Connecting to nature through volunteering

Volunteers cleaning-up the Prairie Garden (Photo by NCC)

Volunteers cleaning-up the Prairie Garden (Photo by NCC)

April 24, 2017 | by Adam Hunter

About seven years ago, I went on a tree planting field trip with my Grade 11 biology class. Although it was optional, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity for me to connect with my fellow classmates and nature. I had a blast on this trip and still remember it vividly to this day. In fact, it was the first time I had ever encountered a garter snake in the wild, a species that I had always wanted to see as a young kid. Had I not gone on this trip, I would not have had this incredible experience.

If you're looking for a similar experience, there are many nature conservation volunteer opportunities, where you can breathe some fresh air, meet others with similar interests and explore new areas, all while protecting nature and wildlife. National Volunteer Week, April 23 to 29, is a perfect time to partake in one of these opportunities. Through its Conservation Volunteers program, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), offers Canadians a variety of important, hands-on and fun volunteer opportunities to keep nature top of mind:

Bye-bye invaders

Invasive species threaten native wildlife and can also lead to direct economic loss. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has called invasive species the second greatest threat to biodiversity around the world. Some, such as glossy buckthorn, are detrimental to forests, while others, such as leafy spurge and yellow flag iris, negatively impact crops and the quality of grazing lands.

 	Conservation Volunteers removing invasive species from sand dunes at James Island (Photo by NCC)

Conservation Volunteers removing invasive species from sand dunes at James Island (Photo by NCC)

This spring and summer, you can do your part to help reduce the threats these invaders pose by assisting NCC with research, above-ground biomass removal or the testing of biological control agents.

When and where you can do it:

In Ontario

When life gives you mustard…make pesto!
When: April 29, 2017 Where: Milburn Creek Property

Eviction Notice: Garlic Mustard (2)
When: May 5, 2017 Where: Happy Valley Forest

In Alberta

All aboard for Grassland Health!
When: June 3, 2017 • Where: Sandstone Ranch

Ready, Set, Reclaim!
When: July 7, 2017 • Where: Fleming Ranch

In Quebec

Repel the invaders!
When: July 15, 2017 • Where: Lake Champlain

Wild for wildlife

NCC offers opportunities for volunteers to increase their knowledge of biodiversity by helping biologists observe and document wildlife species, including songbirds, waterfowl, butterflies and dragonflies. Often, these species act as canaries in the coal mine, meaning they have greater sensitivity to environmental changes than other species and can, in turn, indicate an ecosystem’s general health. In the past, NCC has also given volunteers opportunities to create burrowing owl habitat and conduct censuses on endangered piping plover habitat.

When and where you can do it:

NCC birding workshop and survey in Miscou Island, NB (Photo by NCC)

NCC birding workshop and survey in Miscou Island, NB (Photo by NCC)

In Newfoundland

Codroy Valley BioBlitz
When: July 8, 2017 • Where: Grand Codroy Estuary Nature Reserve

In Saskatchewan

Check out the View at Wideview!
When: June 24, 2017 • Where: Wideview

In Manitoba

Tall Grass Prairie Monarch Survey
When: July 21, 2017 • Where: Tall Grass Prairie Natural Area

Happy trails for you

The building and upkeep of nature trails make enjoying nature safe and accessible, prevents people from walking on and damaging vegetation and contributes to the overall enjoyment, health and economic richness of local communities. This kind of volunteering may include installing directional signs, removing errant vegetation and barbed wire fencing, and monitoring trails to classify their difficulty level for hikers.

When and where you can do it:

Trail building in Gaff Point, NS (Photo by NCC)

Trail building in Gaff Point, NS (Photo by NCC)

In New Brunswick

Musquash Black Beach Trailblazer
When: May 26, 2017 • Where: Musquash Estuary

In Nova Scotia

Musquodoboit Trailblazers
When May 27, 2017 • Where: Musquodoboit River Nature Reserve 

Sights and Sounds of Brier Island
When: August 26, 2017 • Where: Brier Island Natue Reserve

For more events happening near you and for information about the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Conservation Volunteers program, click here.

Adam Hunter (Photo courtesy of Adam Hunter)

About the Author

Adam Hunter Adam Hunter is the editorial coordinator at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Read more about Adam Hunter.

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