Meet the Team: Taylor Maton, Conservation Outreach Coordinator

October 15, 2020
By: admin

Meet the Team: Taylor Maton Conservation Outreach Coordinator

Published [post_published]
Sarah Nason

In this blog series we will be profiling each member of our team at CPAWS Northern Alberta to help our audience get to know us better! This post introduces Taylor Maton, our Conservation Outreach Coordinator, who is our superstar for organizing community events, working with our wonderful volunteers, and engaging and empowering our followers to take conservation action.

Meet the Team: Taylor Maton, Conservation Outreach Coordinator

What is your background (education, experience, where you grew up/where you’ve lived)?

I grew up in Grande Prairie, Alberta, surrounded by prairie landscape. After completing high school, I moved to Edmonton to begin studying at the University of Alberta. I knew from the get-go I wanted to pursue biological sciences, but within that realm I didn’t know exactly where I’d fall. In my second semester of my first year, I took an introduction to ecology course and I was hooked. Fascinated by the interconnectedness of systems and evolution, I quickly began to fill my schedule with courses like Global Change and Ecosystems, Marine Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

In the last semester of my undergraduate degree, I decided to pursue research and enrolled into the Marine Terrestrial Interactions field course offered at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre (BMSC). The Bamfield Marine Science Centre is a world-class education and research facility located on the outer west coast of Vancouver Island. BMSC is a shared campus of the University of Victoria, the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, the University of Alberta, and the University of Calgary.

The course allowed me to explore the west coast and gain experience conducting field work on beaches, in freshwater streams, old-growth forests and coastal ecosystems. As a final requirement, I had the opportunity to conduct an independent research project that explored the abundance of red rock crabs in coastal ecosystems. Over the two days that we did our fieldwork we caught over one hundred of these feisty critters – some of which made it to our plates. This experience was the highlight of my undergraduate degree, and a good seed for my pursuit of a career in environmental science.

Meet the Team: Taylor Maton, Conservation Outreach Coordinator
Meet the Team: Taylor Maton, Conservation Outreach Coordinator

During Taylor’s undergraduate degree, she conducted an independent research project at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre (BMSC), located on Vancouver Island. Her research explored how nutrients flow between land and ocean ecosystems, and how this flow affects red rock crab (Cancer productus) abundance and size. During the two days of fieldwork, Taylor’s team caught over one hundred red rock crabs, pulling the industrial-sized crab traps up by hand. It was quite a workout!

In 2019, I had the opportunity to participate in Ocean Bridge, a program that works to connect 40 youth from across the country to make a difference towards ocean and waterway conservation. This national team is engaged in co-creating and delivering service projects in their home communities to promote ocean and waterway literacy. 

I lived by the Sturgeon River in St. Albert for four years, and there is an incredible amount of wildlife that live in the area. To promote waterway conservation in my home community, I organized a shoreline clean-up of the river. Within a few hours, our team filled four large garbage bags of plastic waste – everything from cigarette butts, food wrappers, frisbees, baseballs and a computer keyboard. It is important to create awareness that this is a hotspot for biodiversity in the region, and we must keep the river clean as waste and plastic can easily compromise the health of that system. 

I think because the ocean doesn’t touch our borders here in the province, it can be easily forgotten – out of sight, out of mind. It is important to be aware that the carbon we emit and the plastic we dispose of here goes beyond our local streams and major rivers. Conservation doesn’t end at the border; our land, freshwater water and ocean systems are all interconnected.

In 2019, Taylor volunteered with Ocean Bridge, a program that works to connect Canadian youth from coast to coast, empowering them to make a difference towards ocean and waterway conservation.
In 2019, Taylor volunteered with Ocean Bridge, a program that works to connect Canadian youth from coast to coast, empowering them to make a difference towards ocean and waterway conservation.

After my year of volunteering, I felt a sense of responsibility to continue advocating for the health of Alberta’s land and water. I think because the ocean doesn’t touch our borders here in the province, it can be easily forgotten – out of sight, out of mind. It is important to be aware that the carbon we emit and the plastic we dispose of here goes beyond our local streams and major rivers. Conservation doesn’t end at the border; our land, freshwater water and ocean systems are all interconnected. This can be challenging to communicate, but it is essential to bring this message to Alberta. 

How did you get started working with CPAWS?

It was actually through my volunteer position with Ocean Bridge. I was looking into local organizations that were focusing on waterway conservation, and I came across CPAWS Northern Alberta, who was working on the “Love Your Headwaters” campaign. At the time, they also had a job position open for their Conservation Outreach Coordinator for the summer. I applied, ended up snagging an interview, and then unfortunately got the call a few days later that I had not received the position. I was disappointed, but I tried to keep my chin up.

Then, a few weeks later, I ended up getting a call from CPAWS Northern Alberta. It so happened that they were able to offer me a different part-time position running our Elk Island Parkbus program. Their offer was for me to hop on a bus twice a week with 40 other people, head out to Elk Island National Park and show them around. I was ecstatic to say the least!

Working with Parkbus, I had the opportunity to engage with students, seniors, tourists and new Canadian families. Visitors had the opportunity to view herds of plains and wood bison, learn about their conservation story, and enjoy the natural beauty that the park has to offer. 

