A season to celebrate at the National Wildlife Area in Dundee
The 2020 season for the Friends of the Lac Saint-François National Wildlife Area will officially come to an end on Oct. 31, but coordinator Karina Leclair has already declared this season a success.
“It was an extremely hectic year due to the delayed reopening caused by the pandemic,” Leclair admits. “Because of COVID we had to reinvent ourselft,” she says, suggesting that she, along withh her team, had to learn to work whit the different measures imposed by the virus, and not in spite of them. She says she owes a great deal of thanks to her employees for the extraordinary work they were able to accomplish, including the development of new activities via social media that kept members and the general public interested in the reserve even though on-site activities were severely limited. “Throughout the years, the Friend of the Lac Saint-François National Wildlife Area have had many summer students and employees, but this season is a memorable one. In the years to come, we will be able to say that we lived through a pandemic together,” says Leclair. “Despite all the disinfectant, we still managed to make it fun,” she laughs, explaining that the team held weekly meetings to not only talk about how to improve the visitors’ experience at the wildlife reserve, but to check in and make sure everyone was adjusting to the new reality as well as possible. Leclair even put in place what she refers to as a COVID day, which allowed employees a paid day off “if ever they just need a break.”
In July, the team lost one of its senior members with the retirement of Daniel Lafleur after five years working at the site. Leclair is quick to recognize his contribution over the years. She is also very grateful to the organization’s board of directors and the people she worked closely with at the Department of Environment and Climate Change Canada for their support and encouragement.
In the end, she feels the experience of keeping the organization running during the first wave of the pandemic will only help to make sure they are prepared to open again next spring. And, thanks to the engaged employees this season, they have a number of exciting new plans for activities once the site can be reopened completely.