November 6, 2023
Meet Louise - Founder of Geolearns
As we reflect on the bravery and courage of veterans, we find inspiration in the career journeys they have taken beyond the uniform. This Veterans Week, Prince's Trust Canada is showcasing women-identifying veteran entrepreneurs and shining a light on their remarkable stories.
In this spotlight, we sat down with Louise Leslie, a Canadian veteran who served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 42 years, first as a medic and then as a Health Care Administration officer. She started her own business after her service as the principal owner of GeoLearns, based in Two Islands, Nova Scotia.
Hi, Louise! Thank you for taking the time out of your day to share your story Can you tell us more about your business? What inspired you to start it and what is your mission?
"I've always loved the outdoors, so choosing geology was a natural fit. While working as a geologist in Calgary, I volunteered to visit a grade 3 classroom to teach the rock and mineral unit. It was this experience that inspired me to start my own business after retiring from the armed forces. So, before leaving the military, I completed a master's in environmental education and communication to help me develop my business idea.
What my business does is help teachers teach geology through workshops and classroom educational resources that I have created. Many teachers, especially at the elementary level, lack the foundations to effectively teach geology, even the basics of it. There is no better classroom for learning earth science than the natural outdoor environment. Therefore, offering experiential learning in beautiful Nova Scotia is beneficial to both teachers and students."
Can you share with us a bit about your military background and what led you to join the armed forces?
“I grew up in a military environment, so I knew what it was about. Because it was a chance to be outdoors, that appealed to me. I joined the Army Reserves right out of high school, it was just meant to be a summer job. I continued on two career paths, one in the Reserves and one as a geologist. In my forties I made the decision to end my geology career and transferred to the Regular Force.”
Were there specific skills or lessons from your military experience that transferred well to your entrepreneurial journey? If so, what were they?
"In the Reserves, it's common that when you take a course, you end up returning the following summer to teach the course. There were numerous opportunities for me to be in front of a classroom, which allowed me to develop those skills. I also served as a medical planner; I enjoyed organizing and planning military training. During my time at the national military headquarters, I developed non-clinical training standards for the health services and planned the medical scenarios for major field exercises. So, those skills of writing and preparing education and training materials were beneficial in both environments."
Is there any message you’d like to give to future Veterans transitioning to civilian life who are considering becoming entrepreneurs?
"I chose my passion; it's not about the money for me. There are numerous resources out there, including Prince's Trust Canada, CAF Veteran Affairs, etc. My advice is, if you encounter skeptics, don't listen to them and keep moving forward if you believe in what you are doing."
How has PTC’s programming helped you on your entrepreneurial journey?
"Prince's Trust Canada's boot camps were outstanding. There were plenty of great resources and expertise that enabled me to fast-track my business plans. Following that was its mentorship program. I've continued with a number of different mentors, and they've been a great sounding board throughout my business journey. Having a community that I've been able to rely on has been crucial and rewarding."
To find Veteran-Owned businesses like Geolearns, visit the BuyVeteran.ca directory. With over 600+ Veteran-owned businesses on the directory across Canada, it’s easier than ever to support a Veteran-owned small business.
Prince’s Trust Canada’s Veteran programming makes the transition from military service to entrepreneurship accessible by providing expert advice, resources and mentorship Veterans need to become successful business owners. To learn more, visit the Veterans & Military page on princestrust.ca.