Vancouver, BC— Throughout the summer young people are working hard to care for conservation lands as part of The Nature Trust of BC Conservation Youth Crews.  “The opportunity to apply the skills I had learned in school to a position with a non-profit conservation organization based out of my home town was too great to miss!” says Lower Mainland crew member Rebecca Merenyi.  “I love to work outdoors and with my hands, and also had an interest in exploring the natural beauty of the Lower Mainland,” adds crew member Carolina Costa-Giomi.

The Nature Trust of BC hires young people each summer to tackle a variety of activities on conservation lands across the province and learn valuable skills for future employment. Training includes First Aid and Bear Aware as well as the safe handling of power tools. “I learned about the incredible number of properties The Nature Trust has across the province as well as how they decide which areas to protect, and that they often partner with other conservation organizations to increase ecosystem connectivity within an area,” explains Rebecca.

The crews perform on-the-ground work as well as attending workshops from specialists in the field on topics such as bird counts, and forest and wetland ecology. “My favourite activity was conducting wildlife and vegetation surveys. I was fortunate that my crewmates were very knowledgeable about native species identification, so I was able to learn many new species from them,” says Carolina. “By the end of the season I could identify upwards of 40 species!” Rebecca explains, “My favourite activity was checking Wood Duck nesting boxes at the Pitt-Addington Marsh with the Pitt Waterfowlers. I enjoyed working with passionate members of the community who were working towards a goal that The Nature Trust shares – to increase wildlife habitat and animal populations.”

When asked about the most challenging task during the summer, Rebecca says, “Working close to major cities means that we regularly cross paths with large dumpings of household trash, drywall, and even piles of burnt mattresses! Seeing beautiful natural spaces damaged by human carelessness made me very frustrated, but determined to try my best to reduce the impact of their actions,” explains Rebecca.

The crews also contribute to the local community in a variety of ways. “My team did many things that contributed to the local community, but my favourite was working with the BC Backcountry Hunters and Anglers to clean up a portion of Chilliwack River. Chilliwack River is a popular destination for swimming and walking, so it was rewarding to create a safer, more sustainable environment for people, wildlife and plants. We had a great turn-out and were able to collect a lot of waste, preventing it from entering the river system where salmon and other fish spawn,” says Carolina.

When asked about future plans Carolina says, “I will return to Simon Fraser University to complete my Bachelor of Science and academic requirements for registration as a Professional Geoscientist. I hope to eventually work as a soil and climate specialist in an environmental assessment or remediation team.” Rebecca adds, “In September I will be returning to Selkirk College in Castlegar to complete the second year of my diploma in Recreation, Fish and Wildlife Technology. After that I hope to pursue a career in wildlife conservation.”

In 2019, Conservation Youth Crews are operating on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, Okanagan, and the Kootenays. The Nature Trust is pleased to have the support of BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Canada Summer Jobs (Service Canada), Caritate Foundation, Chris Cornborough, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, and The Tony Cartledge Fund to help fund the crews.

The Nature Trust of British Columbia is a leader in land conservation in the province. We conserve and care for BC’s most critical natural habitats for vulnerable wildlife and plants. Since 1971 we have protected more than 175,000 acres (71,000 hectares) with our partners.