Change is in the air

By: Ashlea V., Community & Development Coordinator


From the beginning of my role as Community & Development Coordinator up until now I have changed immensely, both in a professional and personal sense. I have often wondered what I might write to our readers at the end of my time with HAT. After a year and a half with this amazing organization, I have decided to say farewell to this position with HAT in order to pursue my long-time passion for ornithological research. 

With my new-found goals, I will be volunteering at banding stations across the country over the next year and hope to apply for a Canadian Bird Banding Permit by next fall. This will allow me to apply for bird banding positions while contributing to bird migration monitoring and research projects across the country. 

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to HAT for giving me the chance to learn and grow as a professional in the environmental non-profit sector. It has been a privilege, honor and an amazing learning opportunity to be able to work with a team of such supportive and dedicated people for the past year and a half.  My experience here has helped steer me towards continuing a career in the non-profit sector both now and well into the future. I believe non-profits like HAT and bird research stations fill a gap and are an essential part of the success of social and environmental work. I especially want to thank Katie Blake and the whole HAT team for their understanding and complete support of my decision, despite the changes it will bring to the team. I am confident that whomever fills this role in future, in whatever form it may take, will lead HAT to a brighter future and I ask you all to welcome them with open hearts and minds during this transition period. 

I would also like to express my warm wishes to all of the donors, volunteers, consultants and researchers for being so welcoming to me during my time here. I have seen first-hand how your contributions to HAT have made a big difference in the success of HAT's educational, habitat management and stewardship and land protection efforts in the CRD. If I could just ask one more thing of our supporters before I go it would be to please continue to support HAT in any and every capacity you can, while spreading the word about HAT's work to friends and family! This action alone can make all the difference to HAT's continued growth and success in conserving critical habitat areas including the some of the last remaining Coastal Douglas-fir forests on south Vancouver Island. 

Your support can take many forms; from something as simple as using HAT's Gardening with Native Plants Guide to create habitat at home for local pollinators, to becoming a member, making donations or designated major gifts, to joining HAT's Legacy Circle, and reporting sightings of at-risk species to volunteering with HAT, there are just so many fantastic ways to participate the success of this amazing organization - and I encourage you all to do so.


Ashlea Veldhoen


Read more: Change is in the air

Joe Richardson...A Donor's Legacy

By: Ashlea V, Community & Development Coordinator


It is one of the many privileges of working for HAT to be able to meet and get to know the wonderful supporters of our organization. Joe Richardson was one such donor, and though I met him only once, I bore witness to his dedication to conservation as gifts made to HAT in Joe's memory began to come in one by one after his passing in April. You see, it was Joe's wish that gifts be made to HAT after his passing demonstrating his commitment to our organization even after he could no longer help us carry out our mission himself. We are incredibly honored to have been in Joe's final wishes.

Since April, a total of $430 in gifts have been made to HAT from Joe's friends and family across the country, which will make a big difference for our programs in most need. Not only that, but these gifts also ensure that Joe's memory will live on forever through the conservation work we do. 

In a recent thank-you call I had with his wife Anne Richardson, I expressed HAT's condolences and also our genuine appreciation for Anne & Joe's contributions to our organization over the last number of years. When I asked Anne why she and her Late husband chose to continue supporting HAT's mission for conservation, Anne answered that she and Joe "like to support HAT because the organization is local, and mostly run by the younger generations coming up behind them" and that both Anne and Joe "felt it was important to support the up and coming generations because they will be the ones continuing the work going forward."

As a member of the "up and coming" generation Anne referred to, I was moved by her response and felt energized by her enthusiasm and was motivated to share her story with our readers. I believe that I speak for the entire organization when I say we are so grateful to Anne for sharing her story during such a difficult time. It is an honor to have the support of such caring people, and I believe it demonstrates that everyone can make a real difference for conservation both now and long into the future by sharing their support of HAT with others. 

Article written in memory of Joe Richardson. 

If you'd like to send HAT a gift in Joe's memory, please click the button below.


Read more: Joe Richardson...A Donor's Legacy

Welcoming some new friendly faces to the HAT Team!

Welcome, summer interns! 

