Cathy Rand’s bucket list includes visiting a Nature Conservancy of Canada property in every province. She connects her love of nature conservation to her life’s work. “If we don’t have healthy environments, we don’t have healthy people.”
Two years ago, Cathy Rand started thinking of all she still wanted to do and see in Canada – and panicked.
“I thought, ‘What if I don’t get to see enough of it before I get too old?’” says Ms. Rand, 67, who spent her career working in prevention in the public health field. “I made a bucket list, a plan to make a concerted effort to go to each province and territory, where I would visit a Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) site, hike at least 10 kilometres of the Trans Canada Trail and travel along one of the designated Canadian Heritage Rivers before I die.”
Her interest in NCC properties arose indirectly from reading a book by Sharon Butala, The Perfection of the Morning: An Apprenticeship in Nature. She decided to visit the part of Saskatchewan featured in the book.
When Ms. Rand researched what she might do in the area during her 1999 trip, she came across a call for Conservation Volunteers to visit a Saskatchewan ranch and pick wildflower seeds on the property as part of restoration work there. “It turned out to be the Butala Ranch, known as Old Man on His Back,” she says. “I met Sharon and her husband Peter, who worked with NCC to preserve the property, and spent a week there. I knew from then on I was going to spend the last part of my life on nature conservation.”
Cathy Rand at Port Jolli, NS (photo courtesy Cathy Rand)
She connects her love of nature conservation to her life’s work. “If we don’t have healthy environments, we don’t have healthy people.”
Ms. Rand isn’t alone in feeling that connection. A recent Ipsos Reid poll, conducted on behalf of NCC, found that feeling happy is as simple as connecting to nature. The survey found that 87 per cent of Canadians agree that the more connected they feel to nature, the happier they are.
Respondents reported feeling close to their environment, and said they consider their environment very important. Three quarters said that conserving natural areas and the variety of native plant and animal life in Canada is important. When asked why, most said to leave a legacy for their children and others said to protect plants and animals at risk, and to ensure clean water and clean air.
“After a day spent outdoors, I always feel better,” says Ms. Rand, who is an NCC Leader in Conservation – a group of NCC donors who have committed to give at least $1,000 a year to support the non-profit land conservation group’s work across the country. “It puts things in perspective, allows me to set better priorities and helps me experience life in a more sane, calm, peaceful way.”
Ms. Rand has already visited two NCC properties in Ontario, collecting wildflower seeds and grass seed at the Rice Lake Plains and touring the Carden Alvar Natural Area. In Alberta, she weeded thistle at the Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary near Devon, outside of Edmonton. In the Maritimes, she hiked the Port Joli coastal region in Nova Scotia and the Canavoy Area Beaches of Prince Edward Island. In B.C., she visited the Cowichan Valley Garry Oak Preserve. Across the country, in Quebec, she hiked the Sutton Mountains.
“On a personal level, this just satisfies my need to get out and explore,” explains Ms. Rand. “And, if I’m going to get out and explore Canada, why not do it in the very special places that NCC is protecting because of their unique features?”
To learn how you can support NCC’s work, visit: natureconservancy.ca/help.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation’s leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 2.6 million acres (1 million hectares), coast to coast.
For more information, visit natureconservancy.ca.