My Experience on the Board
by Antoine Gendron
For the readers who do not know me very well, my name is Antoine Gendron and I am a University of Lethbridge student. I am completing my fifth year of post secondary school (2-year Sport Management and Ministry Diploma and 3rd year at U of L) and the Bachelor of Science portion of my mixed Bachelor of Science and Education. I became involved with the Oldman Watershed Council because of my passion for environmental science, leadership, education, and positive change. The opportunity to become involved on the board level arose through the Southern Alberta Water Charter project I did with a group of students from the University. At the end of June 2019, my two-year term as a Member at Large on the OWC board comes to a close. I want to share some of my experiences I have had, as a 22-year old board member, from the past two years of working closely and volunteering with Oldman Watershed Council.
Overall, my experience has been very positive; I have learned how a board function, discussed important topics with experts, volunteered at events, and was involved in important decision making. These experiences are valuable for the future, but also right now, as I could apply the knowledge from the classroom to real life situations.
Part of my board experience has been preparing for and attend monthly meetings. That may not seem like the most thrilling part of serving on a board, yet it does provide a glimpse in to what it takes to make societal decisions. One of the most relevant experiences I will take away from this two-year term are the monthly board meetings; to be able to take part in meaningful conversations with real life applications and discuss related topics in situations where not everyone agreed allowed me learn how to professionally disagree with others. We would debate issues and decide on best way to move forward. To be able to make a decision, even though not everyone agreed, was a great experience to be a part of and learn from. I will use this skill for the rest of my life.
Being able to evaluate evidence, discuss perspectives, and have an informed position on a topic is a skill that is important and necessary for our society to move forward. I have a lot of respect for my fellow board members and am grateful for their guidance. Everyone genuinely is invested in the organization’s success and that of the watershed.
Being on the board also had its challenges. There were days I left certain meetings frustrated, as it seemed that we did a lot of talking but not a lot of steps towards a solution. I am a very action-oriented person, so I believe that this experience has opened my eyes to better appreciate the people and the processes that take place in organizations and government which lead to action.
I have grown a lot through my board experience, and, even though I am not running again for another term this year, I know that I will eventually come back to be on a board of some sort, whether it is with the OWC or another organization. I encourage young adults and students to take the initiative—even if you do not feel qualified to—and get involved. Take opportunities that arise in front of you. Learn from them. Contribute to them. It can lead to great things. I am very thankful to the Oldman Watershed Council for giving me this opportunity.
*Editor’s note: We would like to thank Antoine for his service on the board and for all of the volunteer work he has done for the organization. We encourage young adults to nominate themselves to serve as a Member at Large on the OWC board. For more information on how to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.