Vancouver, BC — Even with the unusual summer season we had this year, The Nature Trust’s Conservation Youth Crews worked hard to care for critical conservation lands in BC. Following careful COVID protocols, including having smaller crews and size-limited community events, young people donned their safety gear and led the charge to manage habitat for vulnerable species.

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.

Surveying the properties to understand the species that live there is also an important task. “I have learned so much about the plant biodiversity from these surveys. Now whenever I go outside, I can identify the plants around me. It is a skill that I will be able to use going forward in my career and personal interests,” said crew member Amanda Wik.

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 was truly amazing seeing how many people are passionate about conservation and will dedicate their life to the cause. It was also really great learning from these individuals since they have acquired a wealth of knowledge from working in the field for so long” said Savanah Shirley.

Many of the tasks entrusted to the crews are physically challenging, but when asked about the most challenging task during the summer both Savanah and Amanda pointed to the issues surrounding homelessness and unauthorized camping. Amanda said, “I care about the issues homeless people face in finding places to live, but I also care about conserving natural places and unfortunately the two can’t be resolved together on conservation land.”

The lower mainland crew members are planning their future. Amanda is entering her final year of her undergraduate degree in environmental science at SFU and plans further study in a master’s program. Savanah has two years left in her undergraduate degree in environmental science. She plans to participate in co-op programs and explore job opportunities in environmental fields.

The Conservation Youth Crew program endeavours to hire local young people with a keen interest in their local surroundings.

“I grew up in Port Moody and lived in a community that backed up onto Burnaby Mountain. I always feel proud to say I grew up there because it truly is a beautiful city, with a connection from the mountains all the way down to the sea.” said Savanah.

Amanda said of her hometown of Vancouver, “I live in Vancouver, and I’ve lived here my whole life. Vancouver is a special place because it is right in between the mountains, the ocean and the rainforests. It creates this truly diverse set of ecosystems and has really allowed me to explore all the different aspects of nature and biodiversity.”

In 2020, Conservation Youth Crews operated in the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan, and the Kootenays. The Nature Trust is grateful to Wheaton Precious Metals for title sponsorship this year. The BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Canada Summer Jobs (Service Canada), Crew Energy, Chris Cornborough, Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Jim Walker Youth Crew Endowment, and The Tony Cartledge Fund helped fund the 2020 crews.