Since we meet so many cool people at Green Drinks, we decided to start interviewing some of them. For this edition, we talked to Tara Russell, who we met at Green Drinks: Good Business. Originally from Vancouver, she’s a long-time lover of the outdoors and is currently putting that passion to work as a Conservation Assistant at the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).
Our next event is Green Drinks: Green Economy on March 1. Hope to see you there!
Hi Tara! How long have you lived in Edmonton?
Three and a half years, and I love it!
Was this your first Green Drinks? If so, why did you decide to come? If not, how many have you been to?
It was my second! I went to my first Green Drinks not long after I had moved to Edmonton, and it is actually how I ended up in my current job. I met Alison Ronson, the executive director for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Northern Alberta Chapter (CPAWS). We went out for a coffee a week or so later, and I started volunteering for CPAWS. That was more than 2 years ago, and I am now a full time employee.
I love Green Drinks, the people are incredible and inspiring and it is a really phenomenal way to connect with our community.
What were you at Green Drinks to tell people about? (i.e. what’s your big idea / project / company / interest?)
This last time I was at Green Drinks was to tell the people about CPAWS and the work that we are doing. I get really excited about the way we go about achieving our conservation goals. CPAWS Northern Alberta works to protect Alberta’s wilderness and wildlife on public lands (60% of Alberta is publicly owned), and all of our work is science-based, and collaborative. CPAWS also strives to reach out to the Northern Alberta community and to educate the public on the threats facing our wilderness.
One of our big projects right now is our #loveyourheadwaters campaign. CPAWS, in collaboration with the Yellowstone to Yukon initiative, is working to protect the Bighorn Backcountry. The Bighorn Backcountry is home to the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River, and provides Edmonton with almost 90% of its drinking water, yet it is unprotected, and threatened by industry, and irresponsible recreation. We are going to change that!
My main project (because they are so cute and fuzzy) is working to help Alberta’s threatened boreal woodland caribou. We are at risk of losing the caribou here in Alberta in our lifetime if nothing changes in the way we use and manage our wild landscapes. Caribou are an iconic Canadian species (they are even on our quarter) as well as indicators of boreal forest health. But don’t worry, there is still time to save them!
Check out our caribou campaign page and read our publication, “Alberta’s Caribou: A Guide to Range Planning” to see CPAWS’ plan for their recovery.
Who’s the most interesting person you met at Green Drinks? (i.e. who should we interview next?)
Tad Hargrave! He was fascinating, and seemed to be involved in so many aspects of the Edmonton community, from working with the Local Good to performing with Rapid Fire Theatre.
What do you do for work right now?
CPAWS is the non-profit conservation organization I work for, and everyday we get to do amazing science-based work that furthers the protection of wilderness and wildlife in Alberta. As someone who loves to be outside and on an adventure, it is so incredible to get to work everyday to protect the wild spaces that I love. We are so fortunate to have amazing wilderness still left in Alberta, I hope that through our work we have the chance to keep it for the future.
Can you tell us one nerdy, quirky or interesting fact about yourself?
I have a vegetable garden plot in my neighbourhood community garden! I love it, and am learning a lot about growing my own food. My garden teaches me something new every year. This year I learned the value of staggering your planting, and what to do with 10 kilograms of green beans all at once.
If you could instantly change one thing about Edmonton, or add something we don’t have, what would it be? Is there something you’ve seen in another city that you wish was in Edmonton?
I love Edmonton! It has an incredible river valley, cute and quirky neighbourhoods, a resiliency you are hard pressed to find elsewhere, and all sorts of hidden gems. However, I still meet people that live here that say they hate it, or meet people from elsewhere that do not understand why I like living here. I wish we could change the way that Edmonton is perceived. It is a fabulous city to live in, and filled with awesome people!