Helping protect species at risk is John Diebolt’s impetus to volunteer

John Diebolt

BIG LAKE—It isn’t much of a secret that the planet is facing another mass extinction event, and this time it isn’t a meteor or volcano that is being fingered as the culprit, it’s humanity and the loss of habitat. John Diebolt spent most of his life working for the Ministry of Natural Resources where he became highly sensitized to the fate of species facing immanent extinction.

“The piping clover,” he cites as just one example of the creatures that he is driven to try and do more to protect. “Misery Bay (Park) protects plants and animals, a lot of which are species at risk,” said Mr. Diebolt.

Like a lot of volunteers, Mr. Diebolt became involved with the Friends of Misery Bay in a tertiary manner, drawn in by his concern for species at risk and soon found himself in a more central role. “All of a sudden I was on the board,” he chuckled. “I missed a meeting and I was vice-chair.” Not one to easily learn a lesson, he had occasion to miss another meeting. “I found myself the chair,” he laughed.

“My focus at the Friends of Misery Bay is special projects,” he said.

Mr. Diebolt has a number of other volunteer commitments and they range from the related to the somewhat divergent. “I sing in the Island Singers,” he said. “I am also involved in the Little Current Fish and Game Club.”

In any organization, there are usually a small number of those that take an active role. With the Friends of Misery Bay, there are over 200 members, noted Mr. Diebolt, but even those who cannot come out to help with special projects assist with what fellow Misery Bay volunteer Gaynor Orford refers to as the third of the “Three Ts,” treasury.

“Anyone that buys a membership is helping out by providing the funds we need to help carry out our projects,” said Mr. Diebolt.

As for what drives his own volunteerism generally, Mr. Diebolt said that he sees the biggest influence in his taking on volunteer work is that “I like working with people and I like to hang out with people who are interested in the same things I am interested in.” It seems that those kind of people have a special attribute in common: “They don’t know how to say no.”

With a team of five or six dedicated volunteers working together a tremendous amount can be accomplished, noted Mr. Diebolt.

Besides, notes the volunteer, “this work is so much fun we pay to work here,” referencing the membership fees of the Friends of Misery Bay.

“I feel fortunate that Ontario Parks allows lets us continue to look after the park,” said Mr. Diebolt.

As to his other volunteer effort with the Little Current Fish and Game Club, Mr. Diebolt said that he was honoured to be in the company of people like Sheguiandah’s Bill Strain and Honora Bay’s Doug Hore, who between them have over a century of volunteerism under their belt.