Y2Y's Simon Ongom stands on a trail in Banff National Park

Y2Y’s financial controller Simon Ongom explains the true value of your donations

Simon Ongom is Y2Y’s financial controller. Having joined Y2Y in 2020 and as a key part of our financial team, he has had the opportunity to see the impact of your gifts from a whole different point-of-view.

Simon attributes his academic and social developments to environment, as he grew up interacting extensively with nature. Here, he explains his journey in conservation and why your donations to Y2Y are more valued than ever as we enter into 2021.


As an accountant and former banker, I know how important it is to give donations to your favorite charities before the New Year.

There are a variety of reasons why one might be compelled to give their hard-earned money to an organization like Y2Y.

For some, donating is a way to share gratitude and blessings for the year that was. For others, it’s a way to reduce 2020 taxes.

For me, it’s a way to invest in something that’s very important: nature preservation.

If it wasn’t for nature and the outdoors, I wouldn’t be here today: living in the foothills of Alberta, working as Y2Y’s financial controller in the snowy Rocky Mountains at Y2Y’s headquarters in Canmore.


I was raised on land right across from Kabalega National Park in Uganda. Every day, I would explore the hills and trees of the park and watch wildlife from the windows in our home. Being surrounded by nature gave me an incredible sense of being and belonging. I understood interconnection.

— Simon Ongom, Y2Y’s financial controller

It’s a long way from where I grew up in Uganda. I was raised on land right across from Kabalega National Park. The park was home to elephants, buffalo, wild cats and many species of monkeys.

Every day, I would explore the hills and trees of the park. I would watch wildlife — like elephants — from the windows in our home. Being surrounded by nature gave me an incredible sense of being and belonging.

I understood interconnection.

“Young Elephant” by Rod Waddington is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

But, over time, I also saw how the human activities and developments that popped up around the park had a terrible impact on wildlife. Wildlife numbers dropped because many of them left the area, if they survived at all. I have seen what happens when we don’t protect and value our natural reserves.

It’s not all that different from my work as an accountant and banker. In finance, we monitor and measure our money. We set aside money each month to help us in the future. Over time it accumulates into something substantial.

That’s what Y2Y does, too. We work to conserve different areas throughout the Yellowstone-to-Yukon region, that when put together become something substantial. It’s just like monthly giving; a bit set aside each month becomes a substantial gift over the course of the year.

I joined Y2Y in August 2020 because it combined my childhood passion for nature with my expertise as an accountant. It’s about stewarding our resources wisely and investing in the future. As your financial controller, you have my trust that Y2Y stewards your dollars wisely.

In 2021, your donations will be invested in work that will protect wild landscapes and improve pathways for wildlife. Your gifts will also help ensure that people can continue to enjoy and experience nature, just as I did in my childhood.


Want to know more?

Learn about Y2Y’s impact in our recent annual reports.

Get the details on how your donation is used.

Header photo: Y2Y’s financial controller Simon Ongom hikes in Banff National Park, Alberta (credit: Kelly Zenkewich)