Happy New Year LWI!
This past year, 2019, was a year worth celebrating; filled with so many impactful initiatives, events, and indoor/outdoor programs. I want to look back and highlight some of what I think made this year exceptional before we look ahead to this new year, and new decade.
We try to cycle our outdoor events to keep things new and fresh but it’s hard not to repeat popular and successful ones. In 2019, club favourites such as Down River Ducks, Spring Wildflower Walk, Habitat Garden Tours, and the Fungi Foray continue to be enjoyed.
I have always had an interest in phenology – the study of cyclical plant and animal events and how they are influenced by seasons, climate and habitat factors . Perhaps the best thing about some repeat programming, is that it’s nature – no two years are the same; each time we see different things or experience them in different ways and places. Even though some of our repeat outdoor events happen around the same time each year, the number and variety of mushrooms in the fall or wildflowers in the spring are strongly influenced by heat and precipitation, making it a different experience every time. And, I love that!
With more of a local focus, pulling knowledge and stories from in-and-around Lambton County, 2019 was another exceptional year of presentations. Enriching our understanding of the natural world around us, we learned about bats in Pinery Park; woodlot management and naturalization on a local family farm; and birding in Lambton County, just as a few examples.
I moved to Sarnia 6 years ago and knew no one. I looked for a local nature group because you are ‘my people’. I still remember going alone to my first indoor presentation, coming home after listening to a talk that thrilled me, and knew I’d be back. Since then, this club has given me friendships, a community, and a connection to local natural areas that I’m not sure I would have found otherwise. It was an advertisement for an indoor presentation in the Sarnia Journal that read ‘guests and new members are always welcome’ to thank for that.
Our Young Nats (YN) team focus in 2019 was to try to expose as many kids to nature as possible. This meant an increase in advertising using social media, encouraging the public (non-members) to attend, and hosting pop-up style events that are based around timing of natural phenomena and good weather versus fixed dates and times. Their efforts were very successful with all events well attended, seeing new faces all the time, and having membership significantly grow. Many of these new initiatives are expected to continue in 2020.
Some 2019 YN highlights include:
- YN Social, an indoor party full of nature themed crafts, games, food, and show-and-tell
- Night Hike in Canatara Park, learning all about nocturnal animals.
- 2nd annual Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4KIDS) that was wildly successful. Already looking forward to next year’s! See a full summary here: https://lambtonwildlife.com/blog/2nd-annual-christmas-bird-count-for-kids-recap/
We also recently learned that we are the only nature club in our region that offers children’s programming (with Essex region working to establish one currently). It makes me so proud that our club prioritizes nature engagement and literacy with the young people in our community. After all, they are the next generation, our future, our club’s future. Keep up the awesome work YN team!
$25,000 donation to support a local species-at-risk project
At September’s indoor meeting, our membership was wowed by the research by Biologist, Jessica Linton in and around Pinery Provincial Park in support of a local species-at-risk butterfly, the Mottled Duskywing, and Oak Savannah habitat restoration. The results of the project could be valuable for management of LWI’s property of similar habitat, the Karner Blue Sanctuary. There was overwhelming support for the project and as such, the Board of Directors passed a motion to donate $25,000. To learn more about the project, you can visit the following website, but we have also asked for periodic updates as the project progresses, which we will share with all of you! Your membership dollars and donations help to make large-scale projects like this possible!
For more info about the project visit:
Your membership and donation dollars were also used to support environmental initiatives (eg. naturalization projects) in our community through the Habitat Fund launched in 2019. We made $10,000 of funding available to local community groups and organizations to complete projects that would enhance the ecological value of properties in Lambton County. The Habitat Fund committee hastily developed an eligibility framework so that applications could be accepted in the spring! A total of eight projects were completed in Lambton County in 2019 as a result of this initiative, ranging from school yards to First Nations communities.
Be sure to join us at our indoor meeting later this month for an official Habitat Fund update and photos. Well done Habitat Fund Committee!
