Cranbrook, 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. “I wanted to continue on my conservation career path and expand my skills in the field. I was ready to explore a new part of Canada and I knew that the position was going to bring me an amazing experience,” says Amelia Bonenfant, Kootenay crew member.
The Nature Trust of British Columbia hires young people each summer to tackle 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. “The Kootenay crew is in charge of over 26 properties totalling 27,988 acres,” explains Amelia. “One of the things I learned about The Nature Trust is that it implements restoration projects whenever it can and works closely with government and other groups, highlighting the value of teamwork to achieve conservation results.”
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 restoration work on properties, whether it included invasive plant removal, seeding, planting or maintenance. It feels good to be doing something to enhance wildlife habitat quality,” says Amelia.
When asked about the most challenging thing she’s had to do on the crew, Amelia explains, “Tackling invasive species in the heat and in isolated areas. For example, one of our properties in the West Kootenay had invasive thistle with patches imbedded in a deep wetland. We had to hike in with our brush saws and personal protection equipment through rough terrain with weeds 7 feet tall holding us back. Not only is the invasive removal demanding but accessing locations without creating too much disturbance in the ecosystem can be, too.”
The crews contribute to the local community in a variety of ways. “I helped host a bat education and box building workshop for the community on one of The Nature Trust’s new properties. With the help of a bat biologist and the local rod and gun club, we debunked bat myths and taught the public about the importance of bats.”
When asked about future plans, she says, “In the near future I want to find more long-term contracts in the conservation biology field, travel the world and potentially further my education.”
In 2019, Conservation Youth Crews are operating on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, Okanagan, and 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, Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, and The Tony Cartledge Fund to help fund the crews.