Conservationists are born with dedication, passion and enthusiasm. At a young age, a seed of interest is planted and with a little patience, it can blossom into a life-long passion. Kaitlyn Barber is an excellent example this. CVC’s Kimberley Holt-Behrend asked Kaitlyn some questions about her experience as a Conservation Youth Corp (CYC) volunteer, her current position at CVC and her goals as a conservationist.
How did you become interested in the environment?
“It was when I became a Girl Guide. We would do community garbage clean-ups, go camping and explore nature. I also volunteer with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF). I have always surrounded myself with activities that involved the environment.”
How did you get involved with CYC?
“My friend saw a CYC volunteer poster at our high school. The opportunity was right up our alley. It was the perfect way to earn volunteer hours doing what we love.”
What was your best experience with CYC?
“There are so many! Tree planting is very rewarding. You plant a tree and you instantly feel like you made a difference. I also loved electrofishing because it’s fast paced and intense. I am happy to say that some of the people I met at CYC are still my friends to this day.”
What lessons did you learn volunteering with CYC?
“I learned the importance of setting goals as a team. This allowed us to encourage and motive one another, which was very effective. This is especially true with tree planting. We set goals for how many trees we would plant and as a team we would decide where and how far apart the trees should be planted. Together, with everyone’s hard work, we always got the job done.
I also learned that I wanted to pursue a career in the environmental sector. When I finished the CYC program, I knew I wanted to continue making a different in my community. The more I learned about CVC’s projects in the Credit River watershed, the more I knew that this was where I wanted to work in the future.”
How are you currently involved with CVC?
“I work as a conservation technician at Belfountain Conservation Area.”
What are your duties?
I’m part of a team of four who help CVC run Belfountain Conservation Area. We maintain the park and trails, ensuring the area are nice and tidy for visitors. We are also in charge of park admissions. Belfountain sees many visitors, especially on weekends, so sometimes we turn in magicians in order to fit as many cars as possible into the small parking lot. It’s an exciting job because every day is different – we’re constantly learning and putting our skills to the test.”
What is your dream job?
“The more I learn, the more my idea of a “dream” job changes. I know for certain that I want to work in the environmental sector, either as an ecologist, restoration technician or working with species at risk. We’ll see what the future brings!”
Do you have any advice for youth who want to pursue a career in environmental protection?
“Volunteer as much as you can. Volunteering allows you to meet so many different people with different backgrounds and interests. Making connections is important because you never know who you may one day work for. It’s never too early to start networking. In the environmental sector, hands-on experience is really important – you can never learn too much. In the end, it’s about building character and growing your skill-set.”
Young environmental leaders like Kaitlyn are vital to the success of CVC’s conservation projects. Check out CVC’s volunteer page to learn more about volunteering.