by Stewart Prest, submitted 2009
Question: What do English majors and county planners have in common?
Answer: They both count Anjah Howard among their ranks.
In some ways, Anjah’s as surprised as anyone. “If you had asked me if I would become a planner in high school or even at university, I would have said, ‘what on earth is that?’ At the same time though, a background in English really helps me do my job. After all, ninety percent of the work is communication. The technical aspects are easy to pick up, but it’s the communication that’s vital, whether dealing with people one-on-one, proofing by-laws, or making presentations to Council.”
The 32-year-old Augustana graduate, who also completed a minor in political studies, has been Manager of Planning and Development for Camrose County for five years. She oversees all land development and rezoning in the county outside the City of Camrose, and is responsible for the long term planning documents as well.
“A big part of my role is to act as a liaison between the public on the one hand, who are proposing new uses for their land, and the elected county council on the other, who are trying to develop a long-term vision for the county.
“Everyone wants to do something new with their land which creates more land use conflict. Ten years ago, most of the community was agriculturally based. Now, with some wanting to retire from farming and land prices going up, people are looking for new ways to use their land. As a result, you get competing ideas between someone wanting to developing acreages and the neighbour down the road with 500 head of cattle. It’s my job to try and mediate a solution that makes everyone happy.”
Outside work, she has been a member of the Rotary Club of Camrose since 2005. “I’ve just been appointed as International Coordinator. Each year the club sends and receives one high school student. This year, we’re hosting a student from Denmark and have sent a local student to Thailand. It’s a great program – I think the cultural exchanges are wonderful for everyone involved.”
Anjah’s other major time commitment at the moment is through her role as trustee of the Camrose Public Library, serving on both the policy development and technology committees. “The big push at the technology committee right now is to bring the library out to the people. The technology exists today to allow people to use library resources without ever setting foot in the building. This is especially important for people that cannot physically access the library on a regular basis because of distance, lack of mobility or transportation. It’s an excellent way to promote literacy in Camrose and the surrounding area.”
It seems that English majors and county planners have a lot in common after all.