Nature nourishes our hearts and minds, allowing us to explore and to recharge. Our natural spaces filter our air, purify our water and help mitigate the effects of climate change. Saskatchewan’s rich natural diversity make NCC’s work crucial.
Thanks to our donors, in Saskatchewan NCC has helped to conserve over 198,219 hectares (489,810 acres) of ecologically significant land and water through land donations, purchases and conservation agreements. Thanks to you, important land and habitat for wildlife, including species at risk, are conserved for the long-term.
Here’s a spotlight on some of our donors. Their support helps ensure that future generations will have the same opportunity to enjoy our natural landscapes and the species they sustain.
When Ann Phillips joined NCC’s Saskatchewan Regional Board, she knew it wasn’t enough to give of her time and expertise.
It was 2008 and Ann was already recognized as a force in the local arts community. A lawyer, she often used her training to help arts organizations build a solid foundation for growth. She wanted to do the same for NCC. “But I also said to myself, ‘You should put your money where your mouth is,’” she remembers.
So, Ann and her husband, Roger, the former CEO of Regina steel company IPSCO Inc., made annual donations at NCC’s Leaders in Conservation giving level to support conservation priorities in Saskatchewan. And their generosity didn’t stop with Ann’s retirement from the board in 2015. Shortly after Roger’s passing in 2013, Ann began making a series of major gifts to NCC through the Ann & Roger Phillips Foundation. She was inspired to give after another local donor offered to match any new donations on Giving Tuesday. “I’m a big proponent of leverage,” Ann says. Last year, she made her biggest contribution yet, steadily increasing amounts to the Landmark Campaign that will total $150,000.
While her campaign pledge can be used to supportany project within Saskatchewan, Ann hopes that it will help steward some of her favourite NCC properties, including Fairy Hill, an expanse of native grasslands, woodlands, river and flood plains just 20 minutes north of Regina, and the Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area, home to NCC’s herd of plains bison. She also likes that NCC is science-based and strategic.
“They consistently have a coherent plan for what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it.”
“With a country as big and beautiful as ours, it’s important that we take steps to properly look after it,” she says.
Growing up on the prairies in Manitoba and often visiting a relative’s farm, Gladys Murphy developed a passion for nature. One of her favourite birds is the stunning red-headed woodpecker, as they are fun to watch and were always around when she was growing up. Her love for birds continues and she recently built bluebird nest boxes and is excited to see tons of bluebirds every summer.
Gladys met her husband, Fergus, at the University of Manitoba College of Medicine. After graduating, he moved to practise medicine in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. When he was offered the job, he asked if they would have a position for his fiancé, Gladys, as she would finish her schooling in a year. Gladys then joined Fergus in Humboldt to practise medicine too. In 1960, they moved and purchased a beautiful piece of land near Saskatoon.
Gladys reached out to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) because she wanted to conserve their piece of land — known as Strawberry Hills — for the long term with a conservation agreement. A conservation agreement is a contract between a landowner and conservation organization — in this case NCC. The landowner agrees to limit some uses of the piece of land to protect its natural features and the species that live there. In return, the landowner is paid for placing the agreement on their land. NCC monitors the land to ensure the agreement is respected.
The main benefit of a conservation agreement with NCC, Gladys felt, is that she and her family can continue to own and use their land. They love to hike and go bike riding among the grasslands. “It’s sad to see natural spaces lost to development,” she says. “I think it is important to look after our natural areas that benefit us, and the plants and animals too.”
Gladys’s Strawberry Hills property is located near the eastern limits of Saskatoon. The property consists of 85 hectares (210 acres) of native grasslands, woodlands and wetlands. The diverse habitats on the property feature a variety of mammals and grassland birds. Many species at risk can also be found in the area, including Crawe’s sedge, five-foliated cinquefoil, northern leopard frog, Sprague’s pipit and loggerhead shrike. Thanks to Gladys and NCC, this area will be conserved for the long term. To learn more about protecting grasslands, visit conservegrasslands.ca.
