Currents of Change: Inspiring, Creating, Transforming

Currents of Change: Inspiring, Creating, Transforming

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Knowledge Comes but Wisdom Lingers

By Barbara MacKenzie-Wynia, Regional Nature Network Coordinator, Ontario Nature

"To me, mentorship is about guiding. This isn’t the same as teaching because, in my mind, a good mentor doesn’t give you a step-by-step guide to success. Instead, they provide valuable insight that can only be gained through experience, and this insight can in turn be taken and applied in a way that makes sense to the person being mentored. The results of this transfer and application can then be fed back to the mentor in a reciprocal, iterative process. With this in mind I believe that mentoring is particularly important to me in my current situation: as someone who is working toward completing a PhD I feel that I am in a position to both offer and accept career and life lessons. We are never too young (or old) to help guide others down the paths we have already walked."
William Trenouth, PhD Student, University of Guelph

I have always thought that the Latornell Symposium would be a perfect venue to provide formal mentoring opportunities for Conservation professionals. It just makes good sense.  Art Latornell believed in sharing ideas and experiences with young people, and wanted to ensure that younger generations learned about natural resources and the environment.  Despite Art's numerous professional achievements, many would argue that Art had his greatest impact through his influence and teaching of students and colleagues. Fittingly, even the A.D. Latornell Conservation Symposium logo was designed to represent the significant aspects of Art Latornell's life and legacy. Looking closely, the logo is a silhouette of an ancient tree, which represents the conservation of natural resources, and Art's long-standing interest in the natural world. When viewed in the negative however, the white areas formed by the trunk contain the profiles of two people, a young student and an older man, with their heads lowered as if studying something on the ground. This view of the logo represents Art's belief in the importance of mentoring and teaching which he practiced in his lifetime and which continues through his bequest in the Latornell Symposium Programs.

And now, after 20 years of successful Latornell Sympoisum’s, a comprehensive mentorship program is being launched.  The new mentorship program is meant to foster opportunities for career growth at the beginning of your career, mid-way through, or for any continuous learner that enjoys connecting with new people of all ages with common interests. Throughout the Symposium there will be a collection of events and activities planned to purposefully connect you with new people of all ages with similar interests, to share stories, experiences and to learn from one another. I think there is no better time for this program to be launched than at the Symposium’s 20th anniversary celebration! It is my hope that the mentoring program will foster inspiration and collaboration in our community and continue to build relationships far beyond the week of the actual Symposium.

If you want to learn more about the Latornell Mentoring program (and I hope you do), check out this link for more information:

Barbara MacKenzie- Wynia is the Regional Nature Network Coordinator for Ontario Nature. She is also a long standing member of the A.D. Latornell Conservation Symposium Steering Committee and a member of the newly established Latornell Mentoring Committee. Look for her at the Symposium- she’s ready to chat!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

A Prosperous Economy needs Climate Resilience

By Jo-Anne Rzadki, Conservation Ontario

Recently, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century.  Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.  The panel reports that this will cause sea levels to continue to rise, there will be longer and more frequent heat waves with currently dry regions receiving less rainfall and wet regions receiving more.  As a result of our past, present and expected future actions, effects will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 stop. 

You can read the report and draw your own conclusions, but I know for some this may be discouraging to hear and generate a feeling of hopelessness and that it’s too late to do anything about this.  I prefer to take the “glass half full” view. 

The theme of this year’s A.D. Latornell Conservation Symposium, Resilience: The Ability to Adapt to Change, sends a positive and hopeful message that in the face of dire messages, there are things we can still do – even within in the current restrained fiscal “climate” - to work collaboratively and make a difference. Citizens, public agencies, private industry, non-government organizations, and community groups can all contribute to building resilience by finding new ways of doing business.

One of the streams in the Symposium program will focus on the Green Economy and Ecosystem Services.  Speakers will explore how ecosystem services support resilience and will identify priorities in managing those services for increased resilience and human well being.  Case study presentations will highlight successes, what has been learned, and what is needed by various sectors to advance the economy within the context of resilient sustainable ecosystems and societies. 

Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities recognize we have a role to play with others in contributing to a vibrant society and economy by promoting new technologies like low impact development and green infrastructure and by providing the best local watershed science available such as up to date floodplain maps which help to adapt to more frequent intensive storm events like those we have seen over this past summer.
What I find encouraging is that businesses, companies and their investors are recognizing that economic prosperity is dependent on ecosystem services.  Our environment helps to produce energy, supplies water to industry and individual households, contributes to tourism, timber, fisheries and recreation sectors, provides food and much, much more. This year’s Symposium program will provide examples from private sector companies of what they are doing to ensure economic and environmental and climate resilience, reduce emissions and manage water, as well as maintain biodiversity and natural systems that are essential to good business – and healthy lifestyles for employees and communities. Some may call it “Green Washing” but from what I’ve seen, there is plenty of real progress being made for the right reasons.  They will also be telling us their challenges and providing suggestions for how those of us in the conservation and environment sector can work more effectively with them. I’m looking forward to the discussion….and the opportunities for collaboration.

Jo-Anne Rzadki is the Watershed Stewardship Coordinator at Conservation Ontario and led the development of the Green Economy/Ecosystem Services stream for Latornell 2013. Jo-Anne will be speaking about Conservation Authorities in a Changing Economy- Green Economy Roadmap in session T2D at the Symposium.