As Past President of the Saskatoon Nature Society and an active member of Wild About Saskatoon, Sara Bryson had dedicated her spare time to engaging Saskatonians with the world around them. She does not hesitate to approach people looking at a plant and ask, “Wanna know what that is?” But her experience goes far beyond that. Sara is skilled at guiding people through the first stages of bird identification, starting with a description of a little brown bird and concluding with a list of the many species visible in the most unlikely places. In our conversation, we also talk about Richardson Ground Squirrels (Gophers), Canada Geese lawn mowers, Orb Weaver Spiders, Bats, and many more. Most importantly, we cover the complex relationships between natural spaces.
When asked about her hopes for the direction conservation could take in Saskatoon, Bryson compares the experiences of fragmented habitat with those of people who have become isolated due to COVID-19. “They’re cut off from everyone; they’re having a really hard time. They are isolated. People are social animals naturally, and most don’t function in isolation.” Similarly, a biome does not function well isolated from everything else; “it needs to work with its other parts.”
From our conversation, I learned more about what inspired Sara to become active in the community. For her, growing up in Thompson, Manitoba, nature was close by. She got to watch ravens and learn “how they work in a group to open your metal garbage can with a click lid and lift the blanket off. It’s just amazing to see those kinds of things in person.” However, Sara also recognized the importance of having a nature mentor who taught her some of the basics when she was young. Sara didn’t hesitate when I asked her what her younger self would think if she knew what she was doing now. “I’ve been a nature person my whole life, so young Sara would be like, “Oh My Gosh, You’re the President and the other week, you flew a hawk! She’d be freaking out right now!” It’s inspiring to see people doing what they love.