Executive director of Waskasoo Environmental Education Society retires

When Jim Robertson arrived in Red Deer in 1985 from Lake Louise, he noticed the local population wasn’t too plugged into environmental matters.

When Jim Robertson arrived in Red Deer in 1985 from Lake Louise, he noticed the local population wasn’t too plugged into environmental matters.

Three decades later, as Robertson is about to retire from his job as executive director of the Waskasoo Environmental Education Society, he’s noticed there’s been a giant leap forward in public perception about sustainable energy, alternative transportation, recycling and climate change.

While most of this comes from a growing global movement towards better environmental awareness, Robertson hopes his oversight of the Waskasoo Park Interpretive Program also played a small part in raising understanding in the Red Deer area.

Over the years, Robinson heard many adults say that they’ve learned as much as their children from the Nature Nursery, or other programs aimed at school groups, scouts, guides and various other youth organizations.

“Parents have told us there was a lot of two-way learning,” as their kids shared the information they’d discovered at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre or Gaetz Lake Sanctuary, he said.

When Robertson started his job in Red Deer, the nature centre was just starting to be developed. Robertson helped plan the original display space, as well as an interpretive program for Red Deer’s then-new Waskasoo urban park system.

Last year, the nature centre was renovated and a new museum display was installed. A nature playground was also added, as well as the Harmony Garden music park, built with the help of the Kiwanis Club and Twilight Homes Foundation.

Robertson feels the centre has come full circle, and it’s now a good time to step aside “and let someone with more youthful energy take over.”

Todd Nivens, program co-ordinator for the Waskasoo Environmental Education Society, will be moving into his position after Robertson’s retirement next week.

Robertson recalled a controlled burn was done at the centre several years ago to encourage the growth of native grasses instead of the vestiges of hay and other cultivated crops that grew there. He believes more controlled burns will likely be necessary to fully regenerate native vegetation, but “that’ll be up to Todd when he takes over.”

He considers his work for the non-profit Waskasoo Environmental Education Society, which manages the nature centre, sanctuary, Fort Normandeau and the city-wide Waskasoo Parks program, as very fulfilling.

“I was supposed to come here for five years, but my wife and I found this a very good town to raise a family.”

With two grown children, Robertson plans to do some travelling with his spouse, as well as trying his hand at building a canoe and refurbishing an antique sleigh.

Meanwhile, a come-and-go celebration for Robertson will be held from 3-5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2 at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. Everyone is invited “to join…in wishing him the best in steps toward his next adventure.”

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Samantha Sharpe, 25, was stabbed to death at Sunchild First Nation on Dec. 12, 2018. Chelsey Lagrelle was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for manslaughter in a Red Deer courtroom on Tuesday. Photo contributed
Central Alberta woman sentenced to 4 1/2 years for stabbing friend to death in 2018

Chelsey Lagrelle earlier pleaded guilty to stabbing Samantha Sharpe during argument

Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans need to keep making safe choices to start bending the curve back down. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, 257 additional cases province-wide

Red Deer sits at 459 active cases of the virus

Olds College logo
Olds College to host free, online agriculture celebration next month

Olds College will host a free live-streamed agriculture event next month. The… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services Logo
AHS upgrading online immunization booking tool

Alberta Health Services’ online booking tool for COVID-19 immunizations will be temporarily… Continue reading

Eric Rajah and Brian Leavitt were awarded with Meritorious Service Medals by the Governor General for co-founding the Lacombe-based charity A Better World. The agency’s goal is to reduce poverty and boost education in Africa and Afghanistan. (Contributed photo)
Co-founders of Lacombe-based charity receive one of Canada’s highest honours

Eric Rajah, Brian Leavitt of A Better World are honoured by the Governor General

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2020, file photo, FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a virtual news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington. Wray is set to testify for the first time since the deadly Jan. 6 deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol. (Sarah Silbiger/Pool via AP)
FBI chief warns violent ‘domestic terrorism’ growing in US

FBI chief warns violent ‘domestic terrorism’ growing in US

In this image from KYMA law enforcement work at the scene of a deadly crash involving a semitruck and an SUV in Holtville, Calif., on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (KYMA via AP)
California crash kills 13 of 25 people crammed into SUV

California crash kills 13 of 25 people crammed into SUV

FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 file photo, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny gestures as he stands behind a grass of the cage in the Babuskinsky District Court in Moscow, Russia. Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was transported to a prison 100km away from Moscow. Navalny was taken to a prison in Pokrov city after Moscow city court rejected appeal against his prison sentence on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
US sanctions Russian officials over nerve-agent attack

US sanctions Russian officials over nerve-agent attack

Neera Tanden, President Joe Biden's nominee for Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), appears beofre a Senate Committee on the Budget hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
Budget nominee Tanden withdraws nomination amid opposition

Budget nominee Tanden withdraws nomination amid opposition

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa on February 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Unanimous committee report calls on Trudeau not to trigger election during pandemic

Unanimous committee report calls on Trudeau not to trigger election during pandemic

Jahmil French arrives on the red carpet at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on March 11, 2018. Canadian actor Jahmil French of "Degrassi: The Next Generation" fame has died. His agent, Gabrielle Kachman, confirmed the news to The Canadian Press through a statement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Canadian actor Jahmil French of ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’ has died, says agent

Canadian actor Jahmil French of ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’ has died, says agent

FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2005 file photo, Bunny Wailer performs at the One Love concert to celebrate Bob Marley's 60th birthday, in Kingston, Jamaica. Wailer, a reggae luminary who was the last surviving member of the legendary group The Wailers, died on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in his native Jamaica, according to his manager. He was 73. (AP Photo/Collin Reid, File)
Bunny Wailer, reggae luminary and last Wailers member, dies

Bunny Wailer, reggae luminary and last Wailers member, dies

Eddie Murphy, left, and Arsenio Hall appear in a scene from "Coming 2 America." (Quantrell D. Colbert/Paramount Pictures via AP)
33 years later, Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall return to Zamunda

33 years later, Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall return to Zamunda

Most Read