Many strengths, one mindset
When I was hired as a conservation technician for the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) Ontario Region, I could barely contain my excitement! Getting hands-on conservation work experience with like-minded individuals had always been a dream, and now it was coming to life. I was placed with the eastern Ontario team, and in no time we became like family. Everyone was there to work for something greater than themselves and shared the same passion for conservation.
Some of us were much more experienced with conservation techniques, such as species identification and stewardship work, while others were stronger in conservation outreach and communications. Together, we complemented each other well. Thanks to this hands-on position and my co-workers, my skills accelerated immensely in a timespan of only a couple of months.
There were always opportunities to bring out my strengths and work on my weaknesses. When the opportunity arose to provide outreach to school groups and spend the day leading them through conservation work, my experience with past youth programs came in handy and I was able to lead confidently.
When it came to identifying species in the field, an area I had just recently started to practice, NCC provided all the necessary tools to help me complete accurate identifications. With the help of my co-workers, I quickly gained more confidence. I also had the chance to contribute other skills, like artistic design for certain events, which I wasn’t expecting but was thrilled to do. We all had experience with different situations, which helped us successfully complete all aspects of the work when we combined our strengths.
I’ll never forget some of our work days, where we all contributed a unique skill. Whether it was hiking or removing invasive species in the field, prepping our supplies, planning in the office or entering data, we would remind each other of specific duties or notice a unique detail where another might not.
There was one field day where my co-workers and I had to take a boat to a property to remove some invasive Japanese knotweed. My co-worker Ally, who was most experienced with herbicide preparation, made sure we remembered all the important details and equipment needed for treatment, including the herbicide shed keys, which were easily forgotten. I, having experience and confidence with boating, took charge of getting us around the water safely and to the property. Meanwhile, Maggie, another co-worker, was able to identify most of the incredible vegetation we stumbled upon. By working together we had a very successful day.
We always complemented each other while sharing one mindset: all for conservation. Sharing this with many unique people was truly refreshing and inspiring. Working with the 2018 eastern Ontario team has helped me fulfill my yearning to learn about all things conservation that I had been so badly craving. The experience taught me to be honest with your co-workers about what you are good at and not so good at, to not only create an opportunity for an honest relationship, but for them to share their personal skills with you.
Everyone has a unique past and experience, which when embraced together, can create an unstoppable team that can handle pretty much anything. NCC and the eastern Ontario team gave me an incredible opportunity that I’m so thankful for, which will no doubt help me succeed in working with others for conservation in the future.