Flowers on Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt)

Flowers on Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt)

Gus Yaki, Grasslands LIC Tour 2013, AB (Photo by NCC)

Gus Yaki, Grasslands LIC Tour 2013, AB (Photo by NCC)

Gustave Yaki

A lifelong naturalist, Gus Yaki’s knowledge, energy and dedication have inspired countless Albertans, Canadians and individuals around the world.

Born and raised in Sandwith, Saskatchewan, Gus attributes his love of nature to the three-mile walks to and from school as a child. Inspired by a bird guide given to him by one of his first teachers, Gus would pore his way through this book to find descriptions matching the birds he saw on his commutes.

Before moving to Calgary, Alberta, in 1993, Gus helped found the Niagara Nature Club in 1966, helped in the creation of the Bruce Trail and was involved in amateur natural history and conservation endeavours. He also sat on the Board of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists when the decision was made to create a separate entity concerned with land conservation, which would later become known as the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).

In 1972, Gus started his own nature tour company, “Nature Travel Services,” which led tours across Canada and around the world, exploring places such as Antarctica and the Svalbard Islands. In 1991, he sold Nature Travel Services but remained a professional tour leader until 2003.

Today, Gus can be found leading curious minds on Nature Calgary field trips. He has taught hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals how to better observe the nature in their own backyards. Known for his inexhaustible knowledge and infamous one-liners, Gus’ passion for birding and love for nature is something he still strives to share.

Since 1993, Gus has been making the most of Calgary’s boreal, prairie, foothills, alpine and aspen parkland regions, as he says they make for the most ideal bird watching. Gus has written a number of articles and continues to lead a number of birding and botanist events throughout the year, encouraging participants to give back to a number of environmental causes, including NCC.

As members of NCC’s Leaders in Conservation (LIC) and Conservation Volunteers programs, Gus and his partner, Aileen, serve as outstanding ambassadors and supporters of NCC. Not only are they active and committed LIC members, both have become true leaders through the nature walks and birding events that have helped to raise awareness and funding for NCC.

Gus serves as an inspiration to the members of NCC’s Alberta Region with his boundless knowledge and ability to truly engage, connect and teach almost everyone he meets.

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