Collage of discovery program

5 things I love about being a Discovery Guide

Today’s post comes from Madeline McNabb, a 2017 Discovery Guide at White Lake Provincial Park

We all dream of turning our passion into a job.

My chance came this past summer when I worked at White Lake Provincial Park as a Discovery Guide.

The Discovery Program is a new program focusing on inspiring curiosity in park visitors and encouraging exploration of our natural environment. I made so many amazing memories this past summer. There are too many wonderful things I want to share!

After much deliberation, I have narrowed it down to five top reasons why I loved being a Discovery Guide:

NHE snake program

1. The multitude of topics to explore

Did you know that all toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads? Toads are actually a type of frog! Before this summer, I didn’t know that. I learned tons of fun facts like this one because of the wide range of topics in the program.

There were 12 different program topics in 2017. These ranged from insects to mammals, geology to citizen science. There was more than enough to choose from when making a program schedule!

I found that even though I thought I knew a lot about the different topics, I was still always learning. Being a Discovery Guide helped me realize it’s always good to get outdoors and explore, no matter how old you are!

2. Using my creativity

There were many ways I was able to let my creativity shine through my role as a Discovery Guide.

Whether I was setting up the discovery table or choosing activities for visitors, there was always something there to keep me thinking outside the box.

Discovery Program signs

My favourite drop-in session was Art in the Park. During this session, I learned about the Group of Seven and helped visitors make their own beautiful pieces of nature-inspired art. Families loved gathering stray leaves and pine cones for leaf rubbings and twig frames.

3. Being outside everyday

If you love nature, then you’re in luck. Being a Discovery Guide means spending your whole summer outdoors!

During my sessions, I spent time talking to people in the park and helping kids explore the nature and wildlife around them.

Close up of hands and frog

When no one was around, I did my own insect catching and identification, and took photos of the beautiful scenery. I brushed up on my plant identification skills and listened for the calls of our feathered friends.

4. Support from my coworkers

I may have been the sole Discovery Guide at White Lake this season, but I never felt alone.

I received an abundance of help and support. The Discovery Coordinator was always there to help me, and park staff were very helpful!

Park staff kneeling with a fish in a tank

The gate attendants were quick to recommend drop-in sessions to incoming guests, and management took the time to provide me with background knowledge and support. The maintenance staff also helped me set up.

The best thing about my job was that even though we each had different responsibilities, we all worked together for a common goal: to ensure our park was as healthy as it could be so that everyone could enjoy it.

5. Interacting with youth

Families mostly attended my sessions, so I spent a lot of time with kids.

Sometimes kids would find something really cool like a feather or ant hill, and then explain it to their parents or younger siblings. I loved seeing their faces light up because of nature!

Child using binoculars

One of my fondest memories is a little girl coming up to me to show me a toad she had found. We talked about all the neat critters that call White Lake home.

The fact that she continued to explore the surrounding area even after the drop-in session was over made me feel like I succeeded in inspiring someone to explore and love nature.

Overall, I am a huge fan of the Discovery Program. It has something for everyone! Whether you are interested in amphibians or trees, there’s a Discovery drop-in for you.

The Discovery Pledge

I pledge to:

  • Explore parks big and small
  • Observe plants and animals
  • Discover the wonders of nature

Will you take the pledge?

Want to be a Discovery Guide this summer?

NHE leader with children at Bronte Creek

Apply to our Student – Park Ranger posting, and select “Natural Heritage Education Assistant” when asked which type of position you’d prefer.