From hot and buggy, to warm and fuzzy: Inspiration abounds at Conservation Volunteers events
In my five years working at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), I’ve led countless Conservation Volunteers (CV) events. Working together, volunteers and I have pulled invasive species, planted trees, stabilized riverbanks and counted butterflies. I have worked with hundreds of volunteers who brought their different backgrounds, interests and personalities to the field, making each event unique and memorable when the field days started to blend together. At each event, there was at least one volunteer who remarked, “I can’t believe this is your day job.”
This statement never fails to inspire me. It’s a welcome reminder during a hot and buggy field season that it’s an incredible privilege to work outdoors, surrounded by beautiful nature, doing exciting and valuable work. Similarly, I’m inspired by how many people choose to spend their days off or even take vacation days to volunteer in the beautiful, buggy heat.
We’ve had volunteers who incorporated events into their Ontario summer road trips. Another volunteer brought friends and family to an event as part of his birthday celebration. And in 2017, we had two volunteers who attended eight Ontario Conservation Volunteers events each! This year, we’ve already had 12 people attend multiple events in 2018; there’s no denying that some volunteers get hooked!
Our Conservation Volunteers are incredibly generous with their time, and we wanted to learn more about what motivates them. After each event, we seek feedback from participants to find out how we can improve our events, and to get a glimpse of what keeps bringing them out in the field, rain or shine.
Read some of their responses below:
“What motivated me was the opportunity to get my hands dirty and to experience the flora and fauna of the beautiful sites NCC is conserving and restoring.” ~Susanne Williams
“Volunteering with NCC was a such rewarding experience and a lot of fun! It's a great way to be able to contribute to the protection and prosperity of an area. You learn a lot, you're outdoors and you're active. What more could you want from a volunteer experience?” ~Joshua Wood
“I feel these volunteer experiences satisfying on many levels. I feel we are really making a difference within these beautiful protected spaces, and I always learn a great deal, meet with like-minded wonderful people and enjoy the outdoors, usually ending with a lovely guided hike.” ~Lynne Chiandet
“It is always interesting to see a new NCC site, learn its unique features, do some work to protect its uniqueness, and then have a site tour afterwards. Exploring, learning and 'giving back' ― a CV day provides opportunity for all three! There is no such thing as a bad day volunteering for NCC.” ~Cathy Rand
These quotes help explain the warm fuzzy feeling our staff get after each event. NCC staff end the event inspired by the volunteers’ enthusiasm and generosity in helping us complete tasks that are too big for us to handle alone. In turn, the volunteers leave feeling inspired by a day spent outdoors, learning about nature and meeting other people who care as much as they do. And just like that, I forget the mosquitoes, mud or hot weather, and I’m just left with the memory of the day’s accomplishments and the wonderful people who made it possible.
Read more about NCC’s upcoming Conservation Volunteers events at conservationvolunteers.ca.