I am grateful I was able to work with Parkbus and CPAWS Northern Alberta to facilitate a program that connects people to nature. Increasing accessibility to parks will not only allow us to foster a greater appreciation for nature, but hopefully increase our willingness to protect it.

As the Elk Island CPAWS Parkbus Ambassador during the summer of 2019, herds of plains and wood bison were a regular sight! For the whole summer Taylor was able to guide people around Elk Island, and watch so many new Canadians, travelers and locals enjoy nature and have access to our parks.
As the Elk Island CPAWS Parkbus Ambassador during the summer of 2019, herds of plains and wood bison were a regular sight! For the whole summer Taylor was able to guide people around Elk Island, and watch so many new Canadians, travelers and locals enjoy nature and have access to our parks.

After the Parkbus program ended I continued to volunteer with CPAWS, assisting in the office with social media posts and administrative work. When the position of Conservation Outreach Coordinator opened, it was offered to me and I eagerly agreed to start. 

When working in conservation, I feel that putting in work into your local community or the surrounding communities really does have an impact, and that work is amplified to a global level.

What motivated you to get into conservation work?

There are so many motivating factors for me. My biggest motivator would be to protect the spaces in Alberta that I’ve grown up in and care for so deeply. From the boreal forest, to the prairie grasslands, to the foothills and rocky mountains – the natural beauty of this province never ceases to amaze me. 

I’ve also found immense support in the community. Some of my most cherished memories have been from days doing field work at BMSC, laughing around a fire with colleagues, and chatting with volunteers at outreach events. I know that my experience learning and working in this field has been made so memorable from the wonderful people I have met along the way. 

I am also motivated to work in conservation because I see it result in real on-the-ground change. Watching new parks become established, decisions be reversed, or a child stare in awe at a bison at Elk Island National Park – I feel as though the work I am doing is making a real difference. When working in conservation, I feel that putting in work into your local community or the surrounding communities really does have an impact, and that work is amplified to a global level.

Enjoying the view from Sulphur Skyline in Jasper National Park.
Enjoying the view from Sulphur Skyline in Jasper National Park.

What’s the day-to-day like in your role with CPAWS NAB?

As Conservation Outreach Coordinator, my primary role is to run our volunteer programs. I work to coordinate our casual volunteers, who are always out in the community at various outreach events and presentations. I also support the work of our Communications, Engagement and Fund Development Committees. These groups work to increase the capacity of CPAWS Northern Alberta, and are vital to our success as an organization. 

During the past few months, my work has focused on the Defend Alberta Parks campaign. This has included many projects, like Mapping Memories, the Art for Alberta Parks project, and now the Defend Alberta Parks lawn sign campaign in collaboration with the Alberta Environmental Network. I am inspired by the incredible amount of support each of these projects has received from Albertans across the province. I am hoping that this will be enough to reverse the decision to remove 175 parks from the Alberta Parks system, and ensure that they remain public and protected for generations to come. 

What’s your favourite part of the role you have now?

My favourite part of my role with CPAWS Northern Alberta is the people I get to work with, including the staff and volunteers. I am grateful to have the opportunity to learn from so many passionate individuals who dedicate their time to wilderness protection here in Alberta.  Working in conservation can feel like an uphill battle, so having a supportive network to help you keep pushing against the grain is really important.

I think I always feel most at peace on the water. There is so much life there and it’s where I really feel at home.

What is one of your favourite Alberta species?

I would have to say the bumblebee. Buzzing from flower to flower, they appear to play a small role. But in the grand scheme, the bumblebee has a huge impact on the health of the ecosystem.

They’re also fuzzy, yellow and they dance, so you can’t really go wrong there.

Kayaking in Hurkett Cove Conservation Area, Lake Superior, Ontario. As part of the Ocean Bridge program, Taylor helped to collect water samples for an environmental assessment of the Hurkett Cove Conservation Area.
Kayaking in Hurkett Cove Conservation Area, Lake Superior, Ontario. As part of the Ocean Bridge program, Taylor helped to collect water samples for an environmental assessment of the Hurkett Cove Conservation Area.

Where is one of your favourite places to get outside in Alberta?

I am not sure I can pin it down to once place, but I am always drawn to the water. I feel most at peace there – whether I am fishing, whitewater rafting on the Kananaskis or popping my canoe on the Sturgeon River in St. Albert. I think I always feel most at peace on the water. There is so much life there and it’s where I really feel at home. You get a good vantage point of the natural world that we are surrounded by everyday.

In her spare time, Taylor creates wonderful ink artwork of aquatic species! Pictured above is a sturgeon and an in-progress red rock crab.
In her spare time, Taylor creates wonderful ink artwork of aquatic species! Pictured above is a sturgeon and an in-progress red rock crab.

When you are not doing conservation work or outdoorsy things, what else do you like to do?

When I’m not outdoors, I’m probably drawing a fish, baking bread or oatmeal cookies, or tending to my balcony garden. Usually, there is an episode of Planet Earth running in the background.

To learn more about Taylor’s work, visit:

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