The True Meaning of Dedication and Devotion: One Man’s Nature Service

Jodi and Noah

Jodi Joy
Director of Development and Communications

What’s the true definition of dedication and devotion?  I’m truly inspired and constantly reminded of what it is by Nature Canada members who volunteer their time for nature.

One such member shared his story with me a few weeks ago and it sparked me to write about it.

Kiyoshi Takahashi grew up in a small village in the countryside of central Japan (about 100 kms north of Tokyo).  He remembers vividly that as a young five-year-old boy he always enjoyed playing with bats, observing dragonflies up close and watching the barn swallows that nested in his father’s home.

image of a Purple Martin

Photo of a Purple Martin

This past year, he and family celebrated a proud moment – their 50th anniversary of living in Canada.  He notes it was a real joy for him “to retire to serve nature” at age 58 and has devoted his time and efforts over the past twenty-five years to helping swallows, Purple Martins and bats by installing nest boxes, and monitoring species populations across the lower BC mainland.

He is credited as the main person responsible for the return of nesting Purple Martins in Port Moody and has received accolades and awards for this amazing work –donating hours and hours of his time installing, monitoring, cleaning nest boxes and doing counts to help protect our precious nature.

Stewardship efforts like these have brought the Purple Martin population in BC back from the brink of extinction (6 pairs in the 1980s) to a viable breeding population with over 800 pairs now.

In his spare time, Kiyoshi has lead numerous walks, written articles and shared his nature photography with Japanese-Canadians to help raise awareness and inspire others to care about nature nearby.

Image by J.Saremba of Kiyoshi installing a new bird box

Kiyoshi installing a new bird box. Photo by J. Saremba.

Talk about dedication…he and a fellow volunteer received over 400 bird flea bites while recently cleaning Purple Martin houses – it is exactly this type of selfless and deep commitment that sometimes goes unnoticed by others but is truly amazing and should be highlighted because stewardship or what Kiyoshi calls “nature service” is equally important as other types of community service.

Being modest and humble, Kiyoshi says it just makes sense that if you want to maintain healthy nature on the earth, than you must give back to nature… and nature always give us some labour to do!” 

We hope you might consider giving back to nature which sustains us too.  Consider installing a bird or bat box. Take a child on a Bat exploration walk. Become a Purple Martin landlord/steward or become involved in bird counts. Get involved with other types of citizen science projects in your community.

You can read more about Nature Canada’s research project monitoring Eastern Ontario’s Purple Martin populations and geo-tagging results here. And please consider gifting today to conserve Canada’s nature.

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