How conservationists spend their holidays
Staff at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) come from all corners of the country and love to spend time in nature. Not only are we passionate about protecting nature, several of us think the best way to celebrate the holiday season is to be knee deep in snow or laced up in a pair of skates.
Read about how NCC staff are celebrating the holidays in nature, below:
“Our family is very new to hockey and we’re fortunate to have an outdoor rink nestled among the trees in a park a couple of blocks from our house. There’s something magical about holiday days, crunching across the snow in the fresh, cold air, stepping out onto the ice and losing yourself in the game with your family. Win or lose, outdoor hockey generates big smiles and a lot of rosy cheeks.”
— Kathryn Folkl, director, North American partnerships, National office
“I temporarily rack my skis and escape to the sun and beach to be with family in Florida.
My morning routine begins with strapping my camera around my neck and heading to the Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach.
Wakodahatchee is a Miccosukee word meaning “created waters.” In its previous lives, the property was farmland and a repository for sewage sludge. There is now a nice boardwalk running through the nature preserve and a great place to see a variety of birds, many of them nesting and camouflaged to avoid the crocodiles and large iguanas that share their habitat.
I return at dusk, sometimes heading to a larger nature preserve called Green Cay. Depending on the day, I can convince the kids to join me!”
— Gail Grief, senior development officer, Quebec Region
“We have a tradition with our friends to hunt for our holiday tree together. We convoy to the perfect spot in Kananaskis Country, hike through the snowy forest in search of the perfect tree — not too tall, not too short, not too sparse. When we find the perfect one, we gather round and we each thank the tree for growing and being part of our family tradition before we cut it down and bring it home. Once all of the families have found their tree, we meet for an outdoor winter potluck picnic and fire. It’s the perfect way to kick off the festive season in nature!”
— Keltie Manolakas, manager of engagement, Alberta Region
“My favourite place to spend the holidays is outdoors. I come from a big, very loud family and often crave the silence nature provides me as I step away from the holiday table and into a forest. Some of my favourite holiday memories are of the one-on-one times I spent with my grandpa during our post-feast walks. Just between the two of us, he would share stories about our Mohawk culture and how he used to celebrate the holidays with his community. Like me, he often sought the quiet spaces in life and retreated to nature whenever he could. I was glad to be able to steal him away for a walk in the neighbouring forest by my house and listen to him talk about all the wonders Mother Earth provides us with.”
— Raechel Bonomo, staff writer and content creator, National office
“Although I don’t like winter at all, I force myself to get outside on a regular basis to feel the wind on my cheeks and listen to the silence. Whether it’s cross-country skiing, running or simply walking, being outside lets me feel free and in harmony with nature.“
— Miheala Machiodache, development coordinator, Quebec Region
“After indulging in a day-long event of eating sweets and comfort food, our family will typically take the next day to get out and play in the snow!”
— Brynn Bellingham, development officer – grant programs, Alberta Region
“We often celebrate the New Year at Sutton. We like to go sledding on the mountain with our grandchildren. However what I most appreciate is hiking on the trails, while enjoying the snowy landscape, and hearing the songs of birds and the “toc-toc” sound of woodpeckers.”
— Lise Loyer, administrative assistant, Quebec Region
“The last few days of each year are the ones I look forward to most. That’s because I spend them with some of my best friends — friends I’ve had since high school. Several years ago, we found ourselves skating on the frozen, black ice of Meech Lake in Gatineau Park, Quebec. It was a cold, clear day and the sun shone low in the sky.”
— Paul Hewer, manager, government relations, National office
“The time when I feel most connected with nature is while snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in big fields and forested trails. I meditate to the sound of snow crunching under my feet and I think about the animals hibernating under this coat of ice.”
— Milaine Saumur, project coordinator, Quebec Region
“Whether its snowshoeing, snowboarding or winter hiking, I spend as much time outdoors as the winter weather allows. The holidays have always included outdoor activities for my family, and it’s a tradition I really appreciate. We are fortunate in Alberta to have a lot of places to enjoy and explore, and the holidays are a great time to take a break and enjoy nature.”
— Katelyn Ceh, acting manager of conservation, Parkland and Grassland, Alberta Region