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.

Mary Martin

LWI president 2016-2017


Lambton Wildlife Incorporated (LWI) has been protecting nature for over 50 years by bringing those with a love of nature together to work towards common goals in conservation, preservation, and protection of the natural environment in Lambton County. Through a range of programs and events we aim to foster an environment that encourages appreciating, learning, and teaching about the natural environment.  In order to continue the voice and values of LWI, we must reach out to our younger generation to provide them with positive experiences in nature.

Why Connect Kids with Nature?

Nature deficit disorder may be a coined phrase but the symptoms are real.  Today children are spending half as much time outdoors as they did 20 years ago with much of this time now devoted to viewing digital media. Time spent playing outside is correlated with increased physical activity, mental creativity, decreased aggression and better concentration in children. Recent research has also shown that children who play outside are more likely to protect nature as adults. The most direct route to caring for the environment as an adult is participating in “wild nature activities” before the age of 11. This is where we come in. (more…)