An Internship Turns into 20 Years with NCC

Denise Roy, NB Conservation Representative

Denise Roy, NB Conservation Representative

If you have a question about shorebird migration, chances are Denise Roy has the answer. Denise, a NCC conservation representative in New Brunswick, started her role as an intern with the Nature Conservancy of Canada in 2001. From managing the Johnson’s Mills Interpretive Centre, to land negotiations with landowners and lawyers, Denise has played an integral role in supporting many conservation projects. NCC is grateful for Denise’s efforts and looks forward to her continuous success in the years ahead.

Most recently, Denise has turned her attention to the Chignecto Isthmus wildlife corridor. It is critically important to protect land in this area, which connects New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, in order to support wildlife connectivity. To do so, and with the help of the science team, Denise works passionately to protect these important areas, close to home. The science team uses aerial photography and data collection to help Denise identify what species are of priority to be protected in these areas.

Chignecto Isthmus (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

Chignecto Isthmus (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

Denise’s passion for protecting wild places in New Brunswick shows through her enthusiasm and sharp eye. While driving in the area back in June, she spotted a property that was for sale and immediately contacted her colleagues. Days later, she and her sister (with lots of water and long-sleeved shirts on) combatted the heat and mosquitos to visit the property. Denise’s quick decision-making and ambition are helping bring an opportunity forward to help further protect the Chignecto Isthmus, as this property is now being pursued to be added to one of NCC’s most significant projects in the Atlantic region.

Aside from helping establish and expand nature reserves, Denise also plays a leadership role at the Johnson’s Mills Shorebird Reserve and Interpretive Centre. During the internship season, you can find her at a local coffee shop, getting to know the year’s interns over a cup of tea. Denise’s experience from her own days as an intern allows her to provide guidance to the new Johnson’s Mills interns each year. “Supervising the interns is near and dear to my heart because that is how I got my start in conservation,” she reflects. Lots of mentorship and training are involved when working with interns, and Denise’s interesting stories and anecdotes are always great ice-breakers when welcoming them to the NCC team.  

Denise often fields phone calls from community members seeking assistance or having questions and concerns. Whether these concerns are about land donations or wildlife-related matters, some phone calls end up becoming interesting conversation pieces. Very recently, Denise helped a concerned homeowner who was worried about barn swallows being disturbed by other neighbours in her building. Other times, Denise works with generous landowners who wish to donate their property to NCC, ensuring that it can be kept wild and conserved for future generations. Like the Chignecto Isthmus connecting the two provinces, Denise helps connect the community and NCC.

As with many, the pandemic resulted in some shifts in Denise’s work. Although NCC offices across the Atlantic region were closed, Denise continued to work from her home office of 20 years without disruption. While hosting interns during a global pandemic seemed almost too ambitious, with the help of funders and supporters, Denise managed to make the impossible work. Thanks to the help of many, she welcomed eager and skillful interns and supervised them through their term with NCC in 2020.

These interns helped manage the Johnson’s Mills centre, where shorebirds rest after their long journey from the Canadian Arctic to South America. The interns also helped limit disturbances in the area so that the nature reserve was ready for the shorebirds’ arrival.

The observation deck at Johnson's Mills Shorebird Interpretive Centre, NB (Photo by NCC)

The observation deck at Johnson's Mills Shorebird Interpretive Centre, NB (Photo by NCC)

From mentoring interns to land negotiations, Denise shares her knowledge and contagious positive energy with others. Staff meetings brighten up whenever she shares her anecdotes, and the interns gain valuable insights when working under her guidance. Denise’s ambition and positive attitude have opened doors to many opportunities. From connecting with supporters and donors, to bridging the gap between the organization and local communities, the past 20 years have been filled with positive accomplishments. NCC is proud to celebrate Denise and her wonderful achievements. Here’s to more successful years to come.

“It’s been a privilege working with the Nature Conservancy of Canada over the years and playing a small part in the great conservation achievements of the organization.” - Denise Roy


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