Invasive Species Council of British Columbia

Volunteer Spotlight: Han Yan

Oct 14th, 2022

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you experience the nature around you?

I started my volunteering journey with ISCBC in 2021 and worked on invasive species removal and ecological restoration processes in Vancouver’s Pacific Spirit Park area. I am also a street dancer focusing on various styles. The meaning of dance to me is similar to that of nature; you feel free and unrestrained while immersing yourself in either dance or nature. When dancing, I try to keep the following in mind: “Don’t try to be graceful when dancing, but dance to feel graceful.” I think the same applies in a natural context; don’t aim to gain something from protecting nature but aim to protect nature, and in turn you will gain something.

What do you like about volunteering and what inspired you to take action?

I am happy to see that I can turn the knowledge I learned from theory to practice when volunteering. For example, when I was doing Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) removal around the Pacific Spirit Park area, I had to figure out the differences between it and the native Trailing blackberry (Rubus ursinus). I used my plant ID skills to differentiate the two species as Himalayan blackberry has five leaflets while Trailing blackberry only has three. It feels good to see what you have learned can have practical uses in the field. My motivation for volunteering is simple: I want to pull myself closer to nature. With the majority of us living in the hustle and bustle of urban centres, I hope to spare some of my time to be in nature. Also, I have met many friends from diverse backgrounds through the volunteer events I’ve attended. Thus, I would say networking is also one incentive.

What would you say to a potential volunteer?

I would say the following: Don’t hesitate to take that first step. Though it can sometimes be challenging to step out of your comfort zone, you will gain something unexpected if you try new things. I also suggest being perseverant with attending volunteer events. It’s ok to be absent one or two weeks, but don’t always find excuses to avoid attending. If you decide on trying something, you should try your best to follow through and achieve it.

What volunteering action are you most proud of and why?

In my volunteer sessions around Pacific Spirit Park, I find it pleasing to share the purpose and benefits of our activities with passers-by. It acts as a way to increase public awareness of ecosystem protection. This tends to be essential because if the general public has an idea of general standards regarding environmental protection, it will be easier for either the future establishment of environmental protection policies or the promotion of public engagement.

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