Volunteers with blue spruce trees (Photo by NCC)

Volunteers with blue spruce trees (Photo by NCC)

International Volunteer Day

Conservation Volunteers at NCC's Hick's property in Alberta (Photo by NCC)

Conservation Volunteers at NCC's Hick's property in Alberta (Photo by NCC)

December 5 marks International Volunteer Day. Founded by the United Nations in 1985, the day shines a spotlight on the more than one billion volunteers across the world who donate their time to support their communities.

This year’s theme is “Together we can through volunteering” and at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), we know this could not be more true! There is a type of magic in the air when a group of passionate individuals come together to work on a project. Since the Conservation Volunteers program began in Alberta in 2006, more than 5,700 volunteers have gotten their hands dirty in support of conservation in Alberta. In celebration of International Volunteer Day, we are taking a trip down memory lane to remember some of our favourite moments, where a little volunteer magic helped us accomplish big tasks.

Fence-free Ferrier

In summer 2019, 30 eager volunteers hopped on a bus to the NCC Ferrier property with the goal of removing unnecessary fencing on this stunning central Alberta property with beautiful wetlands and grasslands. The eager group disembarked from the bus ready to get to work. In no time, the team had fallen into a rhythm of rolling up barbed wire faster than the NCC trucks could pick it up. By the end of the day, the had group removed over three kilometres of old fence from the property, blowing all expectations out of the water!

Fence clips for days

While we endeavour to remove infrastructure on most properties when possible, some is necessary. In these instances, we work to make infrastructure as wildlife friendly as possible. One such example is the use of fence visibility clips to improve the visibility of fence wires in the grasslands. Improved visibility benefits species such as sage grouse and reduces the chance of collision with the fence. Throughout 2015, 178 volunteers across Alberta helped to make thousands of fence clips. Many of these have been deployed on fences in the grasslands of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Tackling thistle at Clifford E. Lee

For the past 16 years, NCC has partnered with the Lee Nature Society to tackle invasive Canada thistle at the Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary. Every year, volunteers return to the site to pull thistle. Through targeted efforts and many years of hard work and perseverance, sites on the conservation area are almost thistle-free! The battle against invasive species is a long process, and there is still much work to be done. But nothing feels better then taking a look at some of the cleared patches and seeing the hard work of many dedicated volunteers over many years pay off.

Volunteers can move mountains

Throughout the years we have seen that with the help of volunteers, we can move mountains! Whether in a large group, working on their own time or chipping away at a project over many years, the magic of volunteers is undeniable. From barbed-wire fence removals to weed pulls, we simply could not do all that we do without the help of our Conservation Volunteers.

Together we have, together we can and together we will continue to steward Alberta’s most ecologically significant lands and waters. Thank you, volunteers!

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