Marigold Elementary children create habitat for bees in midst of McKenzie Interchange construction

Marigold Planting 2016On November 17th, over 45 students from École Marigold Elementary School broke ground as they dug into the great outdoors with a garden of their very own. A habitat-focused outdoor learning space created through the Green Spots school program by Habitat Acquisition Trust.

“By creating something positive for the students to focus on in the midst of this large McKenzie Interchange construction project, we are bringing their attention to what they can do to support the remaining Garry Oak habitats we have left. The students are very passionate about nature on their school grounds and want to ensure it stays protected for their own enjoyment and learning” says Paige Erickson-McGee, Stewardship Coordinator of HAT.

Empowering young learners to take part in caring for nature, students not only prepared the site for this naturally-inspired meadow of native wildflowers and grasses, the kids have also enthusiastically removed invasive English Ivy (Hedera helix) from Garry Oak habitat on school grounds.

On Thursday, they will plant the native species with bees and butterflies in mind while sipping on native plant tea made from local edibles.

In a collaborative effort between Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT), École Marigold Elementary School, and the District of Saanich, School District #61, students of Marigold get to discover how wildlife habitat can be found and nurtured not only in parks, but all around them, even on their own school grounds.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure allowed a salvage of native plants within the interchange construction area by HAT staff with bulbs planted into the garden.

“The Green Spots program helps kids to foster positive and fun connections to nature through outdoor, hands-on learning. HAT helps by providing students with the opportunity to restore and enhance habitat in their own schoolyard by pulling invasive weeds, digging in the dirt and placing native plants in the ground. These schoolyard naturescaping projects restore natural areas for future generations of outdoor explorers to enjoy” says Jill Robinson, Executive Director of HAT.

marigold 2016 planting photosWith many hands working together, wildflowers like the Camas, Fawn Lilies, and native grasses that once flourished under the majestic Garry Oaks of Marigold’s fields are being brought back by the students. Marigold’s new meadow will provide learning opportunities for the students for many years to come. Pollinators, seasonal changes, and indigenous uses for the plants of the meadow are just a few opportunities to inspire learning, curiosity, and awe.

The meadow will also provide a place for teachers to bring their students to sit and observe nature, paint or draw a spring wildflower, or to ponder why the flowers go dormant over winter.

HAT staff provide plant introductions to the students, and are leading the children through weekly ‘digging parties’ to help get the meadow ready for planting on November 17th.

“We strive to connect students to the meadow project by encouraging them to think about the plants and wildlife who needs them, teaching them about Garry Oaks and making sure they get their hands plenty dirty” says Paige Erickson-McGee.

Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) is coordinating this project through their free outdoor learning program, Green Spots, bringing hands-on natural science learning full-circle from outdoor experiences in park settings to outdoor classrooms on school grounds. The program is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada PromoScience Grant and by the Province of BC through a Community Gaming Grant. Since the beginning of this program HAT has worked with 26 schools and thousands of students to encourage hand’s-on, outdoor learning.

If you would like to support HAT in providing nature education to local kids through the Green Spots program your donations are vital to this good work. Visit hat.bc.ca/donate or call 250-995-2428 to lend your support today.

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Yule-logs - A Story from the Western Painted Turtle's Point of View

wpt alan st johnThe world is changing and we all want to do what we can to make sure that change is for the best. As a community, one of the best things we can do to remain resilient in the face of change is to preserve undisturbed habitat for a diversity of wildlife. As Dr. Richard Hebda said during a recent talk,

“We don’t know what is best suited to the future, so we need to keep all of the parts to be prepared.”

The loss of natural areas, climate change and increase in human disturbances makes life tough for the many wild species and the habitats they ultimately depend on. We need your help to provide natural refuges in the face of change.

(Photo right: taken by Alan St. John)

Can you imagine for a moment what life must be like for our endangered Western Painted Turtles to get by? From a distance, it seems as though a turtle’s life is easy. But if turtles could talk, what would they say?

Let’s put ourselves in their shell…

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Giving Tuesday 4 Paths to Generosity: There's no place like Habitat for the Holidays!

If a shopping frenzy is not exactly aligned with your values as the ideal way to enter the season of giving and celebration, HAT has your back. Giving Tuesday (Nov 28th) is a day to kick off the winter holidays infused with the holiday spirit of seflessness, giving, and looking out for the community.

 

 

In keeping with that spirit of spreading good cheer, we've rounded up four inspirational ways to do good locally and spread cheer this year:

1. Make a donation in support of conservation with HAT

The simplest way to have a direct impact on the preservation of nature is to make a gift from your heart straight to the wild places and species that need it most. It's that simple.

Click here or call in to 250-995-2428 today to enter the holidays with a cheer for conservation and the warm feeling only a gift of good will can give.

Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!

2. Share your #UNselfie

Love them or hate them, it turns out that selfies can be a tool for good. When your selfie shows the kindness and the time you gift to the community, you're showing the world how they can take part too. It's such an easy thing to do, and it may get others thinking about how to give back to the community. So if you feel like sharing, use the hastag #UNselfie and #givingtuesday to give an online gift that costs nothing and just keeps giving.

Post a photo of how you give to the community and feel free to share with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. It could be the inspiration that someone needs to do good too.

