We took a walk through the forest with Tom, to hear how volunteering at FortWhyte Alive has affected his life after retirement.
How were you first introduced to FortWhyte?
My wife, Novella, and I had been going to FortWhyte for some time, but it wasn’t until we started attending some of the programs that we learned about volunteering here. As I approached retirement I started to consider volunteering, and Novella suggested I might enjoy Birding + Breakfast. I really enjoyed the camaraderie of the volunteers and participants at those sessions.
Was this where you first became interested in birds?
I first became interested in birds when my daughter was in kindergarten and she brought home a milk carton bird feeder. It attracted birds to our backyard, and I began taking out birding books from the public library. The interest was there, but it wasn’t until I started coming to Birding + Breakfast that I learned so much more about birding.
For Tom, the connections he has built through the volunteering community at FortWhyte Alive have been the most impactful.
What made volunteering at FortWhyte a good fit for you?
A lot of what I did throughout my career as an electrical engineer made volunteering at FortWhyte a good fit, but there’s something for every skill and ability. I managed the new Corporate Headquarters project in downtown Winnipeg and was involved in the decision making for implementing bird-safe windows. I also spent some time living up north, and it was this experience that gave me real appreciation for nature and being outdoors.
What’s one of your favourite memories volunteering?
One of my favourite memories was of the first time I did fire tending and marshmallow roasting with a class of young school children, a lot of them who had never experienced cooking over a fire. It was right out of my comfort zone.
What would you tell others who are considering volunteering?
You have the opportunity to do something worthwhile in great company. You pick the opportunities that suit your schedule. No matter your interests or skill, there is a job for you with lots of support and training available. For me, it’s the people here who make volunteering worth it. Whether I’m volunteering as a Fire Tender, a Birding + Breakfast leader, or building Wood Kits, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing, as long as I’m surrounded by good people I enjoy it.
Thank you, Tom.
From all of us, thank you for your commitment to FortWhyte and the contributions you’ve made in helping others connect with nature.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of FortWhyte Alive. They come from all walks of life. From retired professionals to students looking to gain experience, what they have in common is a desire to make a sustainable impact.
Head to fortwhyte.org/volunteering to learn more and apply today.