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HomeNatureSaying the 2023 Charles Labatiuk Scholarship Award Winner: Makaila Machilek

Saying the 2023 Charles Labatiuk Scholarship Award Winner: Makaila Machilek


This visitor weblog was written by Makaila Machilek, the 2023 Charles Labatiuk Scholarship Award Winner.

Life within the Mountains 

A life rising up within the mountains of British Columbia led me to a deep love of the pure world. My early days have been spent turning over rocks to gather bugs, and it was at all times a very good day when I discovered a garter snake that I may transfer safely off the highway. This love of critters ultimately made me right into a naturalist, and an illustrator as properly.

Rising up, my dream was to grow to be a wildlife artist. I used to be fascinated by the work in pure historical past books and subject guides, and did my greatest to copy them. As I grew older, I spent a lot of my free time photographing wildlife and portray the animals I encountered on hikes and within the yard. In highschool, I found the work of well-known ornithologists, and with them: a love of birds. Ever since, birds have been a outstanding determine in my artistic endeavors.

Portray: American Kestrel by Makaila Machilek

It was a spring journey to go to household in Hawai’i after I started to think about a profession within the sciences. I used to be offered with the chance to spend a day tagging inexperienced sea turtles in Kaloko-Honokohau Nationwide Historic Park. The day was scorching and the work was demanding, however it didn’t matter. Nothing felt so unbelievable as being so near an animal and realizing you have been doing work to protect its future. This introduced me to appreciate that maybe I is perhaps extra focused on pursuing subject biology than the humanities.

College and a Love for Birds 

On the finish of highschool, I utilized to McGill College for Environmental Biology, and to my utter delight, was accepted. At first, I used to be uncertain of what to anticipate, however college has opened me as much as methods of seeing the world I’d by no means have anticipated. I’ve been proven new methods to method conservation that I had by no means thought of, and discovered about topics I by no means would’ve discovered fascinating alone.

Although it comes with many thrilling new facets, first-year college work may be arduous, and the winters in Quebec are lengthy and darkish. To take my thoughts off the stress of schoolwork, I began going for every day walks. Initially I discovered them uninteresting. The deep months of winter and the city setting made the world seemingly devoid of life, apart from the squirrels and crows. However quickly, I discovered the place to look. One night, I discovered myself peering out over gray water. Within the fading gentle, I may see silhouettes of wintering geese, bobbing out on the Saint Lawrence River.

I admired their tenacity. Floating amongst the ice floes, they carried on, unbothered by the fierce climate round them. Quickly after, I discovered myself turning into a daily birder, searching for inspiration from these tiny lives that persevered in opposition to no matter was thrown their means.

Portray: Arctic Tern by Makaila Machilek

Nature and Bringing Individuals Collectively 

An expertise that stands proud since I got here to Quebec was going to a marsh that’s in style for birding. Upon pulling up, I used to be immediately greeted by folks with lengthy lenses and binoculars. Everybody was desperate to share what that they had discovered, and although I wasn’t certain of chicken names in French, everybody nonetheless managed to determine what the opposite was speaking about. What actually struck me about this encounter was that although everybody spoke completely different languages, had completely different life experiences, and ranged in age from six to sixty, everybody was introduced collectively by the identical love of the pure world.

Presently, I’ve been conducting surveys to guard chicken habitats in Quebec. My work brings me to varied completely different locations, and I depend the completely different species I hear and see. My subsequent steps are to deliver this work to the general public. This yr I plan to attach with native faculties and neighborhood teams to organise nature walks and talks. Many individuals don’t understand the accessibility of the pure world. Seeing unbelievable nature documentaries trick folks into believing you want to go to the excessive Andes, African Savanna, or Antarctica to see unbelievable animals, they usually fail to spot the ravens doing barrel rolls within the wind, or the parula singing exterior their window.

Being exterior and absolutely immersing oneself within the life round you will get folks out of their very own heads, and helps deliver communities collectively. I need to assist folks kind a reference to the world round them, as with this connection comes the necessity to defend one thing you’ve come to care about so deeply. Up to now 50 years, the world has modified quickly, and chicken populations have plummeted drastically. I need to be certain that persons are being attentive to this, and to the birds that so desperately want our assist.

Conservation and Future Plans 

Lots of the options to bringing again chicken populations are accessible to the general public: retaining cats indoors, avoiding pesticides, and turning out metropolis lights throughout migration. However step one in defending our wildlife is displaying folks why they need to care, why we must always assist these little lives that proceed to fly huge distances, survive the harshest of winters, and thrive in essentially the most unlikely of locations.

I’ve some time earlier than I graduate from college however within the meantime, I hope to search out alternatives for analysis, ideally one thing that will get me out within the subject, or neighborhood outreach. I’ve a specific curiosity in sea birds, in addition to the threatened salmon populations of British Columbia, and hope to search out alternatives there for work.


I need to say an immense thanks to the Labatiuk household and Nature Canada for offering this scholarship. Being a recipient permits me to additional pursue my schooling and proceed the work I really like. I’m additionally extremely grateful to my household for encouraging my love of nature — permitting me to maintain crickets in a terrarium, mentioning the coyotes within the yard, and introducing me to the birds I’ve come to like a lot.




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