When the personal and the professional align
The immeasurable satisfaction of working for a values-based organization
Emma and Nicole are carrying barbed wire to clear the way for wildlife. (Photo by NCC)
There's a special satisfaction to be found in working for a cause you believe in, especially when that cause involves something as important as the protection of Canada's nature. That’s just one of the many rewards that members of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) team enjoy.
We recently asked staff to describe how NCC’s values align with their own. Here’s what a few of our colleagues had to say:
Nancy Newhouse, regional vice-president, BC Region (Photo courtesy N. Newhouse)
Nancy Newhouse, BC regional vice-president
Durable conservation outcomes
I have a poster up on my wall with NCC’s values on it and I insist that staff have it displayed in their workspace, too. I often refer to it when I’m writing a letter or working on a proposal.
All of NCC’s values resonate with me, but the one about durable and conservation outcomes does the most. I find it motivating as it speaks to collaboration and cooperation. It aligns most closely with how I like to work.
Looking back on our Wills from before we had kids, my husband and I had written that if we had no heirs, we’d like our assets to go to an organization that conserved private land. I didn’t even know if such an organization existed, and I didn’t know NCC existed. But I knew I cared about the habitats I was seeing were changing and being lost, and that I wanted to see them protected for the long term.
Respect for nature and people
I think respect for nature and people is critical. I like to think one objective for our work in the BC Region is to demonstrate excellence in land trust work. What we do here has the potential to set the tone and examples that could be applied elsewhere in the world.
I also believe respect for nature and people is fundamental to achieving conservation outcomes.
Lucie Veillette, Stewardship Coordinator
Lucie Veillette, stewardship coordinator in Quebec
Conservation through collaboration and cooperation
All forms of life fascinate me. And since each species is a work of art, seeing species disappear is dramatic. Collaborating with partners from all walks of life in order to conserve natural areas is one way to stem the disappearance of species, as well as a daily source of inspiration.
Leveraging each other’s work increases the scope of our actions. The contributions of our donors, the commitment of local communities and NCC’s involvement in various types of projects remind me each day how people’s hearts are involved in this work.
Andrew Holland, Director of Communications for NCC in the Atlantic Region (Photo by NCC)
Andrew Holland, national director, media relations
Our on the ground conservation work could not be achieved without working closely with people and communities. Owning real estate is like a badge of honour in many parts of the country, with families having lands for many generations. Therefore, considering entrusting a woodlot, coastal property or salt marsh can be a deeply personal decision for many families.
These landowners want to ensure the people they are working with operate in an honest manner and with the utmost integrity. These relationships underpin our work, so it is sustainable over the long term.
A few years after selling a house, many people will take a drive by their old neighbourhood to see who still lives there and see what has changed. The same for people who have donated or sold land to us. They want to see that is being cared for in a respectful way and restored back to its natural state. They want to feel good about that decision to conserve the family’s land. Delivering on that is showing integrity and loyalty to the people you have made agreements with.
Sarah tracking bats at the Nebo property in Saskatchewan (Photo by Joseph Poissant)
Sarah Ludlow, conservation science coordinator/GIS coordinator in Saskatchewan
Evidence-based decision-making and Respect for nature and people
Nature doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and very little of the
natural world is untouched by human activities. As a result, maintaining a healthy ecosystem often requires direct management actions. Land that NCC owns (in SK at least) are not left idle, instead they are managed in a way that promotes greater biodiversity and improves habitat quality (and sometimes quantity). For example, native grasslands are grazed with cattle; without this grazing, habitat quality of the native grasslands would decline, and these areas would cease to be suitable habitat for many species (several of which are of conservation concern).
Prior to European settlement, the Great Plains in North America were grazed by millions of bison. The bison are gone now, and cattle represent the best analog we currently have to maintain this natural disturbance (i.e. grazing) on the landscape. Such management decisions at NCC are based on the most current research available with the goal of creating or maintaining a healthy ecosystem, rather than gaining a profit by grazing as many cows as possible.
In this way, NCC’s values align with my own, as I agree that conservation outcomes should come before profit. NCC works with the local ranching community to graze their lands, and in this way, NCC supports the local communities. I have a strong science background and the evidence-based decision making is something I appreciate about NCC.
Finally, there are so many species for which habitat loss is listed as the primary cause of their population declines and I am proud to work for an organization whose primary goal is conserving this habitat; in this way, NCC is on the “front lines” of conservation.
Jenna Siu, butterfly count, Carden Alvar, ON (Photo by NCC)
Jenna Siu, conservation coordinator in Ontario
Conservation through collaboration and cooperation
Collaboration and cooperation are key to conservation success. We often share a common goal with members of the community, partners, donors and volunteers to protect and steward more land for biodiversity and there are many roles required to reach that goal. Facilitating a supportive atmosphere encourages and motivates others to contribute to this goal and we can better achieve it.
In my role planning and implementing stewardship actions on the ground, I rely on these different groups to be able to do my work. For example, community members and neighbours often provide access to our properties and help keep an eye on them. We have dedicated volunteers who have valuable skills and help us on the ground, and the support from donors, partners and staff makes this work possible.
I came to the field of conservation biology primarily through formal education of learning about the natural world. It was learning about the small interactions from genes being passed on to the next generation to how individuals interact with their own species and other species to the big picture ideas of how these parts fit into an ecosystem and how landscapes change over time that taught me how complex nature’s processes are.
Since then, I’ve had a number of opportunities to observe nature at work and I am grateful that it is part of my job to do so. These experiences have built my appreciation and respect for nature’s processes. In a world that is rapidly changing, it’s important to remember that when nature thrives, the Earth’s inhabitants thrive. By protecting these areas and managing the lands and waters for their natural values, we are creating real conservation outcomes that ultimately benefit all.