It’s been my pleasure and privilege to have been the inaugural Executive Director for the Edmonton and Area Land Trust for over 11 years. But insightful EDs know that there’s a need to transfer leadership in order to bring in new experiences, skills, perspectives and contacts.
I came from decades of assisting the private sector, NGOs, and governments, and I certainly enjoyed many years of international consulting to parks and other national agencies, the UN, and conservation organisations around the world. Thus when it was suggested I apply to become the first ED of EALT, my first reaction was “I don’t do jobs”! However, with consideration, I realised that building EALT from the ground up was full of a huge variety of challenges, and challenges always make one’s work interesting. There were not only challenges; opportunities also abounded whether they came to EALT, or they were created. And there has been great joy in making a meaningful difference in this most fragmented and urbanising region of the Province.
I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to serve EALT and this region. There’s tremendous satisfaction and reward in seeing where EALT stands now. And of course, this has been due to the dedicated EALT staff and volunteers, many of whom I consider friends as well as colleagues; I must pay tribute to their high quality, knowledge, and passion. Success has also been due to the growing support of the community at large, whether donors, advocates, or volunteers. My job building EALT would have been much more difficult if not for the support and advice of many colleagues and the EALT Board.
Just some of EALT’s collective accomplishments include:
Securing 12 conservation lands (and no one should doubt the years of work that just one securement takes!)
Recruiting hundreds of volunteers to assist our work and steward lands
Empowering citizens on how to improve habitat on their properties, and steward them
Partnering with over 120 organisations and businesses
Engaging citizens via workshops for children, youth and adults
Creating over 50 educational resources for the public, including Alberta’s first Guide to Species at Risk
Initiating an educational Go-Wild for Geocaching project on our lands
Creating an Earth Ambassador Award for businesses
Developing an incredible website, with free conservation resources, and robust social media platforms
Winning two Alberta Emerald Foundation Awards
Developing a wildly successful Protecting Pollinators project in 2015, which shows no signs of slowing down
And even a good-fun, public-supported project – winning the Benefit Brew competition for Alberta, resulting in the first named beer for Edmonton, as well as a cash donation. Cheers!
Our 10th Anniversary Annual Report summarises what a decade of conservation looks like – amazing!
My decision last year to retire from EALT was not an easy one. I’ll find it difficult to leave behind the colleagues and supporters with whom I’ve worked, learnt from, and shared a passion for conservation.
However, the organisation will be in great hands as Sheila Campbell takes over, and I’m delighted to welcome her to EALT. Sheila is already well known to many in the Alberta conservation scene, and you can read more about her here. I can assure you from our meetings, long drives, and other interactions, that EALT will be in wonderfully capable hands, together with the marvellous team already in place.
Many of you have been asking about my plans for the future. I have children and grandchildren here that deserve more attention and outdoors time, as well as family scattered around the world; I continue to be asked to do consulting work; I have a huge garden that needs constant tending; and I’ve always volunteered in various ways – there will be no shortage of choices.
Let me thank you all for your friendship, support, and the honour of having worked with you.
I hope to remain in contact with as many of my friends at EALT as possible, so this is not goodbye, but rather au revoir!