Become an ambassador for nature! Why I volunteer my time for conservation

Mallards (Photo by Denise Harris)

Mallards (Photo by Denise Harris)

April 20, 2015 | by Denise Harris

I love to learn new things. It supports my ideal of evolving; of becoming more today than I was yesterday. For example, one day as I sat watching waterfowl, I happened to spy a mallard duck feeding close by. As he dove to feed, all I could see was the undulation of his orange webbed feet at the surface of the water. Have you ever heard the term “treading water”? Well, this experience certainly delivered a far more powerful definition, as well as clarification as to how, perhaps, the term was derived. Imagine yourself upside down; battling current and waves, while simultaneously trying to pry loose a morsel of food, using only your mouth. How precarious is that?  

Black crowned night heron (Photo by Denise Harris)

Black crowned night heron (Photo by Denise Harris)

How about those times when you discover a species that you never knew existed? I was observing my surroundings when I glimpsed a single willow branch swaying. What? How could this be? There was no breeze of any kind. As I studied the area, seeking evidence of the perpetrator, I noticed another willow branch sway. Who was doing that? With fascination and curiosity in full bloom I focused all of my attention upon the area. At last a faint form of something moving. A wing flap unveiled the culprit. Eventually I located several Grandpa Munster-shaped birds. Talk about blending in with the woodwork! The object of my fascination? Well they turned out to be black-crowned night heron fledglings. 

I remember the time I watched an ermine hunt a mouse. The mouse lost the game of hide-and-seek because he forgot the most important rule of all: don’t break for home, until “it," the seeker, is a long ways off. So, here’s my question: did humans learn from nature and then teach their children the game? A game that at one time made all the difference between well-being and starvation.

Remember when you last witnessed an event that somehow managed to transform your perspective on life? For me, it was at NCC’s Coyote Lake property, while a fellow Conservation Volunteer and I watched a mama coyote relaxing in the deep grass. Around her, her two pups playfully fought and frolicked. How many times had I, as a mother, sat relaxing in the sun while my daughter and a friend frolicked about? In honesty, not very many, but what struck me the most was the realization of the similarity in our life experiences. After all, what parent does not enjoy getting a short break from the endless list of duties, obligations and responsibilities?

Our natural environment, which the Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC's) Conservation Volunteers program supports, fuels my curiosity and sparks my passion for adventure and discovery. Nature is one of my life teachers and with each new lesson I hopefully gain a little wisdom. I am humbled by nature's fortitude and grace. As an admirer of nature, I often times find myself talking others about the subject of nature. For you see, once I start talking, it’s hard to stop espousing nature's numerous gifts and virtues. 

As one of nature’s ambassadors, I lend a hand to nature by “walking the talk.” I recognize that nature and humans are inextricably linked. Through NCC’s varied initiatives such as the Conservation Volunteers program, each of us can uniquely make a positive change. For myself, by supporting numerous NCC volunteer events, I have received far more than I have given. Each new season, each new event I receive mental, physical and emotional health and well-being; in addition to being enriched with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the complex environment that sustains us all.

Denise Harris, Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary, AB (Photo by NCC)

About the Author

Denise Harris Denise Harris is a dedicated NCC Conservation Volunteer that actively gives her time to assist with meaningful stewardship projects across Alberta.

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