Connect with people and nature through volunteering

Conservation Volunteers planting trees at Swishwash Island, BC (Photo by NCC)

Conservation Volunteers planting trees at Swishwash Island, BC (Photo by NCC)

April 16, 2018 | by Micheline Khan

For me, spring is a time of new beginnings. As the ground starts to thaw and we begin to shed our winter layers, the rhythm of the season draws us outdoors, where we can breathe in the fresh spring air. Spring bulbs push their way through the cold ground and treetops slowly become blanketed in green again as nature renews itself.

And this spring, there is another cause for celebration, one that honours the coming together of people to do good for their communities: National Volunteer Week. Taking place from April 15 to 21, National Volunteer Week's roots run deep. It was introduced to highlight the significant contributions that Canadian women made on the home front in 1943 during the Second World War. It was then expanded to honour all communities and volunteers from coast to coast.

National Volunteer Week also marks the launch of the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) 2018 Conservation Volunteers (CV) season. Since 2006, thousands of volunteers have worked alongside NCC conservation staff to help care for our country’s natural spaces.

Volunteer at Gambling Lake, AB (Photo by NCC).

Volunteer at Gambling Lake, AB (Photo by NCC).

The CV program provides volunteers with the opportunity to explore unique places while learning about conservation practices, plants, animals and local natural history from NCC experts. They also learn new skills, such as planting native species, building trails, enhancing wildlife corridors, identifying species and collecting important data about our native plants and animals.

I once read that moose and Canada jays share a mutualistic relationship. The birds eat the mosquitos and ticks off the moose’s back, leaving the moose parasite-free. A mutualistic relationship happens when two organisms of different species work together, and each benefits from the relationship. When I volunteer my time and skills to help my community, we share a mutualistic relationship. This relationship connects me to all of nature and fills me with a sense of responsibility and contribution; a deeply held desire to protect and conserve the environment in any way that I can.

Garlic mustard removal at Severn Woodlands, ON (Photo by NCC)

Garlic mustard removal at Severn Woodlands, ON (Photo by NCC)

Being outdoors and contributing to something bigger than myself, in the company of others, always leaves me feeling revived and connected. While volunteering can be great for the soul, it can also be a great space to meet others from near and far who share an interest in nature. You never know who you’ll meet, what insights they’ll have or what impact they may have on your life.

“NCC’s Conservation Volunteers program is a great way to get out and do something active and useful, as well as meet like-minded people and learn about local conservation issues close up,” says NCC volunteer Bill Taylor. “NCC staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and the organization of the events is coordinated extremely well. My wife and I have been out on a few events and plan to make time to do more.”

Celebrate National Volunteer Week by taking a peek at the exciting volunteer opportunities coming to your area this spring and summer.

This program has been made possible thanks to the support of Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life, the national sponsor of NCC’s Conservation Volunteers program.

Micheline Khan

About the Author

Micheline Khan is the conservation engagement coordinator for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Read more about Micheline Khan.

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