Flowers in sunrise

A journey from the heart of Pinery to school outreach coordinator

Today’s blog was written by Almeera Ahmed, School Outreach Coordinator with the Discovery program.

Born and raised in the urban landscape of Brampton, Ontario, my childhood was far from the serene wilderness that would later define my career path.

Growing up, my encounters with wildlife were confined to the captivating narratives of wildlife documentaries.

However, this exposure was enough to ignite a flame of curiosity and passion for the natural world, propelling me towards a career in the environmental field.

Diving in

My journey truly began when an incredible opportunity arose at Pinery Provincial Park during the first year of my undergraduate degree. Despite my lack of hands-on experience, the passion I held for conservation and wildlife was undeniable.

Ontario Parks recognized this passion and offered me a chance to embark on an adventure I could only dream of.

staff holding snapping turtle

It was an unconventional start; they took a chance on someone whose only interaction with nature had been through a screen. But it was this very passion that became my gateway to the vibrant world of conservation.

At Pinery, I dove headfirst into a world teeming with diverse species and ecosystems.

Surrounded by experts and enthusiasts, I learned on the go—conducting surveys, handling wildlife, and communicating the park’s wonders to visitors.

It was a journey of discovery, not just of the wildlife, but of my own capabilities and the boundless potential hidden within me.

After completing my undergrad studies at the University of Guelph, I ventured into a captivating academic journey at the University of New Brunswick for my masters degree.

These years were a profound exploration into the intricate tapestry of zoology and biology.

Armed with newfound knowledge and a deeper understanding of ecosystems, I returned to Ontario Parks, carrying with me not just a degree, but a renewed sense of purpose.

How far I’ve come

Today, as a school outreach coordinator with Ontario Parks, I stand as a living testament to the fact that with unwavering passion, dedication, and the right opportunities, even the most unexpected individuals can carve their path into the heart of conservation.

staff in front of green screen

This journey has come full circle for me—from experiencing nature on a screen to now being a school outreach coordinator, delivering virtual programs that connect people to the wonders of the natural world.

staff sitting around equipment, writing on paper

It’s poetic how my early interactions with nature have shaped my role today.

As I share the beauty of our environment through virtual programs, I’ve transitioned from being an observer to actively creating digital connections to nature.

This evolution not only reflects my personal growth, but underscores the significance of embracing technology for education and outreach.

Through these virtual engagements, I’m reliving the impactful moments I experienced in parks, now creating similar experiences for others.

Finding yourself

From those humble beginnings in an urban landscape to the depths of Ontario’s natural treasures, my journey has been a testament to the transformative power of passion and determination.

Ontario Parks offers more than just a job — it’s a gateway to a world where dreams of safeguarding our environment come true.

Join us in this remarkable journey where passion meets purpose, and every day is an opportunity to contribute to the legacy of preserving our natural heritage.

If you or someone you know wants to learn more about working in parks in a variety of roles, book a virtual chat session with one of our knowledgeable staff. We are here to answer your questions and share our personal experiences with you.

Learn more about jobs with Ontario Parks and how to apply on our careers page

Why are your scientists picking up wildlife? Can I pick up snakes and turtles too?

Please do not handle birds, mammals, or reptiles unless you are helping to safely move them off the road or engaging with park staff. The staff members featured are trained biologists engaged in professional research. These biologists are following a strict animal care protocol approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. These protocols review the desired outcome of the research, and ensure measures are taken to put the least possible amount of stress on the animal. We ask that you always observe animals from a distance for both the safety of you and the animal.