Growing up in McAdam, N.B., Thom Swift learned the importance of nature the hard way.
Long before he became the award-winning blues musician that he is today, Swift was just a new high school graduate, looking to make some post-grad cash.
So when an opportunity to run a power saw for a large forest clearing company presented itself in the area, he took it.
“I worked [there] for a couple years because, growing up in a small town, there wasn’t a whole lot of work. And so what happens a lot of the time is people go to work and all they’re thinking about is making a few bucks for their families. They’re not thinking long term,” said Swift.
Roughly 30 years later, he knows this better than ever.
“I was a kid. I was thinking about work. I’m not a kid anymore,” said Swift, 50, now based in Nova Scotia.
“I’m shocked because our government is run by adults, and they’re not 18 years old anymore but they’re kind of acting like they’re 18 years old.”
Swift’s deep appreciation for nature has translated into a serious drive to help conserve New Brunswick’s forests, something he plans to do this weekend at the Nature Trust of New Brunswick’s On The Rise fundraising event.
“It’s not that we take advantage [of nature]; it’s that . . . we’re kind of blinded to it. We think it’s there and it’s always going to be there. But that’s not always the case,” he said.
“It’s our responsibility as adults to do exactly what the Nature Trust is trying to do and is doing.”
The Nature Trust of New Brunswick is a charitable land trust that has, to date, conserved thousands of acres of land throughout the province. It currently has 37 nature preserves throughout New Brunswick, including one on Fredericton’s northside known as the Hyla Park Nature Preserve.
Swift will perform at the organization’s second annual On The Rise fundraiser on Saturday. The fundraiser is themed “Stewardship” and it will feature a keynote address by Remsoft’s Sandi MacKinnon, a corporate steward for Hyla Park, an auction, raffle, and hors d’oeuvres.
It’s an event which Nature Trust communications coordinator Jessica Bradford believes is critical for the organization for a number of reasons.
“The Nature Trust has been around for 26 years now . . . but there are still so many people out there who don’t know about our organization because we’re rather small,” said Bradford.
“The main objective [of On The Rise] is to raise funds for the Nature Trust, but also to raise awareness, because having a very visual community event . . . opens up new doors and new things we can do in the province.”
While regular admission to the event is $50, students can purchase one of 20 student tickets available at $20 each, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. This student-friendly initiative is one Bradford hopes will encourage more young people to show their support for the cause.
“It’s so important to be engaging the students in our efforts . . . the main reason [being] that we need this next generation to continue what we’re doing. So if we engage them now, it will . . . continue to make land conservation a priority in the future,” she said.
Nature Trust of New Brunswick’s On The Rise fundraising event will take place on Saturday, March 22 at 7 p.m. Funds raised at this year’s event will go toward a variety of causes within the organization, including operational costs, stewardship work and public education.