My first de-fencing lesson
As a self-proclaimed explorer, I believe that Canada’s biggest charm lies in its beautiful landscapes and vibrant natural expanses. Just two weeks after moving to Calgary from Mumbai, India, I was looking online for a way to experience the outdoors and stumbled across the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) website. I found out that NCC’s Alberta Region had a Conservation Volunteers event planned called the “In De-fence of the Waldron,” where I could satisfy my exploration itch while also doing something meaningful. If the witty title wasn’t enough to convince me, there was a clear outline about what the day entailed and the option to carpool.
On the day of the event, I left my house before sunrise to carpool south to the meeting point. The drive to the Waldron property was filled with countless magnificent sites, each suitable for a screensaver. Being out of the city, with the Rocky Mountains in view for our whole journey, I could finally comprehend the beauty of Alberta.
We reached our destination and saw the eye-catching, green NCC van approach. Soon, there were 19 energetic Conservation Volunteers in a circle, sharing smiles, introductions, and snacks courtesy of NCC. After a short briefing, we all hopped into our respective vehicles and came across the most unlikely of road companions: a herd of cows in the middle of the road. Fascinated eyes peered at each other through the windows. The cows were either interested in the pretty pictures on the NCC vehicles or the chirpy staff inside, and they didn’t let us pass, so NCC staff had to send for help. While we waited for the rescue operation, the Waldron Ranch manager explained what work we’d be doing.
Our work for the day was part of a larger mission to protect endangered cut-throat trout, which live in a secluded part of the stream that flows through Sharples Creek. We were at the Waldron property to remove an old barbed-wire fence that would then be strategically replaced with a more effective electric fence to isolate that section of the stream. The ranch manager also informed us about the science and research underway at Waldron.
Now empowered with the background of our mission, we picked up our equipment, split into smaller groups and attacked the fence. The day flew by. The volunteers and NCC staff happily chatted and got to know each other. Before we knew it, we had reached the end of the fence. Soon there were stacks of rolled up barbed wire. After a tasty lunch under the shade of the forest and some more stacking and rolling, we were done.
We got back to the area where we had parked our vehicles, and each group animatedly shared their experiences and accomplishments. The volunteers appreciated the hard work and organizational skills of the all-female NCC staff who organized the event. Their efforts had made the day productive and fun. It felt like we had to say goodbye too soon, but I am sure many of us will meet again at a future Conservation Volunteers event.
As we drove back to Calgary, I pondered on the day gone by. From the new friends I made and the exquisite landscapes, I learned what Canada is all about: wonderful outdoors, warm people and exciting adventures.