July 20, 2018
This Saturday, July 21st is Canada's Parks Day. We're celebrating the Irving Nature Park in Saint John and the Irving Eco-Centre: La Dune de Bouctouche by asking our interpreters and park staff to share what they love most about where they work.
Nature parks like these bring great value to Canada and New Brunswick – providing havens for wildlife, spaces for people to get away from the busyness of everyday life and a place where people can learn about and interact with nature.
However, it’s the staff of our JDI nature parks that truly bring them to life – helping visitors get the best out of their park experience. These are the people leading tours, passing on their knowledge of the best spots to visit, and sharing a passion for nature and the outdoors with those that come to explore and learn.
Here’s what the staff of the Irving Nature Park and the Irving Eco-Centre: La Dune de Bouctouche had to say.
Irving Nature Park – Saint John, New Brunswick
Located minutes from downtown Saint John, the Irving Nature Park provides a place for people to experience the various ecosystems of the Southern New Brunswick coastline.
The 600 acre (243 hectare) site was created by J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI) in 1992 to help protect an environmentally significant area. It provides habitat for 250 species of migrant birds, boasts 11 km of rugged Bay of Fundy coastline, and has 8 walking trails for visitors to explore.
Free, interactive, environmental education programs offered at the park help people of all ages connect with the environment and learn more about nature. Every year the park hosts around 40 public events, and over 100 school group visits take place each year in spring and early summer.
The Irving Nature Park continues to be recognized by Trip Advisor as a Top Attraction in Saint John, and has also been recognized by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute as part of J.D. Irving, Limited's commitment to protecting coastal and aquatic habitat.
In 2016, the park celebrated a milestone of 5 million visitors since its opening in 1992. The number of visitors is now over 5.5 million.
Katie Breneol – Park Site Manager
“My favourite part of the Irving Nature Park is the Chickadee Trail. This is an old growth forest with some amazing nooks and crannies, little tiny caves, really cool root formations, and beautiful scenery.
My favourite thing about working here at the Irving Nature Park is the opportunity to teach young people about the environment and show them how to appreciate all the flora and fauna here at the park.”
Isaac McLellan – Park Interpreter
“My favourite place at the Irving Nature Park is the Gorge Rocks. It’s a really great inter-tidal zone where you can get a really good view of a lot of types of seaweed, tidal pools, and the differences between the two tides.
I love coming in to work every day, because I get to meet a lot of great people through the park – but I’d have to say my favourite part is the great people I work with.”
Theresa Johnston – Park Interpreter
“One of my favourite places at the Irving Nature Park is the children’s forest, because my son loves to run through the mazes and zip along on the zip line. My favourite part about working here is being able to create and deliver different tours on subjects that I’m interested in or things that I want to learn more about.”
Simon Barton – Lead, Visitor Information Services
“My favourite part about working at the Irving Nature Park is just being outside every day in this beautiful park. This park has so much to offer, and there’s a little bit for everyone.”
Irving Eco-Centre: La Dune de Bouctouche – Bouctouche, New Brunswick
The Irving Eco-Centre is located on the Northumberland Strait of New Brunswick. It was developed by J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI) to preserve and restore one of the few remaining great sand dunes on the northeastern coastline of North America.
A rich variety of marine and aquatic plants and animals, especially shorebirds and other migratory birds, make the 12 km sand dune their habitat. Visitors can use the 800-meter boardwalk stretching along the dune to explore both the dune's wilderness and its salt marsh without endangering the sensitive ecosystems.
Educational and interpretive displays and public tours are offered at the Irving Eco-Centre. Last year, the park hosted 21 special events and visits from 25 schools.
The Eco-Centre continues to be recognized as a Top Attraction on Trip Advisor and has been recognized by the British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow program. The park also received the Phoenix Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Conservation and Preservation from the Society of American Travel Writers in 2006.
Since 1997, the park has welcomed over 2.5 million visitors. Nearly 51,000 have been part of school visits alone.
Caitlin Maillet – Park Interpreter
“One thing I think people really enjoy about our beach is that you get all the qualities of a regular clean beach while also being able to learn about and explore the different ecosystems that we have here.”
Yasmine Jaillet – Park Interpreter
“One of the things I find great about the Eco-Centre is not only does it protect a large number of species, it also lets you enjoy the three main environments in New Brunswick – the wetlands, the forest, and the ocean.”
Mireille Leblanc – Visitor Information Centre Assistant
“My favourite thing about working here is learning something new about the environment every day.”
Joshua Menchions – Visitor Information Centre Assistant
“What I appreciate the most about the dunes is the fact that J.D. Irving committed to conserving one of the last great dunes in North America, and it sustains a healthy ecosystem.”
Learn more about JDI nature parks and upcoming events, and discover for yourself what there is to love!
Irving Nature Park: Facebook.com/IrvingNaturePark
Irving Eco-Centre: Facebook.com/LaDuneDeBouctouche/