Wendy Calvert (Photo by NCC)

Wendy Calvert (Photo by NCC)

Wendy Calvert

A lifetime outside

When you choose to dedicate your entire life’s research to camping in the Arctic and watching polar bears, fostering a passion for the outdoors is a requirement.

For Wendy Calvert, a long-time supporter and volunteer for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), her interest in the outdoors was piqued at an early age. Wendy grew up with her grandparents, who got her interested in the outside and in all forms of outdoor activities, including winter kayaking.

This love for the environment stuck with her throughout her upbringing, fueling her through a science degree and into her life-long research into wildlife and the environment.

Throughout her lifetime, she’s experienced an overall increase in people’s interest in the environment and nature, but still comes across a lot of people who have been “divorced” from the outdoors.

She’s heard people on the radio in Edmonton say they’ve never seen a red-winged blackbird, despite the fact that this species of bird is very common and its call is easy to recognize. “That information should be available to everyone,” says Wendy.

Wendy explains that it’s common for people to take for granted the things they have available in the city. Hot showers are a good example of this; anyone who’s spent an extended time outdoors knows that having access to this is a luxury.

Most of the people Wendy meets at NCC Conservation Volunteers (CV) events have a similar background, but there are others who been brought by their families and clearly haven’t spent much time outside. “I know people who don’t even know what the stars look like,” she says.

She recalls a time when Elk Island used to let fair grounds in, but she says she's happy that this decision was reversed a few years ago. She points out that the park has become an accessible retreat for people trying to get out of the city on a weekend and reconnect with the outdoors. “Once people have been outside in nature they become much more interested in saving it.”

Wendy attends as many CV events as she can around Edmonton. So far this year she has attended back-to-back events in the spring at NCC’s Kallal property for a bird banding outing and at Bunchberry Meadows for an amphibian survey.

“I really like being outside,” she says. “That’s why I like to help NCC in any way that I can.”

Her greatest takeaway from the CV events over the years has been learning the importance of being proactive in conservation as cities continue to expand so rapidly.

“We need to help protect what’s left,” she says.

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