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Nicolas Wentzell

A Passion for his Environment

By: Michelle Thompson

A passion for conservation and dedication to community service has earned Nicolas Wentzell the 2016 IMPACT Award for Environmental Leadership, presented during the annual awards ceremony on April 4th on the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus.

This award recognizes a student for their commitment to providing leadership through creating and maintaining a sustainable environment through campus activities and in the community.

Nicolas is well known on campus for his dedication to community work through volunteer fire fighting and his work with Ducks Unlimited. 

“I feel great about receiving this award. My dedication to community work through being a volunteer firefighter and being a part of the Colchester Committee and Volunteer with Ducks Unlimited (DUC) and the fact that I’m continuing my education in the field after graduation will only further my passion for conservation.”

(Photo: Johanna Matthews)

Nicolas’ experience growing up in rural areas and experiencing human and wildlife conflicts inspired his dedication for working in conservation. “I had never seen coyotes, racoons, foxes, or skunks when I was a child until recent years. I’ve come to realize that it’s due to development and that they were there all along, you could just never see them because they were still able to avoid us.”

“Nicolas has been a dedicated volunteer and has promoted the Ducks Unlimited education and volunteer programs to his peers,” explained Monica Sani, Student Success Coordinator.  “He is a great role model to other students and is known for his genuine friendship, caring and concern for others.”

His treasured volunteering days at the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (CWRC) showed Nicolas first-hand the affects of human activities. “A large per cent of injured birds and other small wildlife is caused by outdoor cats,” he explained.  “Lead poisoning from lead base fishing gear and hunting gear are just a few of the examples of the kinds of injuries treated at the CWRC.”

The CWRC was founded in 2001 by alumnus Helene Van Doninck and her husband Murdo Messer. The rehabilitation centre for wildlife is run entirely by volunteers in the community and they work to rehabilitate and care for animals who come through the centre, with the goal of releasing all back into the wild.

His participation in the Scouts Program at an early age also had a significant role in his passion. “At the time, we did camping, hiking, tree planting and lessons about wildlife and plant species of the area. My passion just grew over time, reading about field guides and watching nature shows.”

After graduating from the Faculty of Agriculture with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Animal Science and minoring in Environmental Science, Nicolas will be attending the Maritime College of Forest Technology in New Brunswick in the fall. “I like to keep opportunities open for different experiences. It may lead me to different areas in the field of conservation.”

Growing up with a family history of volunteer firefighters inspired Nicolas to continue the tradition. “I started out as a Jr. Firefighter at the age of 14, going to calls and practices. This makes me the fourth generation in my family to be a volunteer firefighter in Riverport fire department.”

“When I take the time and reflect, the meaning of my time at the AC is the many people that I have come to know and a new cultural environment. It wouldn’t have happened if I stayed in Riverport or attended a different university.”

A few of Nicolas’ most treasured moments include “meeting new people from the many activities that I had taken part in. From being on the cross country team for my five-years here, to being in the SAIL program. I treasure looking after wildlife at CWRC and practices with the fire department.”

A message for future grads, “there will always be opportunities for you. It takes some hard work to get there. Never close a door on an opportunity.”