Nero Property (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

Nero Property (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

NCC’s Dale Gross reflects on the people who contribute to outstanding conservation

'They want something that they don’t think the world can offer them,' NCC’s Dale Gross says on people who donate their land to nature

Dale Gross explores NCC's Wideview property. (Photo by NCC)

Dale Gross explores NCC's Wideview property. (Photo by NCC)

Over the four years that Dale Gross worked at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), he was continually amazed by the passion that landowners had for conservation. It’s one thing he’ll miss as he moves on. Gross joined NCC as the director of conservation and then worked to manage the Missouri Coteau. He’ll be leaving NCC in an official role to pursue PhD research, but not without the memories of meeting the people who shared his passion.

“It’s fascinating,” Gross said of meeting the ranchers who wanted to donate land. Some of these families had lived on their property for generations, acting as stewards of the land. When it came time for the family to leave, they wanted it protected. That’s when they would contact NCC.

“You know that somehow they want something that they don’t think the world can offer them,” he said. “Preservation of that area in something that they think is important.”

It takes a special kind of person to donate the land to nature.

“It’s that ethic, a land ethic, I almost say a romance; you know they seem to have romantic feelings for the land,” he said.

Gross won’t just miss the people who gave NCC their land. He accomplished a lot in his time, including setting up Learning the Land, a program that teaches Treaty 4 students about conservation by merging western science and traditional Indigenous knowledge.

Gross said it was outside of the realm of NCC’s traditional work, but it showed the organization’s ability to build partnerships and trust for the betterment of the environment and the people who rely on it. He praises NCC’s conservation model for making the Learning the Land program possible

“If you can think of it and find a way to fund it, you can do it. That’s a powerful model.”

With a long list of his own contributions to the organization, Gross still knows what he’ll miss most.

“The people,” he said. “Without hesitation.”

He’s seen his co-workers work hard to accomplish great things. And NCC staff have the secret ingredient to work success.

“They want to make a difference. They’re people that actually want to do something.”

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