I started working for Wildlife Preservation Canada in March 2018. It was my first time back at work since I had a child in 2016. Juggling work and family life is like trying to walk on a log, while river rafting, but I found myself with a new perspective on conservation. I was now, for the first time, experiencing my job through the eyes of a child.

My daughter was nearly two when I returned to work. She would come visit me on the weekends or I would bring her with me to work if I needed to pop in for a short visit. Having her come to visit me on the job made her pay attention to what I was doing and the animals I work with.

She’s taken an interest in what my frogs and my turtles are up to. Back in November 2018, I wrote about a turtle that we took into our care because she was injured in the wild. My daughter had to come in to work with me on our days off together to tub feed the turtle. She watched me put the tub down and administer the food. All the while she was very quiet. It wasn’t until we got home that she really got excited about what she’d seen. She took her plush turtle and pretended to tub feed it. I asked her about it and she repeated back to me the things she’d heard me say. The turtle is sick. She needs help to eat. And my daughter was helping her.

Maja hand feeding the injured turtle that was brought into the conservation facility in 2018.

 I was about eight years old when I first realized this is the line of work I wanted to get into. My family didn’t have much money when I was growing up, but one year we drove down to California and my parents took me to an aquarium. At 2 and 4 pm guests could buy a tray of fish for $4.00 to feed the dolphins. I wanted nothing else in the world to do this and my parents said yes. It was like Christmas had come twice that year. 

There was this adult man next to me that wouldn’t give me much space (I remember being super annoyed with him – I was a kid, hello!) and the sea gulls ate most of my fish, but I managed to feed one fish to one dolphin and touch it for about 3.4 seconds. 

And that was a moment that I was like “I’m going to be a conservation biologist.” 

No, not really. I initially figured I would just swim with dolphins for a living (perfectly reasonable), but that initial dream is what lead me along the path that brought me into the job I have today. I slowly learned, through volunteering at aquariums and going to school, what the job really entails. And though I started out with wanting to care for animals individually, I eventually became more interested in populations and that’s what makes my current role at WPC so perfect. WPC, as an organization, focuses on head starting and conservation breeding to bring engendered species back from the brink and that’s exactly what I want to be a part of.

Maja and her daughter examining a bloated frog.

I hope that while spending time with me at work my daughter will at the very least gain an appreciation for wildlife, and at the most it might help her decide one day what kind of work she wants to do – even if she doesn’t want to be as cool as her mom and become a conservation biologist.