submitted by Nancy Clement, Partnering, Engagement and Communications Officer, PEI Field Unit, Parks Canada.
This is the first in a series of interviews with “Parkies” (Parks Canada employees) working on PEI.
Meet Donna Barnes, Heritage Presenter, Parks Canada
What led you to apply for a position at Parks Canada in the first place?
I was a Veterinary Technician for 39 years. Twenty-eight of those years were spent at the Atlantic Veterinary College, where we were responsible for teaching Veterinary students their clinical skills and necessary client communication skills. My passion has always been animals. My dad was a lobster fisherman, and animals have been my obsession since an early age. When I was four years old, my mother caught me trying to save mackerel in the bathtub!
When I retired from the Veterinary College, I still felt that I had ideas and things to offer to the workforce. Our son Philip had worked for Parks Canada as a student, and he gave me the idea. He said that I would most likely enjoy being a Heritage Presenter because of my communication coaching background and that the Parks Canada mandate ties into saving ecosystems and species at risk.
I grew up on PEI and I am very proud of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s contribution to tourism on the Island. I applied to Parks Canada in 2015 and did not get in that year, but I persevered and applied again in 2016 with the help of Career Development Services and was successful in obtaining a position.
How has your experience been with Parks Canada?
My first year was an amazing learning curve of a journey with wonderful support from my supervisors.
We were given lots of research materials to read and study and I received excellent guidance from staff who had been here for years.
I have worked mainly as a Heritage Presenter delivering programs and guided tours. I also had a chance to be the supervisor of the interpretation team for a short while.
Through the natural evolution of the guidance I received, I have become an unofficial mentor to new staff as well. I also have become quite interested in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s journals.
Are there any challenges? And how have you overcome these?
I honestly have not had many challenges here. It is very enjoyable work, and every day I feed off the energy of visitors who are thrilled to be at Green Gables and PEI National Park. If I do have the odd issue, the supervisors are very supportive and always help to come up with solutions.
What is the best thing about working for Parks Canada?
The emotions that visitors bring to the site and hearing their personal stories is quite heartwarming. One day this young lady from Iran came to visit Green Gables Heritage Place with her dad and when she entered the house, she burst out crying. She said that she and her sister used to sneak down the stairs in Iran and watch Anne of Green Gables at midnight while their parents were sleeping. She couldn’t believe she was here, and when her dad saw her crying, he started to cry, and as a result I teared up. It means so much to so many people to come to Green Gables.
Working outside in Cavendish and Dalvay is very healthy and invigorating as well.
Would you encourage a friend to apply at Parks Canada, and if so, why?
I always encourage people to make sure they give their English-speaking children access to learning French. Being bilingual is a great opportunity for young people to get good jobs with Parks Canada, although there are also lots of jobs here that don’t require French. It was a great transition for me as I grew up French Acadian.
I made a huge career change and I have loved every minute of it. I never thought I could be as passionate about this job as I was about veterinary medicine, but it has opened my eyes to another avenue of dealing with people which I love doing, and also indirectly helping animals through education about species at risk and our beautiful ecosystems.
To search for current job openings with Parks Canada, visit https://parks.canada.ca/agence-agency/emplois-jobs
For more information about applying to Parks Canada, contact Human Resources, Parks Canada PEI, at [email protected]
EMPLOYMENT OPEN HOUSE
Drop by Parks Canada Employment Open Houses on February 1 (4 – 8 pm) or February 2 (9 am – 4 pm) at Ardgowan National Heritage Site (2 Palmers Lane, Charlottetown) to find out more!
They will be on hand to help answer questions about employment opportunities with Parks Canada in PEI and offer assistance with completing application forms.
If you have a current résumé, bring it along! Open to anyone seeking seasonal employment, including youth and students.
Deadline to apply is Friday, February 10.