Nanaimo, 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 work with and engage partner agencies, and the experience gained from exploring conservation lands up and down the island has been invaluable,” says Vancouver Island crew member Simon Ferguson.

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. “It wasn’t a surprise to learn about The Nature Trust’s dedication to conserving ecologically significant areas across BC, but the extent to which the organization is invested in communities all over the island and throughout the province was very surprising!” explains Simon. “The Nature Trust’s commitment to conservation is a benefit to all residents and visitors to BC, and will be for generations to come.”

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. “It’s too hard to pick a favourite activity! From construction projects like split rail fences and viewing platforms, to early morning songbird surveys, and vegetation plots.”

When asked about the most challenging task during the summer, Simon says, “There are days that are physically difficult, and others that are mentally difficult, but these challenges keep things interesting. All that aside, the most challenging thing I’ve done was remove roughly 30 small leeches from my foot after installing a boom stick chain at the Morrell Lake dam. Both gross and difficult to grasp (the leeches).”

The crews also contribute to the local community in a variety of ways. “We have done a lot of work in a number of island and coastal communities preserving and restoring conservation lands. Sometimes it feels like much of the work won’t be immediately appreciated, but when we get the opportunity to engage the public to let them know the what, why, and how, often they are supportive of the efforts.”

Simon won the 2019 Jim Walker Conservation Crew Member Award for his leadership and excellence on the job.

When asked about future plans, Simon explains, “I’m headed back to Camosun College in Victoria to wrap up my Environmental Technology diploma.”

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, Ducks Unlimited Canada, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, and The Tony Cartledge Fund to help fund the crews.