"I’m the volunteer leader of the Victoria Chapter of the Young Naturalists’ Club of British Columbia. The YNC is a group for children and their families, ages 5 through 12. It’s an almost entirely volunteer-run not-for-profit organization that tries to connect children to nature and give them opportunities to learn and be outdoors and have fun. There are over 30 clubs in communities throughout British Columbia.
Today we’ve been at Island View Beach learning about different animals and plants in the intertidal zone, learning about how to treat them properly, learning about the diversity of different creatures that live here. And then we were making beach art with sculpture artist, Samantha Dickie.
I feel like this work is one of the most important things that we can do for the earth and for our children: To connect them to nature. If you give them a sense of why this is special, it helps them to feel confident and good about themselves and it’s also the way that we can make sure that we have strong stewardship and strong values towards protecting what we have and maybe solving some of the problems that we’ve created.
I've lived in on the coast in Victoria for almost ten years. I grew up in Connecticut and I went to the beach on the East Coast, mostly just in the summer - I lived about an hour away from the beach. Here in Victoria, I feel calm when I’m by the ocean, and it helps me to focus and feel relaxed when I walk along the beach. I just love to see the life and the amazing diversity of animals and seaweeds that live along our coast. I'm a biologist so I just love learning about being a naturalist and learning about whatever lives where I live - I’ve lived all over North America and Latin America and I just love to connect with wherever I am.
I always loved biology but I used to think I wanted to be a doctor because that's all I knew about science. And when I was trying to decide what to study in university - I was actually at the beach in New England that day - I realized that what I really loved was studying ecology. While I was at that beach I realized that in fact I wanted to be a marine biologist - and then I totally changed course, changed all the courses that I was taking. I got a job working on seals at an aquarium, understanding their behavior, and then went on to become a biologist.
I've always done two things in my jobs and volunteering: One is the science part of things, whether research or field work - I've worked on birds and insects and all different animals and plants. And then the other part is sharing it with the public, often as a volunteer but also in jobs working as a naturalist in nature centers all over - in Florida and Arizona and Connecticut and now in Victoria. I feel like it's fun - it’s great to see the enthusiasm and curiosity of kids - but now that I had kids of my own, I understand and connect more with that and understand how important it is for them to have these experiences."