Volunteer Spotlight July 2019 - Stephen Brown and the 2nd Fort Victoria Scouts

 HAT would like to appreciate a dedicated group of volunteers who have contributed to the Habitat Stewardship for Species at Risk Program, the 2nd Fort Victoria Scouts.

The Scouts have been dedicated to monitoring for owls on their Camp property, as well as initiating restoration projects and building beautiful Western Screech-owl nesting boxes.

One of their leaders, Stephen (Steve) Brown, has put in extra volunteer effort to support HAT’s wildlife habitat enhancement structures. From bird boxes that keep out invasive species, to amphibian monitoring boards, Stephen has had a hand in making so many new homes for animals like Western Screech Owls. Steve has been involved with Scouts for 9 years. He is a professional product designer and has a passion for design, building, and helping the community.

Thank you to Steve and the 2nd Fort Victoria Scouts for all of their efforts!

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 below or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with us! 

Covenant Monitoring Fun!

It's summer, and that means covenant monitoring season is in full swing. Since May, our Land Protection Coordinator Barb von Sacken has wrangled up a team of interns and volunteers to accompany her on monitoring visits on our covenant lands. 

Alf & Annika Photo by: Barb von Sacken (2019) 

This year, three main volunteers Annika Meijer, Alf Birch and Karen Yearsley, and our two interns Nicole da Silva and Ronna Woudstra, have worked tirelessly to collect data to not only assess the overall status of the natural areas within the covenant, but also monitoring for compliance with the terms of the agreement. However, for our Interns and volunteers this work is more than just walking around with a clipboard and taking notes. It opens a whole world of wonders in which they can become fully immersed during their time in the field. 

After one of their last forays into the wilderness on covenant lands, our volunteer Annika offered to share a story with our readers based on her experiences. 

Making paper out of pulp made with laurel-leaved Daphne. Photo by: Liz Belcher (2019)

"Covenant monitoring with HAT has been such a rich experience with a lot of unexpected extra rewards. Just last week, a landowner gave us a tour of their little paper-making workshop they have in their residence, where they turn invasive species into beautiful journals", she says. "It was a crisp and breezy summer day on the property that backed onto a lake; a covenant composed of a patchwork of riparian, meadow and forest habitat. Each of these habitats were rich in native species and made lovely homes for the families of owls and swallows that reside there. The landowners and HAT have done a great job of keeping invasive [plants] back, allowing a large diversity of native species to establish and thrive. It was a perfect example of the preservation of a wild area within a city."

Conservation covenants allow us to preserve nature in perpetuity while individuals maintain title of their land. As much of what remains of endangered Coastal Douglas-fir and Garry Oak meadow habitats are on privately-owned land, conservation covenants this means covenants are one of the most important tools we have for ensuring and creating contiguous protected habitat HAT's focus areas. From learning and witnessing the growth of native plants, birds and butterflies to meeting the wonderful people that have dedicated their lands to nature in perpetuity, our interns and volunteers always have so much to share with us after their monitoring.   


Read more: Covenant Monitoring Fun!

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!

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