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Not a Joiner? Me Neither
September 16, 2020
From James Posynick, Chair of KCDCS
I’m no youngster. I’ve been around. Spent my teens wondering what to do with my life just like many today. I had a lot of different jobs, worked a lot of places, got married and started a family. My wife Terry and I lived in Yellowknife, north of the 60th parallel, by then. Both of us worked to house and feed our family. When we weren’t working we spent much of our time in the out-of-doors.
Living in a mining town (Yellowknife had one huge gold mine in town and another on the outskirts) raised my awareness of the fragility of our natural environment. I saw two possible futures for our children: one that was marked by the unregulated use of land in the name of ‘progress’ and another that was marked by collaboration between and among people, industries and governments to protect and preserve natural spaces in the name of ‘healthy societies’.
My wife and I decided to be change agents and advocates for that second possible future. We dipped our toes in community work and found it not only satisfying but inspiring to work with others who share our goals and perspectives.
Our interest and involvement in community work continued when we moved to this beautiful valley in 2005-6. One of the compelling reasons we moved here was the presence of the magnificent wetland and interpretive centre. It was apparent to us that both were sources of pride for members of this community. In 2015 when I was asked to join a new society whose Mission was to build a new centre, I was ready for the challenge.
Should I become a member of the Kootenay-Columbia Discovery Centre Society?
If you live in this valley and associate with its people, work and play here or are enjoying retirement, you are already a ‘joiner’. You have already joined a community, the valley community that has for the past 45+ years taken pride in its wetland and wildlife area and the environmental education programs and activities held there.
So the act of joining KCDCS as a new member is not very different from being a member of this community. All you need to do is give us your name and contact information (usually an email and/or a mailing address). We will protect your privacy. We will send you a monthly newsletter containing information about our progress and planned activities and events. You may vote at general meetings and elect board members. You may give us your ideas, thoughts, comments and suggestions. Input from community members is always well-received! If you choose to volunteer to help us with events, and activities you will be rewarded with new friendships and, very likely, new learning experiences!
Maybe you believe in the importance of our work but remain hesitant to join KCDCS. Here is another, reason your membership is important: with a strong showing of community support for the new Discovery Centre, our chances of success will increase exponentially. Governments, businesses, donors and private foundations will in turn support us financially and we will be able to continue current programs and build a new Discovery Centre.
Really? Does community support mean that much? In 1995 when the Federal Government withdrew funding from the Interpretive Centre altogether and the Province cut its funding in-half, your community raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to save it! This project is a ‘community’ project. Be a part of this wonderful project. Join us now!
Community Collaboration is the Key to Success
When you become a member of KCDCS, you will be joining others of diverse economic, cultural and political interests living in the Kootenay-Columbia Region who share an interest in protecting and preserving the well-being of our environment generally and, in particular, wetlands located throughout the Region. It is a community that believes environmental education and awareness programs and activities are vital to achieving those goals now and in the future. It is a community that recognizes the importance of working together to make decisions that will achieve the best possible results for the Creston Valley and the region. This is the essence of Community Collaboration.
KCDCS is fortunate to have established some collaborative relationships with organizations in the Valley e.g. with the Columbia Basin Trust, Creston Valley Wildlife Management Authority, Wildsight and others. We are also doing our best to develop mutually beneficial relationships with governments and other organizations whose input, energy and expertise can contribute to our success. For example, we believe the creation of a new Discovery Centre and the development of exciting, new environment education programs will be significantly enhanced by working with First Nations, especially the members of our community who are Ktunaxa and members of the Lower Kootenay Band. There is much to learn from their traditions, environmental knowledge and experience.
Community collaboration is a democratic process. It is inclusive. Dialogue is crucial. The free and respectful exchange of ideas followed by research and informed decision-making uplifts participants and establishes relationships that last. We hope this project will create new and, perhaps, heal damaged relationships, all in aid of our Mission to provide environmental education and awareness programs and our Vision of a new Discovery Centre.
Be a part of the Legacy! Join us now!
Environmental Education is in Danger of Disappearing
July 16, 2020
From James Posynick, Chair of KCDCS
As governments around the world try to keep the wheels of industry turning and people working, mounting debt threatens venerable programs and institutions that enhance our quality of life and offer security against future life-threatening circumstances including climate change, economic collapse and disease. Those programs and institutions are now more important than ever, especially those that provide the foundation for understanding the complex relationship between humans and nature.
When the post-war (my) generation went to school, the emphasis was on getting an education that would lead to a good job with high pay and inclusion in the looming age of technology. The ‘good life’, including a single family house, a nice car, annual vacations and retirement income, was the dangling carrot that kept our noses to the grindstone. In the meantime the weather got worse, flooding and droughts became the norm, millions of people were displaced, economic disparities contributed to social unrest and violence and, inevitably some say, to a world-wide pandemic.
Like most of the people from my generation, my education had almost no environmental content. Only after my children were born did I realize what a mistake it would be to raise them without helping them understand the relationship between our natural environment and past, present and future human experience. My family is lucky to live in northern Canada, has aboriginal friends and easy access to wilderness. Our environmental education was a cross-cultural experience, learned first-hand. Today, for largely economic reasons, most Canadians “experience” nature on television, at the movies or for a few weeks on vacation.
