2017 field staff training day (Photo by NCC)
Alejandra Guerrero Laverde was the 2019 Conservation Volunteers program assistant for the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Alberta Region. She is currently studying ecology at the University of Calgary. Alejandra is passionate about the environment, conservation and animals.
As one of the Conservation Volunteers interns for the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) Alberta Region, I have had the opportunity to meet staff in all sorts of positions within the organization. Though all NCC staff work toward conserving Canada’s natural areas, all have very different backgrounds and experiences that led them here. These interactions made me wonder about how staff think about conservation and what conservation looks like in their daily life, so I interviewed staff in different positions within NCC to find out.
Conservation is the act of protecting the natural world; however, NCC staff had a more personal take on the definition of conservation. From field technicians to the finance department, the consensus is that conservation is about being passionate, mindful and dedicated stewards of the natural world. This more personal take was reflected in how they live their lives. To my surprise, the way that conservation took shape in their daily lives was quite different.
When asked how conservation shapes his life, Dayce Rhodes, 2019 conservation technician for the southern foothills, said “conservation affects my daily life continuously through my work at NCC, at home on our cattle ranch, during my environmental studies at Lethbridge College, and during my personal time when I’m out hiking, hunting, fishing or simply taking in the species and views.” Whether recreating, working or studying, all aspects of his life are deeply connected to conservation efforts. As a result, Dayce aims to be part of a working landscape through the way he and his family operate their ranch.
For Gayle Roodman, manager of editorial services, and Cara Borbely, finance coordinator, who live in the city and have had transformative experiences in nature, conservation takes a different shape.
“I’ve always given thought to conservation and how my actions affect the planet, but since working at NCC for the last few years, its much more front and centre. I’ve learned about a lot of little things that I can do” says Gayle. One of the ways she shows her commitment to conservation is by riding her bike to work year-round! Spring, summer, fall and winter — she bikes through it all!
Cara supports conservation in a different way. “In my daily life, conservation Is about structuring my decisions with nature in mind.” She composts, buys only what she needs, shops at thrift stores and is mindful of the waste she produces.
Whether implementing changes for conservation on a large scale (on a ranch or through an organization) or through small acts, it all has a big impact on our natural world. To contribute to conservation, you do not have to work in the field, have a certain educational background or have a ton of money. Everyone can participate in the way that best fits their lifestyle.
Kysha Moradel, Alberta Region’s development officer, does not have a science background like many of her colleagues, but she does her best to learn as much as she can to participate in conservation. She has even taken birding classes for the past two years.
Kirsten Betteridge, national engagement coordinator, said it best. “There is no perfect way to live. The most important thing is to make conscious decisions and understand their impact.”
The Conservation Internship Program is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Summer Work Experience program.