Why I belong to DUC (and so do you) — Ducks Unlimited Canada
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Conservator, Grassroots, IWWR

Why I belong to DUC (and so do you)

Lauren Bortolotti is a DUC research scientist. Here, she shares her personal conservation journey and how she found where she belonged: with us.

June 19, 2020
Lauren Bortolotti during her PhD fieldwork.
Lauren Bortolotti during her PhD fieldwork. © Lauren Bortolotti

Birds from the beginning

I grew up in Saskatoon in an outdoorsy family — we hiked, camped, went bird watching, and spent our summers enjoying the natural beauty of northern Saskatchewan. My parents were active volunteers for environmental non-profit organizations and instilled in me and my brother a love for the outdoors and with it, a strong stewardship ethic.

From a young age, I wanted to be just like my father — an avian biologist — and study birds. I was lucky, through my father’s work, to have many opportunities to get my feet wet. I’d tag along with him on expeditions to study American kestrels in the boreal forest, rappelled down cliffs in southern Saskatchewan to collect nestling golden eagles for banding, and moved to Spain after high school to volunteer at a biological research station.

Photographic evidence of an early interest in wetlands — Lauren at age six.
Photographic evidence of an early interest in wetlands — Lauren at age six. © Lauren Bortolotti

Connecting to ducks

While pursuing my undergraduate degree at the University of Saskatchewan, I worked for Bob Clark on a tree swallow project. A renowned waterfowl research scientist, Clark is a longtime collaborator of DUC’s Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research (IWWR). There are at least eight past and current DU staff who studied with Clark, including DUC’s CEO Karla Guyn. Being part of the Clark team was my introduction to the world of waterfowl conservation…and DUC.

Why join Ducks Unlimited Canada?

  • DUC is a habitat conservation organization. In other words, we get things done. There are tangible, on-the-ground benefits from the habitats we deliver. We operate from coast to coast, restoring lost or degraded wetland habitats and protecting others through purchase and conservation easements.
  • DUC is a science-based organization. Science is woven through every aspect of DUC business to help us deliver more effective and efficient conservation.
  • DUC is forward-looking. We do more than employ scientists. DUC is sustaining conservation-education connections in Canada. As manager of IWWR’s Fellowships Program, I am delighted to play a role in an initiative that was so important in my own career path and has a great record of supporting future conservationists.
  • And, the new Ducks Unlimited Canada Endowed Chair in Wetland and Waterfowl Conservation at the University of Saskatchewan will help train the next generation of wetland and waterfowl scientists.
  • DUC has something for everyone. The wetland habitats DUC conserves and restores provide exceptional services to society. They support a diversity of plants and animals, improve water quality, help attenuate floods, and can help mitigate the effects of climate change — things we can all appreciate.