Volunteer Spotlight: John Desbiens

Volunteer Spotlight: John Desbiens
By Marnie Clement, KLT Volunteer, Development Committee

This month we shine our spotlight on John Desbiens, who is just completing his first year as Chair of the KLT Board of Directors.

John’s acute appreciation for the natural environment led him to become involved with the KLT for the first time four years ago. Most of his activity with the organization has focused on governance, strategy, and organizational positioning.

“The majority of my discretionary time is spent outdoors, enjoying the beauty of regional landscapes and the ecology that thrives within it,” he said. “By far my favourite outdoor activity is backcountry hiking”.

John also enjoys ultimate Frisbee, hiking, canoeing, camping, snowboarding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing  Amazingly, he still has time to serve as chair on the board of Peterborough and the Kawarthas Economic Development and is also chair of the Innovation Cluster which is an organization that supports innovative entrepreneurs in the formation and growth of their technology-driven companies.  

Unlike many of the volunteers we’ve featured, John is not retired.  He is a professional engineer and has been president and CEO of Cambium Inc. since the company was founded in 2006. The Peterborough consulting and engineering company provides expertise and services in environmental, geotechnical, and construction monitoring.

John has lived and worked in both North and South America focusing his expertise on the protection of the natural environment and human health. He lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a while and says he even learned passable Spanish, but is afraid he’s lost most of it over the years.

A lot of his work experience experience has been in support of dozens of municipal, provincial, and federal government initiatives that balance a broad spectrum of interests and priorities.

As a result, he is very conscious of the complex interactions between our built environments and the surrounding natural environment within which they are embedded.

John says we all know development will happen, but he believes that with KLT’s guidance it may be done in places that will do the least harm.

“The rich diversity and complexity of nature is too valuable when compared to the built environments that threaten it,” he said. “The benefits that our natural environment contribute to the health of our society cannot be ignored.”

John says he hopes that KLT is recognized not only for the natural environment and ecological systems it preserves, but also for its efforts to create opportunities for the general public to engage and learn what nature has to offer.

“I believe the mission of KLT to protect and conserve the ecosystems of the Peterborough and the Kawarthas is critical to the general well-being and sustainability of the region,” he said. “The KLT is an exceptional organization that is what it is today because of the commitment to the conservation mandate by its growing volunteer base and staff.” “Being part of the KLT community and knowing the like minded people within it is a joy,” he said.

 (Editorial comment: Gracias John!)