Conservation Volunteers – The Nature Conservancy of Canada
The seven #NatureForAll strategies offer solutions to a worldwide problem of disconnection from nature. They have been developed based on recommendations received from the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress and the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress, and advice from #NatureForAll partners worldwide. They will continue to evolve over time. Not every strategy may be applicable in every situation, so our partners choose the one(s) that work best in their local context.
With more people living in cities than ever before, and with changes in technology and the pace of life, Canadians are spending less time in and becoming increasingly disconnected from nature. Through the Nature Conservancy of Canada's Conservation Volunteers program, our lands provide touchstones to nature and our heritage. They are important spaces for education and skill-building, health and wellness, and developing social capital and communities. Our goal is to design volunteer events that ensure high conservation impact, while also providing opportunities for hands-on education and personal connection with the natural environment.
What Strategies Contributed to your Success?
Strategy 2: Find and Share the Fun in Nature
Volunteers team up with the Nature Conservancy of Canada's experts to complete important tasks on the Nature Conservancy of Canada's Conservation Volunteers conservation lands, such as planting trees, and other native plants, caring for nature trails and visitor infrastructure, and identifying and counting species such as butterflies, dragonflies and waterfowl and removing invasive species. During our day-long events, volunteers have the opportunity to build new friendships with those who live near and far in nature, while reconnecting with the natural world.
Strategy 4: Embrace Technology
Technology and nature aren’t as separate as they seem. At the Nature Conservancy of Canada, advances in technology allow us to effectively accomplish our conservation goals on the ground, but also open the door for engaging the public as citizen scientists. Equipped with smart phones and tablets, our Conservation Volunteers are helping us gain a better understanding of local biodiversity by tracking species observations on our conservation sites through apps such as iNaturalist and eBird. The data can then be analyzed to provide better insights about the diversity at different sites and how wildlife use various habitats. The Marine Debris Tracker app has also been used to track and categorize the types of debris collected during shoreline clean-ups, providing us with clear data on some of the threats to biodiversity as well.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada's Conservation Volunteers program is working to bridge the technology gap to get people back into nature and contribute to priority stewardship actions. The Nature Conservancy of Canada's Conservation Volunteers website brings a suite of national event based opportunities to Canadians, while encouraging people to connect to nature through the sharing of crowd sourced images and blogs celebrating first-hand accounts of volunteering for nature.
Strategy 6: Seek out Diverse Partnerships
The power of partnerships is key to the success of our volunteer program. Through the Nature Conservancy of Canada surveys, it was found that approximately 10% of volunteers reported hearing about the volunteer program through partner organizations. The Nature Conservancy of Canada's Conservation Volunteers program has run events in partnership with local land trusts, field naturalist clubs, academic institutions, natural history museums as well as corporations.
The success of the Conservation Volunteers program is directly linked to the work of our volunteers. We rely on volunteers to help collect important data for research and conservation and provide the labour to complete much-needed stewardship projects.
Over the past 10 years, the program has grown from 500 volunteers annually to nearly 3,000 people joining events across the country every year,
Thanks to the support of our volunteers, they allow us to be more cost effective by providing nearly $1,000,000 of in-kind support annually,
Last year, over 200 volunteers events, engaging close to 2,750 Canadians, contributed close to 13, 200 hours of actions dedicated to nature.
Include value-added activities to your events, such as expert speakers or property tours
Send follow up emails after the event thanking volunteers for their time and to complete a survey for feedback on their experience
Create a social experience for volunteers to connect with other volunteers and staff
Provide volunteer recognition opportunities to show volunteers that their work is appreciated
Promote your events as far in advance as possible on all social media platforms