3. Give the gift of habitat - Adopt an Acre for wildlife!

Adopt an acre ad 2016You know what they say, "There's no place like home for the holidays!" It's so true, and a huge part of what makes our homes here on the west coast so special is our natural surroundings. You can give animals in this neck of the woods the habitat they need to cozy up with their families too by symbolically adopting an acre.

When you symbolically Adopt an Acre for wildlife to protect, enhance, or restore, you or the person you'd like to give a gift to will receive a certificate of adoption in the mail (or by email).

A wreath or a holiday plant are both traditional gifts, but wouldn't it be even nicer to say you've contributed to the eternal protection of a piece of the local forest or meadow?

These funds will go towards the Land Protection Fund - that will permanently protect habitats for our plants and animals in need of safe and secure place to live.

Your gift is extremely important - it offers immediate resources directed to current needs of native animals, plants, and their habitats at risk of disappearing.

Every living thing requires a home for the holidays and beyond, but our local flora and fauna are rapidly disappearing as human demands on the land increase.

That is why it’s more important than ever to conserve land now, to provide tools to protect and restore nature, to teach future generations about the importance of nature, and their role within it.

How to Adopt an Acre online:

1. Under "Donation Amount" select how many acres you would like to symbolically adopt $50/acre - a steal!

2. Under "Include a message for this charity", you can indicate whether you would like to direct your donation to enhance habitat for wildlife, restore, or protect habitat through the land protection fund.

You can also indicate whether you would like your symbolic adoption certificate to feature a Western Screech Owl | Amphibian | Bat | Blue-grey Taildropper Slug | or Sharptailed Snake as a reminder of the native creatures in need of habitat protection.

3. Under "Dedicate Your Donation" select IN HONOUR OF with recipient name and contact information

You are done!

4. A gift with a positive footprint - Clothing for Conservation with HAT and Hemp & Company

If you're looking for something a little more tangible to give that someone special or place on your wishlist, but still want to make a gift that gives and gives, you don't have to throw shopping off the table entirely. Hemp & Company has partnered with Habitat Acquisiton Trust to offer HAT logo printed organic hemp clothing.

Purchase any Hemp & Company brand clothing online or in store and request the HAT logo printed on it to have 30% of your purchase becomes a gift in support of HAT's conservation programs.

An organic, sustainable, local gift powering conservation, now that's something magical.

Here's how to do it (you don't even have to set foot in a shopping mall):

1. Visit the Hemp & Company store online or in person at 1312 Government Street.

2. Pick your clothing style and colour

3. Request the garment to be printed with the HAT logo in person or by clicking "add to cart" and typing in the "special instructions box". 

4. Celebrate receiving and/or giving a gift that touches the lives of your favourite living beings. Yay!

Whatever your giving style, we know you'll let your generosity shine bright this holiday season. Let's spread joy and cheer with conservation this year!

 

 

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Have you explored employee giving?

pecsfimageMany businesses offer their employees matching gift programs or the option to automatically give a portion of their pay to charity. Have you explored this option with your employer? It's an easy way to support programs in the community over time and typically only needs to be set-up once, saving yourself time so you can do more to save the world!

One example of this kind of program is PECSF or the Provincial Employees Community Services Fund.

Are you or someone you know working for the Province of BC?

Through PECSF provincial employees can select Habitat Acquisition Trust to receive your donations through payroll. With the giving season around the corner, we hope you will consider this easy and impactful method of giving to support habitat protection, enhancement, and restoration for local wildlife and towards a resilient future for our communities. 

You can find a step-by-step guide to signing up for PECSF and how to make a difference with HAT here. Please note: we advise you to keep you thinking HATs on, as the directions are a simplified version. Remember to search for "Habitat Acquisition Trust" when making your giving choice. Thank you for choosing to make a difference with nature preservation!

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Recognizing our volunteer of the month for November: Marlo Shaw

marlo and paigeMarlo Shaw (left) first jumped into volunteering with Habitat Acquisition Trust in 2014 and since then has been an incredible force for the good of nature. From ecological restoration to behind-the-scenes office-based work Marlo does a little bit of everything and it really adds up. 

"I love volunteering for HAT because I get the opportunity to spend time with incredible, knowledgable people in places that I wouldn't normally be able to visit. I feel that HAT's goals and initiatives align with my passions for engaging community members and connecting people to nature. I am so grateful to feel love and support from the HAT staff and I am more than happy to return that same love and support to an organization that I care about," says Marlo.

In September, Marlo returned to volunteering with HAT after some time abroad bringing smiles to all of the HAT staff that had worked closely with her before. Since her return, Marlo has been a part of the 20th Birthday Nature Fundraiser team, preparing the online and silent auction items for HATters eager to bid. Marlo has also been a key player on three habitat restoration events and during outreach events at both UVIC and in Sidney for All Buffleheads Day.

"My favourite moment when volunteering with HAT would have to be a quiet lunch that we had on a beautiful day pulling broom on Camas Hill looking out onto a beautiful Garry Oak Meadow. I was very grateful to be in such a beautiful place with such interesting, hard working people." - Marlo

Her willingness to get involved and follow through with enthusiasm is appreciated so very much by everyone at HAT. We are so pleased to feature you Marlo!

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