station in his office.

    Dr. Harpreet Kochhar

    President

    I am the head of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
  • Isabel Hilgendag in the fileld collecting samples in the Arctic

    Isabel Hilgendag

    MSc Student (Biology)

    I look for heavy metals, such as mercury, in Arctic marine animals, to ensure they are safe to eat.
  • Manpreet Kaur in her lab

    Manpreet Kaur (She/Her)

    Postdoctoral Fellow

    I work on research projects to discover drugs to treat infectious diseases.
  • Ryan Mitchell headshot

    Ryan Mitchell

    Hatchery Supervisor

    My job is to supervise the daily workflow at our salmon hatchery.
  • Daryl Lawes in front of one of Seaspan’s many tugboats supporting marine transportation.

    Daryl Lawes

    Environment Manager

    I am responsible for all aspects of environmental protection, performance, and regulatory compliance for Seaspan Shipyards.
  • Corie HOuldsworth headshot

    Corie Houldsworth

    Inspector

    I perform inspections of worksites where radiation is used, stored or transported.
  • Terra MacDonald at aquaculture site holding farmed salmon.

    Terra MacDonald (she/her)

    Veterinarian and Fish Health Manager

    As the veterinarian for Mowi Canada West, I care for the salmon at all life stages, from egg to harvest.
  • Isha Berry Headshot

    Isha Berry

    Epidemiologist

    I look for patterns in disease outbreaks and health outcomes in populations across the world.
  • Clair Poulin hiking near wetland area

    Claire Poulin

    Zebrafish Researcher/Pre-Med Student

    I am researching how Zebrafish respond to lower oxygen levels in their environment.
  • Jasmin Chahal headshot

    Jasmin Chahal

    Assistant Professor

    I teach in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at McGill University.
  • Lynn Henderson with German Sheppard dog

    Lynn Henderson (she/her)

    Veterinarian, Clinician, and College Professor

    I am a small animal veterinarian serving animal health in a variety of capacities.
  • Anastasiia Prysyazhnyuk headshot

    Anastasiia Prysyazhnyuk

    Science and Innovation Lead, Health Beyond Initiative

    I explore ways in which science and technology can provide solutions to healthcare problems in space and on Earth.
  • Hayleigh Conway laying on map of NWT and pointing to Inuvik on the map. Taken on GIS Day 2017.

    Hayleigh Conway (she/her)

    Geomatics Technician

    I make maps that help answer questions about the health of the environment in the Western Arctic.
  • Megan Katz headshot

    Megan Katz

    Prosthetic Technician

    Megan is a prosthetic technician who makes and repairs artificial limbs.
  • Dr. Jackie Dawson doing field research on Beechy Island, Nunavut.

    Jackie Dawson (she/her/they)

    Professor and Canada Research Chair

    I work with large teams of academics, Inuit knowledge holders, and decision makers to understand the risks and solutions to environmental change.
  • Katie Harris essayant une combinaison spatiale de simulation au Centre européen des astronautes.

    Katie Harris (she/her)

    Medical Student/Prospective Aerospace Medicine Specialist

    I am working towards a career as an aerospace medicine specialist - a doctor who works with astronauts and keeps them healthy for long missions!
  • Chris Derksen en train de faire ses recherches sur le terrain en Arctique.

    Chris Derksen (he/his)

    Climate Scientist

    I use satellite data and climate models to understand how climate change is impacting snow and ice across Canada.
  • Shari Forbes à l'extérieur du centre de décomposition humaine

    Shari Forbes (she/her/elle)

    Forensic Scientist

    I conduct research to understand how the human body decomposes in our unique Canadian environment.
  • Viviana Ramirez-Luna dehors en hiver

    Viviana Ramirez-Luna (she/her)

    Environmental Entrepreneur

    I founded (and run) a consulting company to help businesses, communities, and organizations reduce the waste they produce
  • Andrew Brereton travaillant à l'ordinateur

    Andrew E. Brereton

    Computational Scientist

    I write code that teaches computers how to design new drugs.