Connecting today’s young people to nature


Richard Yank is an environmental engineer, a retired executive, a birder, a conservationist and a grandfather. And all of those parts of his life come together beautifully in his current position as Board Chair for Nature Canada. 

“I’ve always been interested in nature in one way or another,” says Richard. “My mother was from a farming family, and my father’s folks were caretakers for fish & game clubs. So I grew up spending a lot of time in the woods in Western Quebec.”

Richard loves to retreat to the family cottage on Hawk Lake, close to his old family homestead. There he can indulge in his passion, bird watching. 

“As so many of our supporters have done, I came to Nature Canada through the birding community,” he says. Richard is past president of Bird Protection Quebec and a former regional director for BirdLife International. He was also a regular editor and contributor to American Birding Association publications, and led field trips for several conservation organizations.

“It becomes clear pretty quickly, if you spend a lot of time in nature, that unless we take positive steps to protect it, future generations will not be able to enjoy the untouched wilderness and diversity of wildlife that exists today,” says Richard. 

Richard recently became a grandfather for the first time and is feeling an even greater urgency to conserve our natural heritage. He feels leaving a bequest to Nature Canada in his Will is an important way to make sure his new grandson will one day be able to experience the joys of nature. 

“Nature Canada has been a strong and constant voice for protecting habitats and species at risk for 75 years, and I want to do my part to make sure it can continue to speak out for generations to come,” he says. “I’ve seen this organization from the inside out, so I can trust that my bequest will be handled carefully and spent wisely.”

Richard believes a big part of successful conservation in the future will be helping today’s young people to connect with nature. That’s why Nature Canada has focused on programs like My Park’s Pass, which has already provided access to National Parks for 400,000 eighth-grade children and their families. NatureHood, a program that engages the public in tracking trends in nature, is now being piloted in urban areas to make it easier for young people to get involved. 

“Nature Canada has always done this kind of grassroots education and advocacy, whether it’s teaching kids about wildlife or making connections between nature groups across the country,” says Richard. “With legacies like mine, Nature Canada will have the core funding it needs to continue to the fight to preserve Canada’s natural heritage for our children and grandchildren.”

For more information about how you can make your own gift for nature in your will, please contact Jodi Joy at 1-800-267-4088 ext 239 or by email at