Spotlight on Young Nature Leaders: Zoe MacDougall
Zoe MacDougall is a young Women for Nature mentee who works with Nature Alberta as its Coordinator of the Nature Kids program. She has been interested in the natural world from very early on as a young child. She remembers hiking and camping as a family so nature was always a big part of her upbringing. Zoe has a distinct memory of camping in Cold Lake in her parents VW van and loving the fresh air and listening to the sounds of nature as they slept in the van. She is also proud that they were one of the first families in their small town to recycle. At the time, their town didn’t have a recycling facility so they would collect all of their recyclables and pile the bags into their vehicle and bring them whenever they took a trip to the big city of Edmonton.
To this day, Zoe still loves to spend time camping, hiking, walking the trails in the Edmonton River Valley and has recently broadened into bird watching too.
As she grew up, Zoe knew she wanted to study in an environmental field and be part of saving the world. She studied Environmental and Conservation Sciences from the University of Alberta and started work in consulting. But decided to go back to school for an After Degree in Elementary Education to pursue a career in Environmental Education. She had a summer job as a Program Assistant at Nature Alberta and loved creating nature education resources and planning events for families to come out and learn and appreciate nature the way she does. After graduating, she was hired by Nature Alberta as the Program Coordinator for their Nature Kids program. It has been a perfect fit for Zoe, providing learning opportunities for families of Alberta to develop a love of nature.
Zoe was nominated for the Women for Nature mentorship and as soon as she heard about it, she was thrilled to have the opportunity. She hoped that by being part of this mentorship she could further her knowledge and skills and learn new ideas that exist in the nature and environmental world to bring back to her program work. She was also excited to learn more about what other women are up to in their nature/ environmental careers as there is so much to learn in this field. She was delighted to network with other women as she believes it is invigorating to meet new people with common goals.
Zoe felt she had an amazing experience with her mentor, Kelly Matheson-King who is the COO of BluEarth Renewables. She found her mentor to be very knowledgeable and kind. Her mentor was easy to talk to and was a great listener and offered wonderful advice. Zoe felt as though she had known her mentor all her life. It was such an excellent match, and it felt like a perfect fit.
Her takeaways from the mentorship experience are that it is important to always seek out new connections and new people in life. She believes she learned so much from her mentor in just a few months that it taught her how extremely important it is to reach out and meet new people and taking time to expand your network is worthwhile.
Kelly, her mentor, helped Zoe build more confidence in her role and gave her lots of tips and tricks on how to be a good leader. Zoe was inspired by hearing about her mentor’s story and how she got to where she is today. She looks forward to continuing informal discussions with her mentor and hopes they will meet in person one day!
Overall Zoe feels the mentorship opportunity was extremely valuable as it gave her the chance to meet someone in the same field but with a completely different job. It opened her eyes to the career possibilities that exist in this field. It also gave her the opportunity to meet someone with the same life goals and to bounce ideas off of, to provide advice, and help her learn things about herself that she feels she might not receive from others within her circle. Zoe highly recommends this program to other emerging young women leaders and she believes “you might just meet a mentor who could change your life!”
Thanks to Nature Canada’s Women for Nature and our funders for investing in the people powering nature protection nationwide.