View of the mountains from Bloomin' Inn, Pincher Creek (Photo by NCC)

View of the mountains from Bloomin' Inn, Pincher Creek (Photo by NCC)

Volunteer to intern

One woman’s experience
Leta Pezderic and Lindsey Ledene (Photo by NCC)

Leta Pezderic and Lindsey Ledene (Photo by NCC)

Lindsey Ledene is the 2019 conservation intern working for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in southcentral Alberta in the prairie grasslands conservation region. She is currently enrolled in her last year of the ecosystem management applied degree program, and she has an avid interest in this conservation topic.

I have a long history with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), and it all started with a wedding. My cousin married into the family of Ernie Kuyt, who was an avid NCC supporter.

Ernie was a wildlife biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service, working with whooping cranes in Wood Buffalo National Park. As a child, I would go to Edmonton to visit the family, and Ernie would always take the time to teach me about wildlife, especially whooping cranes. My father also lived and worked in the Amazon jungle for a few years, so the importance of wildlife and biodiversity has always been a part of my life. 

After Ernie passed away, our family donated money to NCC in his memory.

After graduating with my diploma in renewable research management at Lethbridge College, I spent my summer volunteering with NCC through their Conservation Volunteers (CV) program. With CV, I did a variety of conservation work, from mapping out where invasive weeds were growing, to monitoring fences, and to participating in weed-pulling events.

I am now employed with NCC as an intern, and this summer has been spent alongside my boss and mentor Leta Pezderic, where we have been monitoring properties across southern Alberta. I’ve worked on properties from the Milk River Ridge area all the way to Waterton National Park.

Leta’s passion and enthusiasm for conservation is completely contagious. I feel so humbled to get to spend my days out in the wide-open grasslands, working to conserve habitat for species that depend on this harsh yet beautiful landscape.

Short honed lizard at Sage-grouse property (Photo by Lindsey Ledene)

Short honed lizard at Sage-grouse property (Photo by Lindsey Ledene)

Most people don’t realize that the grasslands are one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. They contain wide open prairies, wetlands, lakes and valleys. Grasslands are critical for allowing water to infiltrate the ground, and are important for carbon storage, as the grasses and their large root systems store lots of carbon.

During my time this summer I have learned to identify over 30 different species of plants and birds. I have been very fortunate to have encountered a wide variety of wildlife while working on the lands that NCC protects.

Some of the fauna I’ve seen include the threatened ferruginous hawk with their young, the elusive and endangered short-horned lizard and northern leopard frog. I am very grateful for this internship and being included in this remarkable community that realizes how important conservation truly is.

I believe wholeheartedly in NCC’s vision of creating a world where we can conserve nature in all its diversity. The waterways and land are crucial in sustaining not only wildlife and plants, but human life itself. NCC truly does lead and inspire others to try their best, even in people’s daily routines, as the smallest acts can have a huge impact. 

­­The Conservation Internship Program is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Summer Work Experience program.

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