Michael Gregory is the Team Leader for the Conception Bay South (CBS) Green Team. This is his third year working with Conservation Corps NL and his first working as Team Leader. Michael recently graduated from Queen Elizabeth Regional High School. He is passionate about the outdoors and enjoys hiking and fishing, learning survival skills, and identifying the trees, rocks and plants that make up the environment that surrounds us everyday. Michael also plays and teaches guitar, and enjoys computer programming and woodworking.
Why did you decide to join the CBS Green Team?
Three years ago, a friend mentioned Conservation Corps to me and suggested that I apply for the position advertised on their website. Thinking it would be an excellent opportunity for outdoor, summer employment centered on a conservation initiative, I submitted a resume. That summer I was hired as a Team Member for the Green Team Program. I immediately enjoyed the work so much that I found myself dreading the weekends. This experience inspired me to apply again as a Team Member for a second summer. When that summer ended, a committee member (and community partner) at Chamberlains Park suggested the I should apply for a Team Leader position. Thinking back on how much I had enjoyed the past two summers and looking to further my job experience, I applied for the Team Leader position and was hired for the summer of 2020 as the Team Leader for the CBS Green Team.
What have you learned while working on this project?
I have learned countless things while working on this year’s project. When partnering with Manuel’s River during the first weeks of the summer, the team was assigned to work in some surrounding gardens. While I have some experience with gardening work in the past, these assignments were very specific and somewhat advanced. The volunteers at the center were quite helpful and knowledgeable and were able to teach all of us on the team a great deal about garden beautification. I was also able to interact with many individuals all working in different positions when working with Manuel’s River. I had to develop relationships, understand the chain of command, and memorize a lot of names while working with our community partners. This was all very new to me and surprisingly was difficult to learn, but as I developed more confidence, it became easier. I believe this was an important learning experience that I will use in my life for years to come. These are just a few of the many learning experiences I have had while working for Conservation Corps.
What are some skills you’ve developed as Green Team Leader?
If I’m being honest, before working as a Green Team Leader this summer, I had never truly considered myself an adequate leader. Now I can’t imagine why I had not applied for this position in past years. Once again, Conservation Corps has exposed a part of myself that I never knew existed!
I have developed so many leadership skills this summer that it would be impossible to list them all so I will just share a few. As a leader, I am assigned a fair amount of paperwork throughout the summer including weekly reports, photo submissions, and workplace hazard review sheets. At first I found it overwhelming to keep track of it all but after a couple of weeks it became considerably less stressful. Another part of being a leader is communicating with community partners, media, and staff at Conservation Corps. As someone who considers myself as somewhat of an introvert, this was rather challenging at the start. Again, with experience it got easier and now I find myself able to talk to almost anyone without hesitation.
An essential part of leading the team is placing myself in an authoritative position. This has been my least favorite aspect in my position as Team Leader. That is not to say that other members do not get a say, but I have come to find that a team will prefer to have someone in a position of authority make the final call.
Lastly, as a leader my concern is focused not only at the project, but also on building a good team. Previously as a team member my attention was placed solely on the project, but as a leader, I believe that majority of the focus should be on the team. This is because I am responsible for the safety of my team members, discipline, and (my favorite part of the position) team morale. I have found being a team leader is very different than being a team member and it has exposed me to many different learning experiences in such a short period of time.
What do you think is one part of the Green Team Program that people may not know about?
The Green Team Program is so much more than outdoor, summer employment with a conservation initiative. During my time working with Conservation Corps, I have gained so much knowledge and a variety of skills. I have loved my work every year. The Green Team program cannot be put into one category. While you gain experience working a labor-focused job, you also learn about conservation and climate change. You will also meet some amazing people along the way who might become future coworkers and friends. During my first year with the Green Team, I met the directors at Chamberlains Park and today, I am a director myself. I have also met many people my age with whom I have shared many unforgettable memories. The Green Team program is a job unlike any other. I truly believe I would not be who I am today without Conservation Corps.
Do you have ideas about what you’re interested in professionally? Has your work as a Green Team Leader influenced this?
Like many other recent graduates, I am undecided what I hope to do in the future. However, I have developed a number of ideas that are all influenced by my work with the Green Team Program. Environmental engineering has been a tempting career choice for some time due to its outdoor-oriented nature. This was enhanced by my experience on the Green Team as I have greatly appreciated working in an outdoor setting. During my work in the Green Team Program I have also contemplated a career in politics after spending time with community partners and members of the municipality. I have found myself enjoying the more hands-on construction projects with the Green Team which has led me to think about going into construction. As I enter into my first year at post-secondary, I must make a final decision for a career path soon. While I am not sure what that path will be, I am sure my experience with Conservation Corps has led me there.