Penticton, 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.  “A position with the crew seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain hands-on, practical experience in the field which would complement my classroom learning and allow me to apply my theoretical knowledge to real-life scenarios,” says Megan Bull, Okanagan 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. “I was especially interested to learn about The Nature Trust’s cooperation with other conservation organizations as well as their collaboration with local ranchers and community members,” explains Megan. “It was interesting to see such a multi-faceted approach to land management. I also learned about The Nature Trust’s over-arching objectives such as species-at-risk management and mitigation of invasive species.”

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. “I really enjoyed participating in a bat count at one of The Nature Trust’s properties conducted by students from Thompson Rivers University, which was a fun introduction to scientific methodology. Another favourite was involvement in Burrowing Owl releases. This was exciting because it involved direct interaction with an at-risk species,” says Megan.

“One of the most challenging parts of this position is dealing with the physical difficulties of working in the field. Dealing with poison ivy and mosquitoes, and finding trail heads can be challenging,” explains Megan.

Photo Left: Crew member installs property sign on NTBC’s Grand Forks property. | Photo Right: Megan (on right) with fellow crew member Daryl-lee set up for plant photo monitoring on NTBC’s White Lake Basin Biodiversity Ranch property.

The crews also contribute to the local community in a variety of ways. “One of our community-based projects was maintenance of snake refugia and installation of wildlife cameras in a local vineyard in order to improve the ability of snakes to survive in an altered habitat,” explains Megan. “Additionally, we spent several weeks mapping the range and spread of invasive plant species throughout the White Lake Basin to inform invasive-species control in the future.”

When asked about her future plans, Megan says, “I will be returning to UBC in September to continue my studies in conservation and ecology. I love telling family members and friends about the projects I have taken on with The Nature Trust, as well as what I have learned over the summer about local species and habitat. I would definitely recommend this position to any students interested in conservation or environmentalism as an excellent way to gain practical experience and knowledge of local ecology.”

In 2018, 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, Great-West Life, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, and The Tony Cartledge Fund to help fund the crews.