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Winter 2015

Newsletter Archive


Staff Pick3: Greg Chernoff

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With the intent of sharing more about ourselves with our readers, we created a bank of potential staff profile questions. Each staff member gets to pick 3 of these questions to craft their staff profile.

The song that I have stuck in my head right now is...

"Sunlight, Good-Light" by Clinton St John. His 2014 record "The Minor Arkhana" gets my vote for best record of 2014 - certainly in Calgary, maybe beyond! You can listen to it here. Please support your local arts scene!

What are you learning right now? What do you want to learn?

I'm learning how to use the extremely robust and powerful, free open-source statistical software, R. It's a great program with almost boundless potential (you can even do GIS with it!) that's supported by a very helpful online community.

There's a long list of things I'd like to learn. Here are a few: I want to learn how to play bass guitar. I have this sense that I might be a natural-born bass player, but I've never even tried to play one. It's probably a lot less annoying to listen to someone learning to play bass than most other instruments. I'd also like to learn some basic programming, maybe in a language like Python. I'd really like to learn how to perform proper wheelies on a bicycle, too! Some people are born with the wheelie gene, the rest of us have to get it the hard way.

What led you to working in conservation and/or the non-profit sector?

Pretty much every aspect of my life leading up to my job at Miistakis! I kind of fell into this job through a series of coincidences or accidents or both; but looking back I guess I can see the path was set out for me from the very beginning. Author Umberto Eco wrote "I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom." Exchange "parents" for "fathers" and I think that explains how I became who I am.

Almost all of my fondest childhood memories are from the woods of my home province New Brunswick, at the Saskatchewan farm where my Dad grew up or on the road in between.

My parents own a woodlot in rural New Brunswick, and as a kid my siblings and I wandered it freely. Following streams to find out where they go, watching the forest change and grow and support itself, listening to coyotes (wolves maybe?) howling into the still night, and first watching my folks work the land responsibly then later working it with them. Without speaking of it, my folks taught me a great respect for, and love of, nature.

We spent most summers at the Chernoff Farm in Saskatchewan, where my great-great-grandmother homesteaded with the Doukhobors. At the farm on the side of the broad Assiniboine valley, I learned to love the expanse and dynamic skies of the prairies and connected to a completely different kind of natural and cultural landscape. My grandparents (on both sides) taught me a lot about the values of community and hospitality, and about the importance of living a conservation ethic. Perhaps by necessity, their generation knew a lot about living efficiently and not being wasteful. I'm so glad they passed some of that on to me.

I've never been any good at sleeping in a car. So on the long road between the Maritimes and the prairies, I'd ride shotgun beside whichever parent was driving with a map on my lap, guiding our trans-Canada tour. This instilled in me a love of landscapes, and of the maps that tell their stories.

Through her actions and her guidance, my Mom has instilled in me a sense of responsibility to self and others. Without telling me directly, she's taught me that it's important to speak up for what you believe in, to do what you can to change your community for the better, and to take care of the people and places you care about.

I'd be remiss if I didn't tip the hat to my wife and best friend of 22+ years, Mollie. She has always believed in and supported me in my choice to do what I do for a living. It hasn't been a particularly easy or direct career path (especially before I found my dream job at Miistakis!), but Mollie's had my back the whole time and I could never have done it without her.