Q&A with Nature Conservancy of Canada volunteers
Volunteers at Musquash Black Beach trail lookout (Photo by NCC)
From trail maintenance in Musquash, to the Escuminac beach cleanup, 2016 was a very successful year for our volunteers. In this Q&A, we sat down with Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) volunteers Gary Hyslop and Sonya Hinds to hear about the highlights from their point of view.
Q. NCC’s Musquash trails near Saint John are becoming more popular. Can you tell us how volunteers played a role in stewardship?
Gary Hyslop: As the trail steward for the Black Beach Trail, I was very hopeful that we’d be able to get some work done on remediating some of the muddy sections of the trail which were causing users to divert and widen the trail. With the help of our volunteer day back in June, we were able to build a couple of great bog bridges along some of these sections. These will both help preserve the trail as well as make a more enjoyable experience for hikers.
Q. What were some of the highlights for you from the CV events held at Musquash this past year?
Gary: Though I always enjoy getting out on the trails on my own to either hike or do some maintenance, working side by side with other volunteers is a special and wonderful experience. On the CV events this past year, I was pleased to get help in doing some important trail work, but I was even more impressed by the enthusiasm, helpfulness and dedication of the volunteers that turned out. This past year during the event, we were pleased to have Matthew Bingley from the CBC New Brunswick come out to do some interviews and an article about NCC and our trail work. It was great fun!
Q. 2017 is off and running! What are some of the goals you would like to reach this year as a volunteer?
Gary: As the Black Beach Trail steward, I’m hoping to continue the work in fixing up some of the muddier areas and make this beautiful trail even more enjoyable for hikers. I’m hoping to get a chance to just come out as a volunteer for other NCC events, as well.
Q. What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering for NCC?
Gary: For someone thinking about volunteering with NCC, I would say just do it! There are a variety of volunteer experiences available through the year, and in my experience they’ve always been well run and very enjoyable. If you don’t think you have anything to contribute, think again! Every little bit helps.
Q. NCC had a great year in terms of development. What were some of the goals you completed this year as a property steward?
Sonya Hinds: I had two goals in 2016: 1. To learn more about my stewardship responsibilities. This was achieved at NCC’s volunteer workshop in May at Atlantic Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre at Cookville. 2. To encourage members of Nature Miramichi (local nature club) to experience the Escuminac property. This was achieved at the Beach cleanup in September where members of Miramichi Nature participated. I am hoping that this will result in an ongoing partnership.
Q. What were some of your favourite moments as a conservation volunteer during 2016?
Sonya: I really enjoyed learning more about my role as a steward at the workshop in May. It was especially interesting to learn how to use a GPS. I was very impressed by the method of learning — each volunteer basically received one-on-one coaching with an expert! I am now in the possession of a GPS that the NCC loaned me — I will be using it this next season.
Q. With the beginning of a new year, do you have any stewarding tasks you would like to complete in the year 2017?
Sonya: My main goal this year is to use the GPS to learn more about the Escuminac property. The property is fairly large and I will use the GPS to get to know it more intimately.
Q. What are some of the benefits you gain by volunteering for an organization like NCC?
Sonya: One of the major benefits of volunteering with NCC is that I get to meet like-minded people. In this fast-paced world, it is gratifying to meet down-to-earth people who are more concerned about conservation than technology.