Denise Harris, Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary, AB (Photo by NCC)
Denise Harris has been a dedicated Conservation Volunteer (CV) since 2009. Since then, she has attended more than 75 CV events. Denise has been awarded the Golden Glove twice for her tremendous dedication and efforts — first in 2013 and then again in 2017.
Neither rain, sleet or even dental surgery kept Denise from volunteering with NCC last summer. Where there are stewardships project to be tackled, she there is — even when it means driving over 700 kilometres from her home in Edmonton to take part in a cross-border project in Saskatchewan.
In 2018, Denise was an award winner at National Philanthropy Day for her volunteerism and monetary contributions to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).
Why do you volunteer for the Nature Conservancy of Canada?
Denise: Volunteering is my way of expressing my gratitude to nature for all that she has given and shared with me. As a child, nature’s abundant beauty awakened my curiosity while providing opportunities that enriched and inspired me.
Whether it was testing a puddle to see if my rubber boots were tall enough to cross…or being mesmerized by the cloud transformations from a rabbit to an elephant to a castle to a princess…or discovering a cocoon and learning about the fuzzy caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a beautiful moth or butterfly…or tasting the sweet nectar of fresh-picked wild strawberries, raspberries and saskatoons…or providing the best hiding places when Mother had a long chore list…nature never failed to entertain, capturing my heart and infusing my imagination with wondrous ideas and joy-filled experiences.
Soul-enriching memories that, as an adult, I had forgotten about, that is, until I became involved with the NCC's volunteer program.
As an adult, I continue to wonder at the beauty of the umbers and violet hues cascading throughout nature's sunrises and sunsets. The walks down her numerous pathways continue to fill my soul with peace, love, hope, health and happiness. The joyful surprise I feel while exploring and learning about something new, like when I discovered what at first appeared to be a willow branch was in fact a baby black crowned night heron.
The inspiration I feel each time I am awakened by the call of the common loon…or the excitement of hearing the thunder of wild horses' hoofs...or the awe at viewing a multi-tiered beaver damn…or the thrills and chills that run up and down my spine while listening to the call of a lone wolf.
I am grateful to NCC for providing the opportunity and to nature for challenging me to face and conquer my fears, like when I stood with weak knees between the dens of two rattle snakes. Nature is still my muse, my teacher and it is with heartfelt respect that I honour and treasure her gifts.
So it is with respect for nature and gratitude to NCC for providing numerous and diverse opportunities for me to say, "Thank you to all, for all that I have and have yet to receive."