I arrived on the shores of Manitoba’s Delta Marsh in 1988. Behind the wheel of my ’67 Ford Falcon, I rolled up to the research station with my newly minted bachelor of science degree and all the bright-eye exuberance of a student about to get her first crack at a real-world research gig.
I had been hired to work on a comprehensive 10-year study on the ecology of prairie wetlands. My tasks over the next four months included early morning bird counts, collecting aquatic invertebrates and sampling aquatic vegetation.
It was my first experience in a marsh. I quickly learned how to walk in boot-sucking mud. I marveled at the diversity of life all around me. And I discovered that the best place to watch a sunrise is from the bow of a canoe.
There was a crew of about six or seven students like me. After our daily duties were done, we would sit in the screened-in porch of the historic hunting lodge where we lived to debate all things related to wetlands and waterfowl.
By the end of that summer, I was hooked.
Fast forward through several years of studying and work at other wetland and waterfowl research sites across the Canadian Prairies and by 2001, I had completed both my master’s and PhD degrees in biology at the University of Saskatchewan.
Thanks to the expert tutelage of some of North America’s finest conservation scientists, including the legendary Dr. Bob Clark, the education and training I received brought me to where I am now: a career with DUC that spans 22 years — and the humbling position of CEO.
A bright future for science eduation
Today, I’m heartened to know that more students will have similar opportunities to pursue their passion thanks to the newly established DUC Endowed Chair in Wetland and Waterfowl Conservation at my alma mater, the University of Saskatchewan. The students it supports will make discoveries about our land, water and wildlife that have the potential to change the world. Their ideas will influence the relationships Canadians have with nature, and their research will help address the most pressing environmental challenges of our time.
Proof of this potential was on full display at the recent North American Duck Symposium, an event co-hosted by DUC. Among the crowd of 300 leading waterfowl professionals from around the world, it was the students who stood out. Listening to them present their research projects on topics ranging from ecology to biogenetics, to migration, population dynamics and the impacts of climate change was inspiring. They shared their experiences with an enthusiasm that felt familiar.
These students, and those who will be guided by our new endowed chair, are what take me back to my days in the field. They bring back memories of my days on campus at the University of Saskatchewan and they remind me of the simple reason we all choose to make conservation part of our lives: the desire to make a difference.
It’s clear Canada’s young conservation scientists hold the keys to the future. Now, just imagine the places they’ll go.
Support DUC's Endowed Chair in Wetland and Waterfowl Conservation
Your donation will help future students pursue their passion for conservation.Donate Now