8 for 8: Celebrating International Women's Day at NCC
To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, 2016, I asked biologist Marie-Michèle Rousseau-Clair to answer eight questions about her work at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), along with what led her to her current role as stewardship compliance manager.
1. First of all, please define the term "stewardship" in the context of your work.
To me, stewardship is about the long-term protection of natural areas. “Stewardship” encompasses all of the activities needed to ensure the protection and maintenance of natural ecosystems, including: surveillance, restoration, rehabilitation, species monitoring, the improvement of natural features on protected sites and public access. Stewardship is therefore a broad area with many possible outcomes.
2. Describe your role at NCC.
Since Canada boasts an impressive variety of ecosystems, it is important that we use the best possible tools in our work across the country. My role is to ensure that NCC adopts the best stewardship practices and standards. Above all, I aim to ensure that our stewardship practices are adopted as consistently as possible across the organization.
3. Has time in nature always been important to you?
As a child, I was lucky to grow up close to nature. I played in the forest next to our home every day. Nature was part of me, but I never imagined that it could one day shape my career!
4. When did you realize that you needed to make nature the focus of your career?
To be honest, my initial goal was to be a psychiatrist, to help people and contribute to a better world. But during my studies I realized that the best way to help was to protect the natural world that allows us to exist.
5. Tell us some more about your academic studies.
In the end I didn’t end up enrolling in medicine! My passion for the natural sciences led me to a bachelor’s degree in biology. That’s really where that I became aware that nature could form an important part of my career, without necessarily pursuing a career in research. I then continued my studies with a master’s in project management and restoration, and finally a diploma in stewardship and sustainability.
6. Please describe your professional journey so far.
My master’s degree included an internship for which I needed to produce an analysis of an organization’s project management processes. With a bachelor’s in biology and wishing to integrate nature into my career, an internship with the Nature Conservancy of Canada seemed to me to be the perfect fit. I fell in love with this work! I quickly progressed from intern to employee, and have quietly moved up the ranks. It’s been nearly nine years since I started working at NCC.
7. What qualities do you possess that make you a good fit for your work with NCC?
I’m resourceful, a problem-solver, reliable and not scared of change.
8. What do you predict is the future of conservation?
I believe that conservation organizations will need to address a growing demand for access to natural areas, without compromising the protection of the rarest and most fragile habitats. The general public will also expect that conservation groups continue to improve their practices and prove to our supporters that we are an efficient and effective organization contributing to the long-term conservation of our natural areas.