Volunteer of the Month: Property Guardian Donald Allan

01 Dec 2020

Photo credit: Donald Allan

This month, we recognize the outstanding work by one of our faithful Property Guardians, Donald Allan.

Originally from Toronto, Ontario, there were a few factors that drew Allan to Nova Scotia. These were Nova Scotia’s clean, fresh air, the beauty of the forests, and most importantly, the thousands of kilometres of beautiful, natural shoreline.

During his first year of living in Nova Scotia, Donald attended a meeting which the Nova Scotia Nature Trust organized to raise awareness of volunteer opportunities. Looking specifically for Property Guardians, a few properties were mentioned, but there were two islands recently protected courtesy of the Zimmerman-Hauer family—Great and Selig Islands. These islands happened to be located across the harbour from where Donald lived in Port Medway. He was delighted to know that they were protected and volunteers were needed to help with their stewardship.” By volunteering, Donald considered himself incredibly fortunate for the opportunity to kayak out and observe the natural beauty of the rocky shores and sandy beaches.

Donald’s different responsibilities vary between removing debris washed up along the shore, making necessary observations such as describing any changes, damages caused by high winds, or other interesting observations like various animal tracks.

Donald’s volunteer experience has served as an educational one as well. “I have little knowledge of rare flowers, and one interesting activity provided by the Nature Trust was an outdoor hike at Ponhook Lake to learn about Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora. This has made me more observant and motivated me to photograph interesting wildflowers and look them up when I get back home.”

Photo credit: Irwin Barrett

When asked about other interesting stories from his experience as a volunteer, Donald recalled a recent visit to the island by kayak. He noticed a tire in the sand below water level but was unable to pull it out. He returned another day at low tide, and the tire was high and dry on the beach. He quickly collected it and a few other bits of debris from the island, but the wind had picked up considerably when ready to leave. Donald describes, “I opted not to cross the open, rough water with a tire balanced on my bow and chose an alternative protected route to the mainland over the ‘shallow flats.’ Unfortunately, due to the shallow tide and my extra load, I kept getting grounded! Getting in and out of the kayak, freeing it from the sands, rebalancing the tire, to only advance to the next sandbar was not my finest hour!” Donald decided to drop off the tire at the neighbouring Nature Trust island with plans to return under more favourable conditions. However, that next trip turned out to be when Joanna, the Nature Trust Stewardship Assistant, arrived with volunteers Dave and Seely. “As we paddled past the tire now securely located on a ledge, I sheepishly explained how it got there, and we all had a good laugh. That was a fun social/working trip; kayaking out to the island together, exploring the bays and channels, going on the land, and taking some strategic photographs. We had a great day and promised to get together again next year at this or another site.”

All in all, Donald says volunteering has been the most enjoyable experience, providing him with countless opportunities to observe and better appreciate nature. “It is rewarding to think that each small effort contributes to the marvellous work that the Nature Trust does in preserving and protecting these natural habitats for future generations,” says Donald.

We can’t thank volunteers like Donald Allan enough for the amazing work they do. Please join us in giving Donald a huge thank you for all of his tremendous efforts in helping us protect Nova Scotia’s natural beauty!

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