People passionate about nature

Audrey Joy Finlay

Ralph Bird Award 1988
Audrey Joy Finlay of Sherwood Park, Alberta, a member of the Federation of Alberta Naturalists, was born in Saskatchewan, grew in in northern Manitoba and later took up residence in Alberta with her husband. She is a mother of three.

Joy pioneered natural history interpretation and environmental education programs for schools and family groups in the Edmonton area in the mid-sixties. When Parks Canada initiated year-round interpretive programs at about the same time, Joy was one of the first naturalists at the Elk Island National Park in Alberta. Her intense involvement and her leadership in environmental education led to her being elected the founding President of the Environmental and Outdoor Education Council of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the first of many important offices she has held. She has served as Board Member of the North American Association for Environmental Education, Director of the Federation of Alberta Naturalists, Chairperson of their Environmental Education Committee, and member of the Alberta government Task Force on Environmental Education.

Joy was Vice-President of the Canadian Nature Federation and Chairperson of the CNF Education Committee, a Board and Executive member of the American Nature Study Society, founding chairperson for Wildlife ’87 and member of the United Nations Environmental Program Committee for a National Environment Sabbath.

Joy’s overwhelming contributions towards the core and nature of planet earth were not confined to leadership inspiration and organization. She has developed and taught courses at the University of Edmonton, Calgary, and Lethbridge, served as an instructional process consultant for the Edmonton Public School Board, developed a series of workshops on science and nature entitled “Interpreting Woods and Fields”, and taught it for many years through the University of Alberta Extension Dept. She has also conducted workshops for teachers in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, and she has been a keynote speaker at many meetings.

Joy is also a gifted author of some considerable accomplishment. Her book “Winter Here and Now” has sold over 10,000 copies; she has co-authored the book “A Guide to Alberta Parks” as well as co-authored “Nature Guide to British Colombia”. She has also produced or edited numerous articles and educational aids.

But perhaps Joy’s greatest and most enduring contribution to natural history and our globe has been the initiation, planning, organization and implementation of Wildlife ’87, the centennial celebration of wildlife conservation in Canada. With an enormous selfless commitment and devotion, including giving up a senior salaried position to become a full-time volunteer , and with sparse financial and administrative resources, Joy breathed life into Wildlife ’87, and event that impacted Canada from coast to coast. Lands have been set aside for conservation in several provinces and tens of thousands of Canadians have been inspired to more responsible environmental ethics as the direct result of Wildlife ’87.

Fortunately Joy’s example of selfless contributions have not gone unnoticed. Not only is she loved and appreciated by thousands of naturalists, students, teachers, readers and others who care about the environment, but she has also been given the Loran Golden Award of the Federation of Alberta Naturalists, Life Membership by the Environmental and Outdoor Education Council of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the 1975 Chatelaine magazine Woman of the Year Award, and two medals by none other than his royal highness, Prince Philip, for her work with Wildlife ’87.