Shortly after graduating in 2001, Juanita began employment with the City of Edmonton as a Natural History Interpreter at the John Janzen Nature Centre and Edmonton Valley Zoo. It was intended to be a summer job... but she has never left!
During the summer of 2002 Juanita took on a supervisory position, supervising the natural history interpreters and the programs they were implementing, which she continued for two years. At the start of 2005 she took a big step and accepted the position of Child/Youth Education Program Manager for the Community Facility Services Branch. In this role she manage the educational programs for John Janzen Nature Centre, Edmonton Valley Zoo, Muttart Conservatory, Fort Edmonton Park, John Walter Museum and City Archives. This is the role she continue in today – and loves it!
The focus of Juanita’s work is on environmental and historical interpretation in a structured programming environment to which the foundations for her work were gained during her University course work. Juanita’s team is responsible for the implementation of approximately 3000 school, group, birthday party and day camp programs. During peak operations she has approximately 40 staff and 80 volunteers making all this possible.
When reflecting on her life, Juanita explains, “I’m not surprised that I’ve chosen this career path. I grew up spending summers camping in the mountains and always took in the interpretive programs within Parks. I’ve always had a love for animals and nature and even did my Junior High job shadow at the Zoo. While I love all the work that I do, I have developed a particular passion for the Zoo and Nature Centre. It even feeds into our family life... during a recent family vacation we visited five zoos/aquariums and two nature centres!”
Juanita’s hobbies include camping, birding, bird banding with the Beaverhill Bird Observatory including songbirds and raptors.
On a personal note, Juanita met Bryn Spence while working at the Zoo & Nature Centre in 2001. They were married in 2006 and have one daughter, Adilyn, born in 2009. They live in Edmonton with a dog, two cats and a dove.
The article originally appeared in the Fall 2010 edition of the Landmark Newsletter.
Added: 22 February 2011