2 kayaks in the water at Rondeau Provincial Park on a clear day

From schooling to teaching at Rondeau

Today’s post comes from Kevin Gevaert, a Discovery Guide at Rondeau Provincial Park.

I am a student Discovery Guide here at Rondeau Provincial Park. This will be my fourth year as an interpreter in the Discovery Program.

Let me tell you about my journey in parks.

A little about myself

Currently, I study at Fleming College in Lindsay, Ontario. The course I have taken for the Fish & Wildlife Technology program has greatly benefited me, especially working here at Rondeau.

This program has given me the skills I needed to assist with the research and identification portions of the job.

It also fostered a passion to share the knowledge I have about the wildlife found here!

Getting used to the crowds

Being a part of the Discovery team continues to allow me to grow my skills. I was pretty comfortable with the wildlife portion of the job, after all, it is what I study. However running programs and the crowds that came with them were a different story.

Little girl looks at snake at Discovery Program

During my first year, it was pretty nerve-wracking to talk in front of a crowd. I was not very comfortable talking in front of large groups of people. The first program I ever created at Rondeau was a Children’s Program on turtles, and was I ever nervous to deliver it!

It took a few programs before I settled in. After the third or fourth time running the program, the nerves started to subside and programming became easier, and so did talking to visitors. I had finally found my rhythm.

As the years went by, I created multiple programs that showcased my knowledge and passion for species within the park. My “Fish Frenzy” meet the Naturalist program where anyone from the public could drop in was my favourite to run.

During this program, I would take the time to explain what native and non- native fish species were found in Rondeau Bay. I also created a dark sky star hike which took a lot of research and learning to create. Something I know I can take with me back to school and beyond!

Taking schooling to the field

The Fish & Wildlife program at Fleming College is a very demanding, hands-on, course that has taught me several valuable lessons and skills related to the ecology and environment of Ontario.

The best part about the job is that I have been able to take these lessons into the field with me here at Rondeau.

A big component of the learning is ensuring that your identification skills are top-notch. Plants, trees, shrubs, visual and audio identification of birds, and game fish identification are just some of the things you need to be able to identify. Having this knowledge has come in handy out in the field.

I am constantly learning new things about topics I am passionate about whether I’m at school or work.

Every day is a new adventure

I love working at Rondeau because every day here is different. There are so many unique ecosystems and such a variety of species in Rondeau Provincial Park.

Many of them are sensitive habitats and species at risk. Seeing these species daily is just one of the reasons why I love coming into work every day.

Always end up back here

Hand holding cmall snakeWorking as part of the Discovery team seemed inevitable looking back. When I was in high school, as part of my co-op, I worked with the snake research team here.

It was my first real taste of working out in the field and it gave me a wonderful experience working with some incredible snake species.

Thinking about it now, I can see myself continuing on the interpretation path as a future career. I enjoy sharing my knowledge with others, working and being outside, and working in a hands-on environment.

Very grateful

Every year I am amazed. The Discovery Program continues to provide me with excellent opportunities to develop a variety of skills. All of which I know will help me grow in the future.

The Discovery Program in Ontario Parks has created a pathway for me that will likely last a lifetime, one that benefits my education, and provides me with one incredible summer job.

Cheers, and I look forward to seeing you at my next program!