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Powered by passion: Corporate Canada dips, climbs and paddles to protect nature

They swam. They climbed. They paddled. And in the process, employees from 46 companies raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars for WWF-Canada’s conservation work in this year’s Spring Things campaign.

Leading the pack was Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), whose team members raised more than $30,000. Together they tackled the Polar Dip, CN Tower Climb for Nature and our inaugural Canoe Challenge with gusto, inspired by enthusiastic senior leaders like CFO Linda Sampson.

© 2016 James Carpenter / WWF-Canada
HPE CFO Linda Sampson and her brave team plunge into Lake Ontario for WWF-Canada

“Spring Things is such a fantastic way for HPE to show our company pride, get our employees excited and make a difference for conservation,” Sampson says.

That kind of commitment to conservation runs deep at HPE.

“It really started because our employees are so passionate about it,” says Gillian Hrycko, HPE Canada’s environmental programs manager.

And it shows no sign of abating: A recent internal survey revealed that 98 per cent of employees want the company to continue championing sustainability initiatives like WWF-Canada’s Spring Things campaign. Being a competitive bunch doesn’t hurt either.

With dozens of rivals – including Coca-Cola Canada (whose new CEO, Christian Polge, embraced the polar dip), Brookfield Global Integrated Solutions (who mustered a company record of 52 participants for the climb) and Bentall Kennedy (the top climb team challenge fundraiser for the second year in a row) – HPE employees rose to the challenge. They raised even more money, climbed faster and paddled harder.

HPE paddles their way to win fastest team at the canoe challenge 2016 Riccardo Cellere / WWF-Canada

© 2016 Riccardo Cellere / WWF-Canada
HPE paddles their way to win fastest team at the canoe challenge

The newest Spring Things event, the Canoe Challenge in Laval, Que., proved to be a big hit. Armed with paddling tips from Olympic canoeist Gabriel Beauchesne-Sévigny, corporate teams piled into 10-person canoes to race around the islands of Parc de la Rivière des Milles Îles on a conservation-themed scavenger hunt. Participants connected with each other – and with nature  – in this exhilarating event. The Canoe Challenge attracted companies with a strong presence in Quebec, including BMO and BNP Paribas, to the Spring Things campaign for the first time.

© 2016 Riccardo Cellere / WWF-Canada Olympic canoeist Gabriel Beauchesne-Sévigny gives a paddling lesson to canoe challenge teams

© 2016 Riccardo Cellere / WWF-Canada
Olympic canoeist Gabriel Beauchesne-Sévigny gives a paddling lesson to canoe challenge teams

“There’s something really Canadian about canoeing and being on our rivers. And to get to do it as part of your work day? Amazing! It gives people the chance to appreciate nature when they’d normally be in the office – and it’s a great team-building exercise,” says Adrienne Lo, who heads up WWF-Canada’s Living Planet @ Work program.

Whether it’s rookie canoeists learning to paddle in unison, tuckered-out climbers exchanging high fives at the top of the CN Tower or a co-op student having a casual conversation with the company’s CFO before jumping in an icy lake, Spring Things has a way of bringing employee groups closer together.

For HPE’s Hrycko, that team-building aspect is one of the best parts of the campaign.

“[It] has been very powerful in terms of employee engagement and morale,” she says.

Brookfield President Gordon Hicks agrees. “Every year, we see more employees getting involved and more funds raised. This was our best year yet.”

© 2016 WWF-Canada Brookfield GIS’s 2016 team at the WWF-Canada CN Tower Climb for Nature

© 2016 WWF-Canada
Brookfield GIS’s 2016 team at the WWF-Canada CN Tower Climb for Nature

 

© 2016 WWF-Canada Brookfield GIS President Gordon Hicks and WWF-Canada President & CEO David Miller at the top of the CN Tower

© 2016 WWF-Canada
Brookfield GIS President Gordon Hicks and WWF-Canada President & CEO David Miller at the top of the CN Tower

WWF-Canada thanks all 2016 Spring Things teams: Your passion for conservation made this year’s campaign an even bigger success. Both HPE and HP Canada get a special salute for completing the full Spring Things trifecta, and the amazing members of our Spring Things leadership committee are worthy of a shout-out all their own:

  • Rudi Blatter, president and CEO of Lindt & Sprungli (Canada)
  • Gordon Hicks, president of Brookfield GIS
  • Brad Nathan, president of Lynx Equity
  • Allister Paterson, president of Canada Steamship Lines
  • Christian Polge, president of Coca-Cola Canada
  • Linda Sampson, CFO of HPE Canada
  • Stuart Wanlin, executive vice-president of Bentall Kennedy

See you in 2017!
Interested in organizing environmental employee engagement and fundraising activities for nature conservation? Join Living Planet @ Work and get free access to ideas and resources, as well as information on getting involved in Springs Things 2017.  Visit: atwork.wwf.ca