Metchosin - April 14, 2019
By: Ashlea Veldhoen
It was a blustery day for a barbecue but with the help of some amazing volunteers and a wonderfully organized team of people, the Earth Day Blitz in Metchosin was a wonderful success with over 200 people came to participate in the Earth Day festivities despite the windy weather. Many of the participants were from the Metchosin area, some of which were Boys and Girls Club members, some of whom were from the Scia'new (Cheanuh) Youth Field Team and some were from the BC Nature Kids group. With crafts and face painting, music, food and education, this event was chock-full of fun things for families to do!
HAT volunteers Alf, Robbie, Bob and Ronna were key to the success of the event, helping set up, run the HAT table and even barbecuing! Our Executive Director, Katie was also there to lend a helping hand at the food stand. Volunteers from the Boys and Girls Club were very keen and lead the crafts tables, scavenger hunt and field games during the event.
The Bald Eagles Band - a local band made up of retired naturalists - played the entire event, with classics like "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Margueritaville" competing with the wind for a chance to shine.
We had three very well-attended walk and talks, one each hour during the event. At 12:00 pm the Metchosin Biodiverity Group led a walk on using the free mobile application iNaturalist to help locate and identify local wildlife - from seedling to butterfly to mammal to bird - with the help of other users online, many of whom are professional scientists by trade. This walk had the highest number of attendees, many of whom stated they found the workshop useful and have committed to using iNaturalist in the future.
"It's great!" one participant exclaimed with a wide smile. "I will be using this app every time I go into the field from now on".
From the iNaturalist website: "iNaturalist provides a place to record and organize nature findings, meet other nature enthusiasts, and learn about the natural world. It encourages the participation of a wide variety of nature enthusiasts, including, but not exclusive to, hikers, hunters, birders, beach combers, mushroom foragers, park rangers, ecologists, and fishermen. Through connecting these different perceptions and expertise of the natural world, iNaturalist hopes to create extensive community awareness of local biodiversity and promote further exploration of local environments." Metchosin Biodiversity hopes to continue to use iNaturalist - among other natural science-based apps - to connect people with nature by helping them get to know the species found right in their own backyards.
The second walk was a plant ID walk by Metchosin Foundation Director, and one of HAT's original founders - Joel Ussery. A long-time Metchosinite and local plant-expert, Joel took attendees on a nature hike through some of the 100-acre property at the Boys and Girls Club to identify some of the amazing plants on the property.
The third and last walk was a habitat walk and talk with our very own Stewardship Coordinator Paige Erickson-McGee, who separated her small group of attendees into teams "slug" and "turtle", tasking each with finding potential habitat for each animal as the hike progressed. During the walk, Paige highlighted some of the different types of habitat found throughout the Boys and Girls Club camp area, from meadows to ponds to shrubby riparian habitat to forest. At each habitat stop Paige took a moment to ask participants which species might be found in each. The group found fur from an Eastern Cottontail rabbit (an introduced species) near the shrubby riparian habitat, saw a mother goose sitting on her nest at the edge of a pond, heard Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Golden-crowned kinglets, American Robins and Bushtits, and visited the location of three new HAT-made turtle nesting habitats. Participants were excited to find a small Leopard slug and a Pacific Tree Frog in some shrubby riparian habitat with rotting logs.
At the end of the event, participants, staff and volunteers all gathered in a circle and to make an Earth Day promise to reduce their impact on the Earth. We used an Earth-shaped balloon and attempted to keep it from touching the ground to symbolize our promise to uphold the Earth. We released the balloon into the air to begin the exercise, but unfortunately the wind and invasive blackberries had other plans for us. Before we were able to touch the balloon a second time, the wind had carried the balloon over our heads and directly into a blackberry patch. This we took as a symbol of its own, a warning, perhaps, of what might be to come if we don't uphold our promise - as individuals, as a society, and as a one-planet community.
Earth Day at the Boys and Girls Club 2019
This event was made possible thanks to Myah and the amazing team at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Victoria, Kem and the Metchosin Biodiversity group and Joel Ussery and the Metchosin Foundation. A big thank you to our Wildwood Wetland Watershed Project Funders including EcoAction, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Metchosin Foundation, and private donors.