Grasslands near Douglas Lake Ranch, BC (Photo by Chris Harris, Getty Images)

Grasslands near Douglas Lake Ranch, BC (Photo by Chris Harris, Getty Images)

Nathalie Pratte (Photo by Mark Tomalty)

Nathalie Pratte (Photo by Mark Tomalty)

Nathalie Pratte

Nathalie Pratte leverages personal experiences to connect donors to NCC

Nathalie Pratte was just three years old the first time she dipped her lure into the waters of Papineau Lake in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains. That moment, shared with her father, started a lifelong family tradition. Over many years since, Nathalie has returned regularly to the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) historic Kenauk property, between Montreal and Ottawa, first with her parents and later with her sons, to rest, recharge and, of course, fish.

Those decades of memories were top of mind in 2013 when Nathalie, then chair of NCC’s Board of Directors, and her Board colleagues paved the way for the first purchase of what would become 15,000-acres (6,000 hectares) of protected NCC land, including Papineau Lake.

“When Kenauk first came up for sale, my family and I were devastated. We thought our family tradition would disappear,” she remembers.

NCC’s purchase and subsequent conservation efforts ensured that that didn’t happen. Working closely with the surrounding landowners, NCC took steps to protect the region’s precious lakes, wetlands and forests, which are home to countless plants and animals, including eastern grey wolf. This included maintaining the property as an important vacation and recreation destination for thousands of families just like the Prattes.

“The Kenauk project symbolizes everything that endears me to NCC: a scientific, community-based approach to conserve not just species and habitat, but also family traditions and access to an area that has been a part of families’ lives for generations,” Nathalie explains. “It makes it very difficult to not be involved.”

Nathalie is one of NCC’s longest-serving volunteers, having joined the Quebec Board of Directors in 2007. She later served as a seven-year member of the charity’s national board, including a two-year term as chair. After winding down Groupe-Conseil Envirostratégies Inc., the environmental consulting group she founded as a forestry engineer in 1995, she committed to helping NCC raise $750 million as a member of the Landmark Campaign cabinet. In that role, she regularly finds herself collecting stories much like her own.

“From the annual Christmas tree cutting to summers at the cottage, every family has a tradition that includes nature. When you remind people of that connection, of how important nature is to their lives, right away you can connect them to NCC. They understand our mission more.”

"Every family has a tradition that includes nature. When you remind people of that connection, you can connect them to NCC."

“It’s that inspiration, that connection, that will help move NCC forward,” she says.

As for Nathalie’s personal inspiration, she continues to find it with her family at Papineau Lake.

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