Volunteerism is alive and well at The Couchiching Conservancy. We will be doing a ‘spotlight’ on a number of volunteers this year to show off their passion for protecting nature and the types of jobs they do.
As the new Volunteer Co-ordinator with The Couchiching Conservancy, I have spent the past month meeting with new and seasoned volunteers. I recently had the pleasure of hiking through Grant’s Woods with Alan Smale as we discussed nature, the land and the importance of volunteerism.
Alan has been a volunteer with The Couchiching Conservancy for over 15 years. He is the Property Team Leader of the team that helps The Conservancy manage the Helen M. Butler Reserve near Sparrow Lake. In this role, Alan and a team of volunteers monitor the property and report any problems to the Stewardship Program Manager.
This past winter, he volunteered 14 hours to help David Hawke and a team of volunteers complete a controlled burning at Bluebird Ranch to clear small trees and brush. When this work is complete, it will enhance the grassland habitat for nesting birds including bobolinks and meadowlarks.
How did you first get involved with The Couchiching Conservancy?
Ron Reid, the past Executive Director of The Couchiching Conservancy and current Carden Program Co-ordinator, made a presentation to our Lions Club more than 15 years ago. His enthusiasm was contagious. The first volunteer job I was involved with was supplying busing for various events that Ron organized. After that, it evolved into property team management.
What drew you to the Bluebird Ranch project?
The timing was right and a work project in the winter was different. I enjoyed getting out with a group to improve the habitat-the cold didn’t scare me. The extra snow allowed us to carry on with the project longer than expected.
What is your best memory of volunteering at Bluebird Ranch?
Working with Dave Hawke was both enjoyable and educational. He has a vast amount of knowledge and is happy to pass along information.
I know there were over a dozen volunteers that worked on the Bluebird Ranch project. Can you tell me about some of the volunteers you met?
Everyone worked very hard on the project. I met an old friend Paul Laver and also worked with Gayle, Lisa and a new acquaintance, Javier. It is nice to see new people get involved with the volunteer program.
The Couchiching Conservancy has been preserving, protecting, restoring and improving the natural environment of the Couchiching-Severn region since 1993. What do you wish other people knew about our organization?
The Conservancy gives people an opportunity to enjoy nature and the outdoors in natural settings not normally available to the general public. Hopefully, once they understand what is possible, they will become involved either as volunteers or contributors.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering for The Couchiching Conservancy?
I highly recommend volunteering, especially with such a fabulous organization. You soon realize that for everyone involved with The Conservancy, it is not a job, it is a passion. Staff and volunteers have made a huge commitment to the environment for all the right reasons. This commitment is contagious.
Thanks to Alan for being our first ‘Volunteer Spotlight’!
Written by Trudy O’Donnell. If you are interested in receiving information about volunteering with The Couchiching Conservancy, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.