How do you ensure the future of Canadian wildlife conservation is in good hands? Engaging young Canadians in outdoor adventure, immersive field learning, and conservation project development is one way. That’s been the goal of the Canadian Conservation Corps (CCC), a barrier-free and inclusive program for youth ages 18 to 30, developed by the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) and funded by the Government of Canada through the Canada Service Corps initiative. Established in 2018, the CCC program continues to inspire participants to develop conservation leadership skills through the creation and implementation of community projects. Here are a few shining examples of the innovative projects being delivered by CCC members across Canada.
Caitlin Brant – Niagara Falls, Ontario
A passion for pollinators inspired Caitlin’s idea to develop a program to aid in pollinator species recovery. The Niagara Falls, Ontario native’s new “Monarch Mayhem” program targets teachers of students in elementary and high schools and is being made available this October to help raise awareness of the annual fall migration of Monarch butterflies from Canada to Mexico. On October 6th, 2020, teachers are encouraged to implement the “Monarch Mayhem” initiative, which includes in-class lessons for grades 1 through 12, a schoolyard “bioblitz,” pollinator-friendly gardening, and the “Monarch March,” an interactive activity that encourages students to run or walk in support of Monarch awareness. Caitlin’s goal is to get students to march a cumulative 4,000km, the same distance monarchs travel from southern Canada to their overwintering grounds in Mexico.
“It is important, especially with the events of 2020, for young people to have something to look forward to, celebrate and to connect with nature,” said Caitlin. “My hope is that teachers across the country incorporate the Monarch Mayhem program into their fall curriculum. Anything we can do to help Monarch populations recover is a step in the right direction for the species.” Visit www.monarchmayhem.ca to register your classroom.
Isabelle Bujold – Sherbrooke, Quebec
Educating individuals about Canadian wildlife and the importance of conservation is the primary driver of Isabelle’s CCC project. Working with her collaborator from the Ocean Bridge organization, Sarah Dubord-Fortin, Isabelle has created a YouTube channel called “Les Natur’elles.” The channel includes a series of short videos the pair has produced, designed to teach people proper use of iNaturalist Canada, an online platform that encourages people across the country to help track biodiversity through use of the free iNaturalist app. Isabelle’s hope for the project is to increase iNaturalist exposure, especially with Francophones in Quebec and across Canada. “We underestimate the power of connecting people with nature,” says Isabelle, who is currently working on her Master Degree in Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation at the University of Toronto. “When you make people fall in love with nature, they will want to protect it. This is exactly what we wanted to achieve with our videos.”
James Pinto – Toronto, Ontario
While working in Toronto’s landscaping industry, James noticed a lack of native plant diversity in many of the city’s urban spaces. That inspired this recent CCC participant to develop a collaborative project with local property and commercial business owners. The goal is to encourage property managers to plant native plants and pollinator-friendly gardens in commercial spaces in order to qualify for certification through CWF’s Garden Habitat Certification initiative. “I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to do my small part to help pollinators and wildlife in my community,” said James. “My experience with the CCC program has been life changing. It has given me the skills, knowledge and resources to be an activist for conservation.”
Nicole Webster – Winnipeg, Manitoba
Nicole’s CCC experience began with a winter snowshoeing adventure through Algonquin Park, followed by field work with CWF’s turtle conservation program in Muskoka. Once back home in Winnipeg, Nicole recognized the need to enhance Winnipeg’s green spaces with native plants. That lead her to organize the Winnipeg Wildflower Project. “I started my work with the Winnipeg Flower Project because I was interested in urban prairie restoration and wanted to see community spaces be restored to habitat for pollinators,” says Nicole. The initiative included the planting of native wildflower and grasses in seed plots to establish a source for harvesting native seed. The goal is to harvest this seed and make it available to community members through seed starting and planting workshops. With the help of volunteers and project partners, the seeds will also be used in prairie restoration projects around the city.
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