Harvey Moore Wildlife Management Area Trail
Community: near Milltown Cross
From a very early age, Jackie Bourgeois has had a love, respect, and connection to the environment and to the animals that live within it. Her other great interest is in community development, where she has pursued opportunities that help enhance peoples’ quality-of-life. She applied both of those interests and her first academic experience during many years working in the Canadian Arctic as Wildlife Biologist and as Manager of Climate Change Programs with the Department of the Environment in Iqaluit, Nunavut. There, she explored the beautiful Arctic landscape, visiting several communities across three Canadian territories and living among a culture of strong societal values focused on the land and its people. While the north was a wonderful experience, she returned to the Island to begin a Master of Arts (Island Studies) degree at the University of PEI and shortly afterwards started as the Executive Director of the Southeast Environmental Association (SEA), which was recently nominated for the Pillar of the Community – Impact Award which recognizes organizations or individuals that have made an outstanding contribution to the economic, social and cultural well-being of one, or all of the communities in eastern PEI.
The Nature Trails – My favorite place to be in Points East is walking along the region’s many nature trails. Depending on what level of activity you are looking for, and what you hope to see, hiking trails offer all kinds of fun and interesting nature experiences. On a quiet trail, in the company of my two Bernese Mountain pups, I can easily escape the bustling sounds of daily life in anticipation of a transcendental connection between myself and the natural world. While out on the trails, I become more introspective because of the things I see, hear, touch and smell around me and this reconnection of mind/body/spirit creates a harmony and balance in my soul; nature really is the best place to contemplate your reason for being. It’s also fun to bring along my GPS, so that I can map out my hiking details when I get back to the office. I like to record things like distance travelled, duration of hike and area covered. By using GPS waypoints, I highlight interesting, or unusual natural features that I have discovered along the way which aids me in my work, augmented by my interest in photography.
Geo-Caching – As an environmental biologist, I am always working, thinking, observing and taking notes about what I see around me. I like to add a little more fun and amusement to this, so I will download a list of geocache sites to my GPS and go trekking on a weekend just to see where things takes me. There are hundreds of geocache sites all over Eastern PEI, and literally thousands across the Province, so there is no shortage of caches to find, or places to go. There are many ways to geocache and many different kinds of caches to find: mystery caches, multi-caches, challenge caches and trackables. But the exciting part for me is that geocaching takes me to locations that I might never have previously experienced – to a particular wooded area, a section of river, along a trail or scenic road, to a place on a beach, to an establishment, a lighthouse, a cliff, or even a wharf – the possibilities are endless really. Taking time out to geocache gives me an opportunity to see other environments in Eastern PEI and allows me to learn more about this part of the Island.
Mindfulness – This is the most special place of all in Eastern PEI – a sense of place and belonging. The psychological process of bringing one's attention to experiences occurring in the present moment. As a biologist, and someone who works outside on a regular basis, I appreciate things in a different way and I am mindful of all the intricacies of the biological world – especially when I am carrying different kinds of field equipment that let’s me peek into a world not necessarily seen with the naked eye. Fortunately, my work takes me into fairly diverse environments that others probably couldn’t imagine going into such as: deep forest stands well off the beaten path, trekking along the many rivers, streams, wetlands, shores and beaches during all times of the year and during every season, and traversing some fairly challenging terrain that only a committed environmental biologist would even think of going, but these are not everyday experiences, so when the opportunity arises, I take note of everything around me and I try not to miss a thing.
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