Volunteering for impact: In conversation with nature lover Karol Dabbs
Written By: Juliana Hayden-Nygren, JGI Canada Volunteer
Category: Our Champions
This year, we celebrated Earth Month with the first annual Karol Dabbs Photography Contest. Nature lover, photographer and former board member, we were delighted to name the inaugural contest after Karol, whose passions have brought her great joy and greater environmental awareness.
You are known for your love of photography. How has photography helped you gain insight into our natural surroundings?
Photography taught me to sit quietly and observe my surroundings. As you do that, you observe the light, the clouds, the interactions in nature, and you start to see the relationships between plant and animal communities. You see that even the smallest flower is incredibly beautiful. Often, we’re really busy, driving or walking by quickly and we miss what’s really there.
I’ve had a lot of wonderful opportunities to be in undisturbed environments, the Canadian Western Plains come to mind. In those undisturbed areas you get to see the indigenous species of wildlife – they’re truly special places. Photography helps us realize that we need to save some of those places.
All projects are engaging but some affect us more than others. Which project with JGI Canada has shaped you the most?
There have been several, but certainly getting the funds to set up health clinics and schools in the Congo. This project helped the people in the local community, especially women and girls. Jane has always realized that in order to save the chimps you have to first save the habitat and the community.
During that project we could really help the people, who in turn could become involved with the sanctuaries and help the chimps. Jane’s community conservation method is very important!
Having served on the JGI Canada Board, what do you identify as some of the most pressings challenges for conservation efforts?
When it comes to conservation we need funding and fundraising. Lots of people give money for special projects, such as projects for preserving the land. But to do that properly, you need continuation of funds to manage the land for years on. For sustainability we need ongoing funding to keep up the projects.
Time is another major challenge. When I speak of time, I’m really talking about how the landscape has dramatically changed so quickly. If you compare maps from 100 years ago and 50 years ago to today, you realize that our green spaces are getting smaller and smaller. The species in our wildlife corridors are literally disappearing.
What advice do you have for young people?
First of all, spend time out in nature. Try to watch what’s happening around you without any devices or any distractions so you can see the beauty in the smallest of plants and creatures.
It’s also very important to try to educate yourself on the impact that we as humans have on our natural world. Try to find ways of preserving those untouched areas for future generations.
Remember to always act to conserve! Volunteering with different organizations makes a big impact.