Presented at the LWI Annual General Meeting, April 8, 2017
Melissa says “ LWI Young Naturalist and Junior Conservationist programs have the potential to be a powerful opportunity to connect children with nature and to help build future conservationists.”
Melissa has been the young naturalist and junior naturalist leader for Lambton Wildlife for more than 10 years. During that time she provided a varied and interesting program that included kayaking, camping, owl prowls, and snowshoeing. Some became yearly traditions such as the Christmas bird count, butterfly count, Howard Watson nature Trail Clean- up and camping on Pelee Isalnd. During these fieldtrips, Melissa taught how to value and respect our natural surroundings and how to minimize negative effects on the environment.
Melissa had a knack for making everyone feel welcome and making every child feel connected and appreciated. She was always welcoming new members and was responsive to her participants, asking for feedback and incorporating it into future plans. If one child became interested in some aspect of nature that was outside of Melissa’s area of expertise, she would network with other experts and connect the children with these experts. Melissa then became a co-learner and shared the discoveries with the children.
Sean Jenneskin (a long time member of Melissa’s group) writes:
As a young person nowadays, it can be very hard to keep an interest in natural history. It seems to be a fairly uncommon topic of interest for most young people, and thus, hard to find friends with a similar interest. Melissa was always so inviting with all new comers to the group, she made everyone feel welcome and made it easy to find others with similar interests in the group.
As many of you may know, birding is an addiction of mine, but if it weren’t for Melissa introducing us to all the various forms of natural history, such as bird watching, I wouldn’t be the birder I am today.
I am very grateful for all Melissa has taught me, and I’m sure all the other young naturalists are grateful as well. She has done a great deal for the youth of Lambton Wildlife, and I am very thankful for all she has done with this group. Although she started out as my instructor, I now consider her to be a great friend.
Today, Melissa is employed by the St Clair Region Conservation Authority and her role there shares many aspects of her role with Lambton Wildlife. Lambton Wildlife is so lucky to have benefited from Melissa years of volunteer work. This award is to recognize her years of service. Thank you very much.
LWI president 2016-2017