Justine Beghin


Open Studies, Psychology, 5th year (Bachelor of Science, Biological Sciences, Graduate)

Graduate of the Non-Profit Board Internship Program (2022-2023)

Describe your board/organization, its objectives, and your responsibilities during the NPBI internship.

My board is the Aquatic Biosphere Society of Canada (formerly the Aquarium Society of Alberta). The mission of my board is to educate, inspire, and empower people to actively take part in the conservation of Earth’s aquatic ecosystems. They are running the Aquatic Biosphere Project and aim to make a public conservation aquarium in Edmonton, as well as education, research, and innovation facilities. A lot of the work they currently do is in educational outreach.

During my time on the youth board, I partook in board meetings and events (such as two education events at the Telus World of Science). I got to perform the role of secretary in one meeting. I contributed my ideas and attended workshops through the NPBI program to enhance my learning. Finally, I completed a project for my board.

Can you describe your project and how you think it will benefit your board?

For my project, I created a procedure for youth board on-boarding to assist the board with the process in the future. This was a document my board needed but did not have the time and capacity to complete so, I decided it was a great option for my project. There is now an official procedure for how youth on-boarding should proceed so, the process can be replicated in the future with minimal uncertainty. I believe this will benefit my board by making the on-boarding process smooth for the future and check one of their tasks off their to-do list.

What stands out for you as key learning moments as a result of volunteering on a board?

During my time with the board, I got to experience a lot of the behind-the-scenes decisions boards are faced with. For example, early on in my internship, my board underwent a name change which required a vote. This was a key learning moment that stands out because I got to see the nuances that go into these sorts of legal responsibilities and see how a board works together to come to decisions. My board also does not have a physical space at the time, so all our meetings are held online. This was another key learning opportunity to see how my board handled this difficulty. I learnt ways that boards adapt to overcome challenges. I quite enjoyed going to the Telus World of Science educational outreach events. I got to talk with children and adults about marine science and it was a great experience. I especially loved seeing the kids faces light up when they saw something cool. Overall, I learnt that there is a lot of work that goes into running a board and my time with my board gave me a greater appreciation for the non-profit sector.

Would you recommend this program to UofA students and why? 

I would definitely recommend this program to UofA students. It was a really great experience, and I learnt a lot during my time in the program. You get to meet great people who share your interests and have experience running a non-profit board. This could help build networks for one’s future. I was matched with a board that shared my love of science and I ended up finding something else I was passionate about and enjoyed being a part of. Further, it was a manageable commitment with the rest of my courseload, work, and outside activities. By participating in the program, one can learn skills that could be valuable in the future. For example, we learn about financial planning, as well as how to collaborate with a team and how to create functioning groups. These skills go beyond boards, and I believe it is a valuable experience for anyone who can partake in it.