I get it. I understand. Humans need money to live and large urban centres are where the economic action is. But humans also need to be more than mere observers (or social media critics) of emerging environmental issues that affect our and our children’s future. We need to do some things. One of those ‘things’ is to ensure that decisions about the future are well informed and broadly considered. Why? So succeeding generations can speak confidently, knowledgeably and passionately about the need for a respectful, protective relationship with nature rather than one based on human dominance and blind destructiveness. Through institutions like the former Wildlife Interpretive Centre and the present Kootenay-Columbia Discovery Centre, both children and adults can learn the skills and gain the knowledge necessary to advocate for a relationship with nature grounded in stewardship and forward looking decision-making.
If you think having a Discovery Centre is redundant or a luxury because there are a lot of similar institutions around that will speak for you and future generations, think again. The July 13th edition of the Smithsonian Magazine notes the closing of 63% of environmental education and outdoor science schools due to the pandemic and the fear among educators that they will never open again. They served millions of K-12 learners. According to research cited in the article, those learners benefit “from increased environmental stewardship and awareness… improved social, academic, physical and psychological health”. Further, “nature-based learning has shown to be more effective than traditional teaching, to increase attention spans and reduce stress”. Do you want our future decision-makers to be environmentally knowledgeable and capable of taking into account the social and physical health of everyone?
Our own research has shown that environmental education centres in Canada are largely financed by government. Will that continue post-pandemic? It might. KCDCS will look primarily to government, industry and like-minded financial institutions to support our mission. But you can help us continue the 45+ year tradition of excellence in environmental education in the Creston Valley, in at least three ways:
1. Speak/email/text to your local, regional, provincial and federal politicians about the importance of keeping our programs and replacing the former Interpretive Centre with a modern facility.
2. Make a tax-deductible donation or bequest.
3. MOST IMPORTANTLY we need you to help us increase our membership. Our target is to have 5,000 new members by April 1st, 2021. You can help! Go to the Membership page and sign-up. Tell your friends, relatives and business associates about this worthwhile cause.
JOIN US NOW! IT IS FREE!
Creston Valley Bird-a-thon
May 12th, 2020
Results are in! The Creston Valley Bird Festival organized a Bird-a-thon in Creston on May 9th, International Migratory Bird Day and the scheduled weekend for the Festival (which was cancelled due to COVID-19). Birders took to the Valley, social distancing practices in place of course, and found 134 species. CV Bird Fest wishes to thank to all Valley birders who headed out in the beautiful sunshine to find the following:
Great Blue Heron
Swainson’s Hawk – possible
Rough-legged Hawk – possible
Eurasian Collared Dove
Great Horned Owl
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Respectful Use of the Wetland and Respecting Fellow Visitors
May 1, 2020
From Carla Ahern, Senior Manager
As the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic continue, we are all seeking to deal and live with these new normals. And with no known end in sight, many of us are unsure about how to deal with all this in a way that keeps us sane! Many people turn to nature for respite, rejuvenation and recharging of “batteries”. Whether you are feeling isolated at home or overwhelmed at work, nature can provide a way to find peace and physical and mental nourishment.
As a result of nature being a popular choice for leisure activity, now probably more than ever, we are seeing larger numbers of people accessing recreation sites. This means more impacts on existing trail (hiking, biking) and waterway (kayaking, boating) networks as well as the ecosystems they reside in.
Access advisory for the wetland
The Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area (CVWMA) issued an advisory to users to refrain from entering onto the CVWMA until further notice, in an attempt to mitigate associated risks to human health due to the coronavirus. While many may not understand or appreciate this closure and limits to access, the decision was based on the best interest of everyone’s health and well-being.
If you chose to still access the CVWMA, they issued guidelines asking you to comply with all applicable physical and social distancing and other health and safety guidelines issued by relevant governments and governmental departments and agencies.
Impacts due to increased use
The CVWMA has seen increased use of the area in the past month, as have other natural areas. Impacts on the wetland ecosystem itself has been evident. Many people are recreating with their dogs and while many leash and pick up after their pets, many do not. At a time when migratory birds are resting and feeding and other birds are nesting, impacts of loose dogs can cause major stress and disturbance to these species. And the amount of dog poop and dog poop bags that litter the trails is a little…gross.
Exploring off the established trails is another impact…this again can disturb the variety of wildlife that are using the area to rest, feed, hide and reproduce. They tend to stay away from the trails and we should stay away from the areas they use.
And then there is vandalism…with increased use seems to come increased destruction. The CVWMA swallow nest box lids were ripped off dozens of houses (volunteers took the initiative to replace them, thank you!), caution tape on benches and towers were removed and the amount of garbage along the trails has increased.
Respect and connect
We all know we should respect nature and each other. And in a time of crisis such as we are in now, it is more important than ever before to support, help, connect with and respect our fellow community members and our local environment. If we all do our part, we will make it through these trying times and our environment and wildlife will not be worse for the wear because of it.
