Welcome to our 2023 CPAWS NB summer students!
As the seasons transition from spring to summer, people across New Brunswick flock to parks to experience beautiful beaches, lakes and rivers, and tranquil forests. Here at CPAWS NB, we are preparing for a summer full of Get Outside! events and we have welcomed two eager and passionate students to our team, to help bring these activities to a park near you!
Without further ado, let us introduce Maddie and Kristen! With these two around, you will be able to feel their enthusiasm and love for nature. They are excited to share how they feel connected to nature, and why they feel so passionate about the environment.
My name is Madeline Yerxa, and I am thrilled to be working with CPAWS NB this summer. I am from Fredericton, New Brunswick and entering my third year of Environment and Natural Resources with a major in wildlife conservation at the University of New Brunswick (UNB). My favourite things to learn about are wildlife ecology and environmental sociology. I am passionate about outdoor education and have spent the past five summers instructing youth in camping skills and earth education. I love to spend time in nature, whether that is on a canoe trip, going for a hike or sitting outside for a while – nothing compares to how I feel when I am outside. I am grateful that I can spend this summer working outdoors with the GetOutside! NB program. I believe that the outdoors is for everyone, and I am looking forward to creating a safe space for all to connect with nature this summer.
My name is Kristen Hopkins. I am originally from the small town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Having grown up with the outdoors as the backdrop for my childhood and am a lover of hiking, camping, nature photography and strolls along beautiful beaches with my dog(s). I am a passionate student working towards my BSc. Environmental Management (EM) with a major in People, Policy and Planning, as well as my BSc. Forestry at UNB. I am particularly interested in the social aspects of environmental issues and solutions. For my capstone project of my EM undergraduate degree, I worked with the Native Women’s Association of Canada to design an agroforest for the Wabanaki Resiliency Lodge in the Village of Gagetown, New Brunswick. I am a firm believer that we all have a connection to nature, but sometimes that connection is more of a challenge to experience when individuals lack access to, or awareness of local nature. I am so excited to be working with the CPAWS NB team to learn how to facilitate connections to nature for others.
What experiences have led to your passion for this field of work?
Maddie – I feel fortunate to have grown up surrounded by the beautiful wilderness of New Brunswick. I also feel fortunate to have learned through my studies how unique the Wabanaki forest is. My passion for protecting New Brunswick’s natural spaces has grown from learning and spending time in nature. Through working as an earth educator in the past, I have also developed a passion for outdoor education. Watching individuals flourish in these programs has made me aware of how crucial nature education is in conservation work – after all, our lived experiences in nature are what drives our passion to protect it!
Kristen – My passion for nature was initially sparked by the connections I felt with animals – my pets first, and then wildlife. This passion grew as I spent more time experiencing nature and wildlife. When I was 16 years old, I was lucky enough to go on a trip to Alberta and see the Rocky Mountains for the first time. On this trip, I also met someone who told me they had never gotten to see or touch the ocean for themselves. Growing up by the ocean, I had never realized how much I took it for granted. To this day, I feel that this was a pivotal point in the development of my passion for conservation, and when I returned home, I began to see the world very differently. I also became very attached to a specific conservation campaign – Jumbo Wild, which advanced my passion for nature and helped me decide that I wanted to learn more about conservation in university. It has also solidified my understanding of the importance of collaborating with Indigenous nations and has opened my eyes to the need for reconciliation in Canada and the opportunity offered to work towards this as part of the work I will do in conservation.
All of this has led me to who and where I am now. I believe that each time in nature is a different experience and a new reconnection, which is why it is so important to help people learn to care about protecting nature. I am incredibly thankful to have had these experiences. I cannot express enough how important it is for all of us to learn how we connect to nature in our own ways, for our own health and for the health of the natural world.
What is your favourite part about working for CPAWS NB? / What are you most looking forward to as a CPAWS NB summer student?
Maddie – I am thrilled to be representing such an incredible organization that gives New Brunswickers the tools to take action and protect the wilderness they love and need. As a young person, I often feel overwhelmed when it comes to speaking up for nature. In the past, I have felt that my voice was insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and that it was pointless to stand up for what I believed in. In my short time working with CPAWS NB, I already feel like that idea has been proven wrong, and now, more than ever, I feel empowered to act and protect the spaces I care about. I also think that it is very special to be in a position that can inspire people to connect with nature. I am a firm believer that nature can be enjoyed by anyone. I am looking forward to a summer filled with GetOutside! NB activities and encouraging participants of all ages and backgrounds to connect with nature!
Kristen – CPAWS NB is a wonderful organization for many reasons and is an ENGO that I have admired since I entered the conservation world as a student. I like to think of my position with CPAWS as having the responsibility to spread love and passion for nature, and to provide the necessary education and awareness to hold this passion safely and responsibly. Everyone deserves to feel connected to nature, and nature deserves to have a voice. Through the Get Outside! NB program, CPAWS NB helps people understand that they can be part of this voice, and that wildlife and nature in New Brunswick needs them to speak up. There are so many opportunities planned in the Get Outside! NB schedule where Maddie and I will get to share this important message and learn more about conservation in New Brunswick from the rest of the team. I am so excited to be a part of this work and to have this experience!
What is your favourite way to enjoy nature in New Brunswick?
Maddie – I enjoy nature in New Brunswick in many ways! I absolutely love camping – overnight hiking and canoe trips are always my favourite camping trips! On beautiful sunny days, my friends and I also like to hunt for waterfalls. I love to practice identifying plants and sharing that knowledge with friends and family. I find this helps me connect with nature and is a way for me to share my appreciation of this province with people I care about. Above all, I love relaxing, breathing, and exploring all of my senses in nature.
As someone who has lived here her whole life, it is sometimes easy to take this province for granted. That is why I love to discover new places in New Brunswick, whether that is sightseeing, camping, or hiking. This province never ceases to amaze me, and I am always finding something new to love about New Brunswick.
Kristen – I love going on hikes with an awesome view at the end or meditative strolls along quiet trails in nature, always with my border collie, Rory! Every province in Canada has its own unique nature which I think is beautiful. I also think it is very important to experience this nature for myself, so I can maintain and develop new connections, which will in turn fuel my love and desire to protect nature. My dog and I are both lovers of the beach and other coastal adventures. I am looking forward to experiencing some of New Brunswick’s provincial and national parks for the first time as well this summer!
Watch for our CPAWS NB team at provincial parks across the province this summer! If you haven’t already, check out the Get Outside! NB summer programming schedule. We can’t wait to see you out in nature this summer!