Women in conservation: Helen Kim
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 in Seoul, South Korea, and growing up in both Seoul and Hong Kong, Helen Kim was closely connected with the mountains and outdoors throughout her childhood. Helen’s father had a deep love for hiking and would trek up the mountains year round, even taking his children up steep slopes at a tender age. Hong Kong’s hilly to mountainous terrain and its many offshore islands presented opportunities for exploring and learning about nature and camping at a young age.
After graduating from university, Helen worked as a money market dealer at a British bank, and travelled to many places before settling in Canada because of its majestic landscapes. Helen eventually joined NCC as a development assistant. And since 2007, as a manager of gift and database administration in the finance department, Helen oversees many aspects of NCC’s gift acceptance, revenue processing and issuance of tax receipting, but still loves to interact with donors and talk about the conservation achievements thanks to their support.
Read my interview with Helen below:
Wendy Ho (WH): Where did you go to school and what did you study?
Helen Kim (HK): I went to university in Seoul and majored in English language and literature.
WH: How has nature impacted your life?
HK: One of the reasons I came to Canada in 1988 was the mountains of Alberta and British Columbia. It was ironic, though, as I only went to the Rockies in Alberta in 2015 and to BC just this past January!
We all have responsibilities to conserve the landscapes of our beautiful country and I know there’s a chance we might not keep them pristine forever, but at least we should do our best to delay the deterioration.
Ever since my girls were young, we’ve vacationed in the Sauble Beach and Bruce Peninsula areas, camping or staying at cottages, and we went hiking and bird watching. I believe those experiences have fostered a love and appreciation for nature in my family. Now my grown up daughters lead and introduce me to green spaces in Ontario and British Columbia. Nature has taught me to be grateful for what it offers us. I always take time to visit conservation areas, provincial parks and national parks on my time off.
WH: What work/volunteer experience do you bring to NCC?
HK: Before moving to Canada, I worked in the finance sector for many years, and these experiences helped me adapt well into a role with NCC. When I am not volunteering with NCC’s events, I volunteer as an interpreter and participate in the compliance/governance area in the Korean Canadian community.
WH: Why is working at NCC important to you?
HK: I have learned so much since I started working at NCC. Colleagues have taught me to take note of different trees, leaves, listen to birds sing, smell the air, walk on different soils and much more.
I see the difference and results from hard working and committed colleagues and a community that wishes to see more of Canada’s landscapes conserved. I believe NCC has established itself as a trustworthy and accountable group. NCC is patient and looks for longer-term impacts for future generations, urging Canadians to act now. I am proud to be part of this great team.
WH: What advice would you give your younger self, if you could?
HK: Explore Canada as much as you can. We Canadians are blessed with the most beautiful landscapes, including open prairies, majestic mountains, forested valleys, beautiful rivers and lakes, from coast to coast to coast. Exploring our country will open your eyes and help you become a humble human being.
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