Into the WILD

“Despite Canada’s numerous efforts to protect the environment, the number of wildlife species in our own country continues to dwindle. The World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet report found that nearly 451 species consisting of a range of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians were in serious decline in Canada last year (Craig). As disheartening as this finding sounds, it raises many questions about the effectiveness of our current conservation efforts…

These are a few sentences taken from a research paper I wrote last fall about wildlife conservation in Canada. You may be wondering why I’d even bother to reflect on this old paper — especially now during the summer. And you’re right, why am I? Well, at the time I wrote this paper, the possibility of learning more about wildlife conservation for my Stretch Experience did not cross my mind yet. Yet, here I am, interning at WILDNorth as a Wildlife Education Intern. It couldn’t get any more full circle than this.

It is WILDNorth’s 30th anniversary this year! Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/wildnorthab/

For those unfamiliar with this incredible organization, WILDNorth is Alberta’s northernmost charitable organization that provides exceptional care for sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife here in our province (Who We Are). They take in a whopping 2500 wild animals from over 150 species every year into their hospital and rehabilitation center, which are both located in Edmonton and Parkland County, respectively.

Asides from compassionately rehabilitating wildlife, WILDNorth runs a few programs like WILDCare, WILDRescue, and lastly WILDEd as well (to learn more about these programs I highly recommend checking out their website at wildnorth.ca). These programs allow post-secondary students to get involved and learn more about this wonderful organization. And that’s where I come in. I’m currently interning for WILDEd, and I’m lovin’ every bit of it.

As a Wildlife Education Intern I am not only learning more about wildlife rehabilitation and the responsible ways in which humans can help injured wildlife but also how to successfully engage Grade 3 and 5 classrooms for sometimes hour-long presentations. Anyone who knows me even the slightest bit would know that presentations aren’t necessarily my forte. During the course of this month, however, I’ve seen myself become a lot more comfortable conducting presentations about a topic once foreign to me in front of large classrooms filled with curious kids and teachers.

And while I would hope that every presentation goes smoothly, that’s not always the case. There are times when I begin mumbling or have been completely muted by a group of excited elementary students. In other instances, I will be asked a question that I do not know the answer to. And although it may be momentarily uncomfortable, not knowing and admitting that you may not know the answer to a question is okay too. It’s during those imperfect presentation moments that I begin to test or in this case, stretch myself beyond my “comfort zone.”

Once WILDEd presentations wrap up at the end of June, our team of interns will be preparing for the summer camp portion of the WILDEd program in July and August. I’m definitely looking forward to those next couple of months as we’ll be preparing even more exciting wildlife-centered activities for the kids and spending lots of time out in the wild. At the end of this fulfilling experience, I hope to take what I’ve gathered as an intern from WILDNorth and translate it back into my volunteering endeavors with UAlberta’s Sustain SU. I want to implement programs or even presentations catered towards university students that show just how important wildlife conservation is for sustainability (and vice versa).

But for now, I will leave you with this: remember that no matter how small our actions may be that they collectively have profound effects on not only ourselves but also the wildlife that surround us. And also, please please please remember not to litter!

Written by: Caroline Suliga

References:

Craig, Sean. (13 Sept. 2017) “New report says half of Canada’s wildlife species are in decline: ‘We are going to lose ecosystems’.” Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/3737281/canadas-wildlife-decline-wwf-canada-report/.

Who We Are. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://wildnorth.ca/who-we-are/.

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