If any of you attended the tree identification walk in Fall of 2018 that drew nearly 100 attendees, you’ll know trees are a BIG crowd pleaser! Building on our community’s growing love of trees, we offered a one-day workshop in September 2019 that was SOLD OUT (with a waiting list) year. Organizers did a terrific job of marrying classroom-style presentations about local tree identification and ecology with hands on practice of learned skills in beautiful Canatara Park. I heard rave reviews by all who attended.
Bioblitz at Karner Blue
As owners and stewards of the Karner Blue Sanctuary property, Lambton Wildlife is aiming to renew their interest and stewardship in the property, and revise and update the current management plan. A BioBlitz is a great way to bring together taxonomic experts, citizen scientists, and the general public to inventory all species, for such a rare and unique property. We conducted a successful Bioblitz that was attended by Will Van Hemessen (botanist) and Jeff Skevington (entomologist) who contributed invaluable data to our KBS property. Thank you to organizers and participants of this citizen science activity!
Seed Collection and Planting at Sydenham River Nature Reserve
Ontario Nature hosted a seed collection and tree planting at the Sydenham River Nature Reserve in October, which was attended by several of our members. More than a thousand tree seeds were planted as another step towards restoring this near-and-dear-to-our-heart property to its natural state. To read more information and see some photos, visit our blog: http://lambtonwildlife.com/blog/tree-planting-at-sydenham-river-nature-reserve/
Ontario Nature Regional Meeting
In October, we co-hosted the ON Nature Regional meeting along with the Sarnia Environmental Advisory Committee (SEAC) and Sydenham Field Naturalists (SFN). This bi-annual meeting brings together representatives from each of the nature clubs and groups in the Carolinian West region for a one-day workshop to discuss environmental issues and each club’s recent and upcoming activities. It’s been a great way to network and gather ideas to continue to offer top-notch programming to you, our members.
This meeting was very special as it was held at Aamjiwnaang First Nation. The Environmental Coordinator shared with us the community’s current environmental projects and priorities, and an elder taught us about the history of their traditional territory, and shared personal stories and her connection to the environment. We participated in a smudge ceremony, and drummers from their youth group performed. We ate a delicious lunch of traditional foods, and toured their native plant greenhouse, turtle garden, and a creek that underwent recent remediation. It was a tremendous day full of learning and sharing.
Seed Swap and Seed Processing Demonstration
With so many LWI members having native plants or gardens on their residential property, the seed swap in the fall was an ingenious idea! Seed swaps serve as a fun and cost-friendly way to increase diversity in our own yards, with the benefit of using local seeds; protecting and enhancing the genetic purity of plants in our local ecosystems. The swap was well attended, with dozens of varieties of seeds available for other members to take home for free. I am already looking forward to planting my Black-Eyed Susans this spring!
The seed processing demonstration showed us some interesting and effective means of extracting seeds from different plant species. I have a large wild bergamot plant with at least 100 flower heads on it in my yard; but, didn’t know where to begin with harvesting the seeds because they’re just so small. Thanks to the demo, I will be ready next Fall.
A BIG THANK YOU!
In my intro, I said highlight. A few pages of text later, and I still feel like I have only scratched the surface, not able to capture how wonderful the events and initiatives of the past year really were, and surely missing some altogether. Thank you to all our donors, we thank you for supporting Lambton Wildlife’s dedication to the conservation, preservation, and protection of the natural environment in Lambton County. Your membership dollars and donations have helped fund; a large-scale butterfly conservation project, a habitat fund for local naturalization projects, a bursary program for those who are interested in furthering their education to protecting or enhancing our natural environment, managing 2 wildlife sanctuaries, assisting Ontario Nature with habitat enhancement at the Sydenham Nature Reserve, and help deliver an array of events that enhance our understanding and appreciation for the natural world, especially to the younger generation through our Young Naturalist Club.
More so, in writing this, I am reminded of the cumulative effort from the board members, committee members, and volunteers among you that have made all of this and more possible. Year after year, you dedicate your valuable time, and bring new and unique ideas that keep this club special. Actively protecting nature in Lambton County for over 50 years is a community of people like you. Thank you!
For anyone interested in volunteering within our club, as I look at the list of what we have accomplished in one year alone; all I can say is, it feels pretty awesome to be part of this. 😊
Looking forward to all the great things that are in store for us in 2020, and beyond.