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Volunteer Spotlight: Mike Smith

Posted on October 31, 2023

The benefits of volunteering are endless.

To the community, it means opportunities created that may not otherwise exist.

To visitors, it means a friendly face to guide them on their visits and answer questions.

But to the volunteer, it means much more. From developing new skills, making friends, and finding that magical sense of fulfillment as you watch kids explore, there are many things to enjoy about volunteering.

And, for some lucky volunteers, it even means bonding with a loved one.

Like Mike, who joined our volunteer community because his daughter, who had started working at FortWhyte, thought it would be the perfect fit for him.

Volunteer Mike stands with daughter Leah, FortWhyte's Forest School Manager

1. Tell us a bit about yourself!

I grew up in England as a young boy I was interested in the outdoors. At the age of 8, I joined the Cub Scouts where my love of adventure and nature was fostered and I remained in the organization till my mid-twenties. I emigrated to Canada in 1970 and worked in food service until my retirement. I have lived in rural and urban areas and have always been interested in the outdoors and visiting provincial and urban parks including FortWhyte Alive.

2. How did you hear about volunteering with us and what made you want to start?

When Leah, my daughter secured the position of Forest School Manager she thought I would be a good fit to volunteer at Fort Whyte because of my lifelong interest and experience with outdoor activities. I was excited for this opportunity. So last March I took some training classes and attended seminars including the following; fur trader, sod house attendant, forest school assistant, bird-watching, and aboriginal awareness.

"He was the one who connected me to nature as a child, with his adventurous spirit and his background as a boy scout in England, we always had the best time when out exploring. Sharing that enthusiasm with the Forest School felt like something that would bring value to both him and the children."


3. What has been your favourite part of volunteering at FortWhyte?

I am happy to volunteer at Forest School, it gives me great satisfaction to see the young curious eager minds solving problems and challenges. The sense of adventure they have will build character to meet the challenges in the future.

Volunteer Mike stands with daughter Leah, FortWhyte's Forest School Manager

When schedules allow it Mike isn’t volunteering solo, he’s also joined by his grandson Owen meaning 3 generations are working hard to create a magical experience at Forest School!

Mike, Leah and Owen smile at camera.

4. Has volunteering had a positive impact in any other areas of your life?

The positive effect of volunteering has reawakened the Boy Scout in me. Respect, for the environment, an appreciation of nature and wildlife.

5. What would you tell someone interested in volunteering at FortWhyte?

Anybody who wants to escape the electronic, social media and the pressures of today’s pace of life. I recommend volunteering at Fort Whyte Alive.

Thank you Mike for being part of our community, thank you for making magic happen!


Volunteers are the heart of FortWhyte Alive. If you’re looking to get involved you can learn more about volunteering at: If you’re looking to volunteer alongside a loved one please reach out to [email protected] to learn more about what might be right for you.

Special thank you to LaFarge Canada for helping us celebrate our volunteers all year long!