Women in conservation: Gayle Roodman
In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re celebrating six female staff members at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) who are working to create a stronger future for Canada’s landscapes.
Born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, Gayle Roodman has lived in many cities across Canada as an adult. As NCC’s manager of editorial services, Gayle is a gatekeeper of the proper use of language in NCC’s communications, helping to bring great stories to light and sharing the message of conservation with the public.
Read my conversation with Gayle below:
Wendy Ho (WH): Where did you go to school and what did you study?
Gayle Roodman (GR): I initially started post-secondary with a one-year stint in laboratory science at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now Ryerson University), with the hopes of getting my degree and going on to medical school. Those dreams were quickly dashed, so I switched trajectories and did a two-year marketing diploma at Humber College.
WH: How has nature impacted your life?
GR: It’s always been a huge part of my life. When I was a kid, my parents had a very rustic cottage, without electricity and running water, on a small lake in Quebec and most of our summers were spent there. After breakfast, we were set free for the day to explore the forest and came back for dinner when it got dark. To this day, decades later, the smell of trees and earth and loam take me back to the best summers of my life. “Go outside and get some fresh air” were words my parents said (or yelled) to my brother and me on a daily basis, which instilled in me a life-long need and desire to be in nature, exploring.
WH: What work/volunteer experience do you bring to NCC?
GR: I spent five years as an Outward Bound instructor in northern Ontario, providing experiential learning in the outdoors to teenagers and adults. During that time, I ate a lot of GORP (good old raisins and peanuts) and swatted a lot of mosquitoes, deerflies, horseflies and blackflies, but more importantly, witnessed the remarkable transformation that nature, resilience and self-reliance had on students.
Most of my working life outside of Outward Bound has been in advertising, marketing and communications. Prior to NCC, I worked for the Organizing Committees for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games and Toronto 2015 Invictus Games.
It has been a massive and very steep learning curve working at NCC. My head is full of factoids, with which I have been known to astound my friends and husband.
WH: Why is working at NCC important to you?
GR: NCC does extremely important work. While I’m not a conservation scientist or biologist and don’t directly help NCC conserve habitat, I’m part of the team that communicates NCC’s work. If I can be a part of getting the message out that we need to conserve more land faster and if I can help inspire Canadians to get out into nature, then I’m a happy camper.
WH: What career advice would you give your younger self, if you could?
GR: Find work that you’re passionate about. If you don’t yet know what you’re passionate about, spend some time volunteering, or travelling, or talking to people. There’s no rush to nail down your career the minute you finish high school. And there’s nothing wrong with switching careers over the course of your life. As Mark Twain said, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”