Shown here fully outfitted for the backcountry, Group 5, better known as The Mountain GOAts, completed a 75-kilometre trek through Kananaskis Country, Alberta, over the course of two weeks last fall. (Photo - Joshua Dewitt)

Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Corps. offers educational adventures

Those interested in applying are encouraged to visit CanadianConservationCorps.ca.

SAMUEL HOFFE

Special to the Westerly

Sea kayaking along Vancouver Island’s verdant coasts, snowshoeing atop frigid summits, scrambling through the Rockies, or dog sledding across vast, frozen lakes are just a few of the adventures that new recruits can expect upon joining The Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Canadian Conservation Corps.

For the past year-and-a-half, the CCC has been hard at work connecting young adults from across the country with Canada’s varied and magnificent wilderness as part of an introduction to a nine-month conservation service journey.

Since last fall, the program has been sending participants to the West Coast for wilderness expeditions and subsequent placements with both Parks Canada and the Ucluelet Aquarium Society, just two of numerous and varied conservation partners from across the country. Supported by the Government of Canada through the Canada Service Corps, the CCC program, aimed at young adults aged 18-30, promises wilderness adventure and survival training followed by hands-on conservation and environmental field learning in conjunction with experts from a variety of conservation organizations across the country. The final stage of this three-part program involves participants designing and delivering their own service/outreach projects in their hometowns to build a better Canada while inspiring others to discover and conserve Canada’s biodiversity.

In partnership with Outward Bound Canada, stage one expeditions have ranged from navigating sea kayaks through Clayoquot Sound to summiting snow capped peaks in the Canadian Appalachians. Past expeditions have also included backpacking through the Rockies and dog sledding in Ontario with new expeditions currently under development for future groups. As described on CanadianConservationCorps.ca, stage one “…will involve introspective activities, physical challenges and time for participants to form great team building skills as well as an understanding and respect for each other’s social and cultural diversity.” During stage two, “…participants will be immersed in exciting hands-on conservation and environmental field learning, labouring alongside experts in a variety of opportunities that may include areas such as: Habitat Creation and Restoration, Wildlife Management and/or Environmental Science, public awareness & environmental education.”

In an email correspondence, Luke Ehler, of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, recounted his West Coast expedition and spoke to the opportunities afforded by the program.

“Coming from the east coast, I was used to the sea. But as our group paddled through the seemingly endless inlets of Clayoquot Sound, I was blown away by the sprawling forested mountains, distant snow-capped peaks, and all the wildlife this rich ecosystem supports.”

“For young Canadians entering this field, the CCC can give you a better idea of what opportunities are out there in conservation and help you gain valuable experience in a field that suits your skills and interests. Whether you’re someone that wants to be out in the field collecting data for research, in the community raising awareness through education, or anything in between—there’s a career in conservation for you.”

Luke’s stage two CCC placement was at the Calgary Zoo last summer. He is now working as an educator at Hope for Wildlife in Nova Scotia.

Sarah Tyne, Resource Management Officer with Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, spoke about the relationship that Parks Canada has formed with the CCC program.

“Each placement of Canadian Conservation Corps volunteers here at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has been wonderfully unique. The volunteers have come from diverse backgrounds across Canada, and they have all enhanced the Parks Canada team with their enthusiasm and creativity. It has been great to watch them develop community and career connections, and inspiring to hear about their plans to use this experience for future conservation initiatives. ”

Speaking about the impetus behind the CCC program, Mike Bingley, Education Director for the Canadian Wildlife Federation said, “The best way to ensure that this generation of young Canadians has a connection with the natural world is to have truly experienced it. Through meaningful service learning, young adults will develop diverse skills while learning about themselves and the impact that they can have on the natural world.”

With a new group of recruits beginning their training near Comox, BC this June, the Canadian Conservation Corps is still recruiting for upcoming adventures beginning in Alberta and New Brunswick this August.

Those interested in applying are encouraged to visit CanadianConservationCorps.ca for more information.

Samuel Hoffe is a participant in Group 7 of the Canadian Conservation Corps. His wilderness journey began in New Brunswick this winter and he has been enjoying his field training in Ucluelet from Mar. 22 – June 14. He will soon be returning to Calgary to plan his own conservation service project.

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