In our “Behind the Scenes” series, Discovery Program staff from across the province share a “behind the scenes” look at their favorite shows and projects. tToday’s post comes from Alexander Renaud, Discovery Program Leader at Emily Provincial Park.
Seven years ago I applied for every job under the sun (as all college students do) and finally got the call.
The only downside…I had never been to a provincial park before.
I spent my childhood in the cabin avoiding bugs on a covered porch. Wow, I was in for an awakening!
My first year
To say I struggled during my first year would be an understatement.
As a history and political science student, biology was not my strongest subject.
Oh, and the outdoors. I didn’t like that much either. Why do you ask? Insects. And what was my first program about? These were insects, ladybugs to be specific.
So I started researching and familiarizing myself with the outline of the program. Here are some things I learned about them…
A beautiful collection of ladybugs made by visitors.
My first program!
A couple weeks later, I was hooked!
I loved meeting new people during the programs. Guided walks have easily become one of my favorite running activities! I even developed a passion for canoeing, just so I could explore Emily from the water.
“Who’s who in the dark”, guide to nocturnal animals
When park management asked me if I would like to return next season, I said, “YES!”
The next years
As park staff, we are always asked, “What other campgrounds would you recommend?” Do you know what is offered in this park? How many parks have you visited?
48 parks and counting!
In that first year, my answers were very vague because I had yet to explore beyond the boundaries of my own park.
That all changed when I purchased my own Summer Park Pass! I hit the road with camera in hand. I camped, hiked, paddled, you name it! I gathered anecdotes, wildlife encounters, and innovative ideas to bring back to Emily and our campers.
In my third year, I applied all of these experiences as a Discovery program leader. The team and I work hard to develop creative programs and a unique experience for visitors!
Spike, the park’s snapping turtle, has the wingspan of a blue jay.
Why do I keep coming back?
Six years, dozens of programs, four bioblitzes, and thousands of happy campers later, I fondly remember my time at Emily Provincial Park.
Saying “CHEESE” after a late-night show
The experiences and opportunities I had in this position have shaped me into the individual I am today: an avid iNaturalist user, a perpetual trash collector, a turtle stopper, and of course, a storyteller!
I am rooted in nature.
Compilation of photographs of different species in Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park
This lifelong connection has been fueled by every moment of my stay in our provincial parks and by the dedicated staff, energetic campers, breathtaking views and incredible creatures that call them home.
Emily Provincial Park staff photo, 2019