This summer, we are please to have two stellar summer interns, Nicole da Silva and Ronna Woudstra

Nicole da Silva

Nicole is studying biology and environmental studies at Uvic. She is passionate about wildlife and conservation. Having grown up in Victoria, she is thrilled to be contributing to the environmental stewardship of the Victoria area while working for HAT.

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Nicole on one of the first covenant monitoring site visits of 2019 (left) and with HAT's Land Protection Coordinator, Barb von Sacken (right)

Ronna Woudstra 

Ronna is of Irish and Dutch decent and is currently residing in unceded Lekwungen territory, now known as the Shelbourne community. She is a recent University of Victoria graduate with a BSc. in Biology and a minor in Anthropology. Throughout her studies she focused on ecosystems, ecology, plant biochemistry, and how we as humans understand and conceptualize the physical world around us. In her extracurricular life she is a soccer player, pianist, painter, and a disc golf enthusiast who finds joy in being outside and exploring nature with her dog, Lily.


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Ronna with HAT's Stewardship Coordinator, Paige Erickson-McGee (left) and removing Scotch Broom from a restoration site (right)




Read more: Welcoming some new friendly faces to the HAT Team!

Volunteer Spotlight June 2019 - Alf Birch

In this month's Volunteer Spotlight, we'd like to highlight Alf Birch, a long-time and loyal HAT volunteer. Alf recently returned from a short hiatus and has come back with new zeal and endless energy! From helping out with this year's Annual General Meeting in January, to owl monitoring, to helping with Earth Day at the Boys and Girls Club, and even more behind the scenes work besides, Alf has been a big part of our recent successes in outreach and monitoring.

We asked Alf what keeps him coming back to HAT after years of volunteering and what first inspired him to begin volunteering with us:

What was it about HAT that made you want to get involved?

"I find HAT's activities are very practical, effective and hands-on.  I really enjoy rolling up my sleeves and getting involved in a variety of field work.  Over time I've seen the impact that HAT volunteers are having on conservation covenant properties and many other areas where landowners are taking steps to preserve nature features.  I also very much enjoy working with HAT staff and other volunteers. This is a wonderful community of people who care deeply about our natural environment and about educating people about the role that we can all play.  I continue to learn about the ecology of this region and about how people can come together to preserve and enhance it."

What has been your favourite experience volunteering with HAT so far?

"There have been so many great experiences in working with HAT over serveral years.  Travelling to Senanus Island in Saanich Inlet to pull English Ivy, hiking in the Sooke Hills to monitor HAT covenants, counting bats on a summer evening at an incredible maternal colony in Metchosin, listening for Screech Owls on a cold night on Willis Point Road and many others.  I guess what tie these together and what I enjoy most are the camaraderie of the HAT community and the sense of making a small but very important contribution to what I believe is important."

Thank you for your hard work, dedication and commitment to our organization. It is a priviledge to have you on board and we are very happy to recognize your support of our organization through our volunteer spotlight this month.


If you'd like to experience what volunteering with HAT is all about, watch for opportunities in the Volunteer Opportunities Section of our E-news or get in touch with us!



Owl(s) be home for summer!


May 27, 2019

This year has already become very promising for our Western Screech-owls. With one next box occupied by a pair and 3 (possibly 4) chicks in Maple Bay in the Cowichan Valley, and another in the Highlands with 3 chicks.

 As the monitoring season continues we are hopeful that more Western Screech-owl pairs will have taken up residence in HAT nestboxes around the CRD. For more information on how you can get involved or to learn more about threats to the Western Screech-owl, visit our website.

Image above: Cowichan nest with chicks circled in green. PC: Madrone Consulting. 

*These nests are monitored by HAT and biologists with Madrone Consulting. Western Screech-owls (kennicottii subspecies, on Vancouver Island) is listed as a species of Special Concern based on the May 2002 COSEWIC assessments. In British Columbia, the species and active nests are protected from direct harm under the Wildlife Act; the macfarlanei subspecies is on the British Columbia Red List (potentially Threatened or Endangered) and the kennicottii subspecies is on the Blue List (Special Concern).

Videos and images produced and shared with permission from Madrone Consulting.


Cowichan Nest, May 6, 2019

Highlands Nest, May 11, 2019



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