Cheryl Cho’s introduction to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) took place on her own doorstep when her family made a land contribution, but her love for nature was born long before that. She’s an avid fan of camping and hiking and tries to get in touch with nature as often as possible, whether through biking around the city, canoeing in the summer or skiing in the winter. Cheryl is a researcher with the University of Saskatchewan’s Department of Plant Sciences. She has been a Leader In Conservation with NCC for over five years.
So how did Cheryl’s love and connection for the environment begin? “Growing up, I wouldn’t say I was a big nature nut, not compared to my children now,” says Cheryl. “I enjoyed being outdoors, visiting the family farm and that kind of thing. Camping was big when I was a kid. We went all over Saskatchewan, where there are so many good spots to camp.”
Cheryl believes it’s important to support an organization like the Nature Conservancy of Canada. “I think about our kids and future generations, and what they’re going to experience of the world,” says Cheryl. “I think it’s important to make sure that they’re able to get their nature fix and keep land protected for the long term for them. There is a lot of negativity out there that you have to navigate, with daunting numbers being thrown at the public about habitat loss and climate change, and seeing it through kids’ eyes gives a good perspective of why we need to continue what we’re doing.”
What does Cheryl think sets NCC apart from other conservation organizations? “NCC has a good track record of managing donor contributions, and the staff are very passionate and engaging. Those are two big features that I look for in a charity.”
One of Cheryl’s favourite NCC memories was the campout at Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area. “There was a meteor shower and we had a clear night to see it with the telescope set up there,” she says. “Being able to do real, tangible work that I felt contributed to something and being there as a family was great.” Old Man on His Back is a Nature Destination at NCC. For more information, visit naturedestinations.ca. To learn more about what NCC is doing to protect native grasslands, such as the ones found at Old Man on His Back, visit conservegrasslands.ca.
Leslie Ann Chandler
In honour of his wife’s passion for nature, Keenan Seattle donated funds from her estate to a conservation project in their home province.
Leslie Ann Chandler was born in Saskatchewan and grew up on a farm near Southey, Saskatchewan, where she loved to explore beautiful prairie landscapes and connect with nature. She married Keenan Seattle in 1980, at Southey Lutheran Church.
Leslie Ann obtained her teaching certificate when she was 20 and graduated with distinction from the University of Regina. She received her master’s degree from the University of British Columbia. Leslie Ann cherished being a teacher and taught Grades 2, 3 and 4 for 38 years. She adored her students and loved to share her appreciation for wildlife with them.
Leslie Ann especially loved cats, and the couple provided shelter for many years, caring for over 30 injured and abandoned cats. She was also a director for the Animal and Earth Guardians Inc., formerly Cousins Conservancy Inc. The couple has donated to many charities to help protect animals and nature. Leslie Ann became ill in 2017 and lost her battle with cancer in July 2018.
Keenan and Leslie Ann’s donation to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) will help conserve endangered grasslands near Buffalo Pound Lake. The conservation project, located 40 kilometres from Moose Jaw, consists of native grasslands that help filter the drinking water for approximately one-quarter of the province’s population. The area is also home to wildlife listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act, such as Sprague’s pipit, bobolink, American badger and northern leopard frog. To learn more, visit conservegrasslands.ca.
"I want to not only conserve and preserve a piece of our prairie, but, more importantly, I want future generations to have the opportunity to experience the sheer joy that I experienced as a child. I want them to be able to walk through grasslands and be able to actually experience a range of species — not just see them in museums, books, documentaries or online." - Sharon Downs, NCC donor
"Native grasslands in Saskatchewan are so important to me because they appeal to my head and to my heart. My head knows that they are rich in biodiversity and amazingly resilient. They provide vital ecological services, and they are an essential part of our rural economy and heritage. But my heart sings when my feet are planted on that ancient ground and the wind carries the call of Sprague's pipit and meadowlark. I roamed the grassland hills as a child, left that all behind for many years, and returned only to discover that my heart and soul are intimately bound to these places. The Nature Conservancy of Canada provides an opportunity for me to put my money where my heart is, and help to conserve these places where my heart sings." - Joan Feather, NCC donor