Your neighbourhood and beyond
We are lucky that from all neighbourhoods and communities in our Valley we can just walk out of our front doors and access beautiful vistas, breath fresh air and get the needed physical activity we crave.
The Creston Valley Trail Society has a list of local trails and some of those might be worth exploring if you feel the need to venture a little father from your neighbourhood. Just be smart about accessing the outdoors. If a parking area is full or there are lots of people on that particular trail than maybe that is not the best time to access that area and you could try another day when it is less busy. If you do access a trail, respect social and physical distancing guidelines. Stay on designated trails to limit your impact on the local flora and fauna. And finally, leash your pet to minimize stress to wildlife. I think if we make these few conscious efforts, nature can nurture us and we can nurture nature.
Covid-19 and Environmental Education
Bog Blog Post
April 15, 2020
From James Posynick, Chair of KCDCS
So much has happened since my last blog. The Interpretive Centre is gone. Covid-19 arrived. We closed our school programs for May and June. The CVWMA closed the wetland to visitors.
The Interpretive Centre served as an environmental education and awareness resource for the valley and visitors from B.C. and all over the world. Now only a large mud pie remains where it stood for more than 45 years.
We at KCDC have worked to preserve the tradition of using the wetland as a classroom for environmental learning, since 2015. It seemed particularly important to do so in light of the science demonstrating the potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change. We managed to obtain funding for a trailer-size classroom and set it in the parking lot. We continued relationships with organizations and people that generally supported and funded our programs. We established new relationships, too. We developed a modern, cross-cultural model for a new Discovery Centre to be built on the wetland.
Then along came Covid-19, a health catastrophe and, with it, a macro-economic melt-down.
Keeping our doors closed for all or most of the summer season means a lot of school children will lose the opportunity to experience hands-on learning on the wetland. In 2019 we hosted 1,181 students, 5,061 visitors and more than 1200 people attended camps, special events and canoe tours. This year, possibly, zero.
The closure means a huge revenue loss for us. While we have some program funding in place for the next two years, this is the year we hoped to take the next steps toward the development of a new, multi-functional, technologically modern and barrier-free Discovery Centre. Our support group, including governments, public agencies, private foundations and individuals will also have suffered economic losses. For organizations like ours, there may be little or no money to support existing, much less, new projects.
From the outset, this has been no small undertaking. The Board is a committed group, though, because we see the incredible societal value in offering environmental education and awareness programs. To cut to the chase: if the prospect of environmental catastrophe hastened by Climate Change is not convincing, Covid-19 demonstrates to combat threats to humanity, we need a well-informed, responsible citizenry, skilled at critical thinking and making well-considered decisions that affect them and their fellow community members. Children and young adults who participate in environmental education studies fit that description according to a 20 year study of the impacts of environmental education on K-12 students. Clearly, environmental education is a key element in building the capacity of communities to meet challenges of all kinds. Learners not only gain an appreciation for our natural world and the need for stewardship of it, the skills they learn prepare them to become the community leaders of tomorrow.
We want to continue in pursuit of a new Discovery Centre. The project itself has great potential to bring the peoples of our valley together for the common good today and in the future. When a memorable building is actual built it will bring educational, social and economic benefits to the valley and the entire region.
We hope you support this project. We want to hear from you. If you need further information, use the contact information below. If you can support us with a donation, please visit our website at www.discovery-centre.ca or send an email to email@example.com for further information. If you represent a foundation or an industry with an interest in becoming a partner in this wonderful enterprise, please call our Senior Manager @ 250-254-0708 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can do this together, for our children and for the safety and security of everyone.
 Primary study author: Ardoin, N. M., Bowers, A. W., Roth, N. W.,& Holthuis, N. (2016). Environmental education and K–12 student outcomes: A review and analysis of research. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Message from the Senior Manager
March 31, 2020
From Carla Ahern, Senior Manager
We hope that all our partners, colleagues and patrons are staying healthy during this pandemic. It is trying times as we all make attempts to adapt and alter our usual ways of doing things.
At KCDCS, we are working towards finding ways to keep you engaged and learning in a time where we cannot afford the luxury of getting together with friends and sometimes even family. Getting outdoors is one of the ways that we can work to keep our bodies and brains healthy! We all know that fresh air helps in any circumstance to make one feel refreshed and rejuvenated. Something that is needed now more than ever.
We are lucky that there are many places in our Valley where we can get out for a walk and not be around others, or if there are others, remaining a safe distance away is doable. The trails at the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area remain open. With over 30kms of dyke trails covering a large portion of the Valley bottom, there is lots of opportunity for adventure!
Access to trails is available at all sanctioned CVWMA access points except from the Discovery Centre parking lot – at the moment. The old Wildlife Centre was demolished this past February and the CVWMA and KCDCS are working to get access back at this location as soon as we can (floating bridge is on order and if weather cooperates this will hopefully happen towards the end of April). We are encouraging people who want to explore the trails around the Centre to use the Balancing Rock parking lot.
KCDCS is working to develop and link you to activities, ideas and variety of resources to help you gain the most out of an outdoor adventure! For families, adults and kids…from scavenger hunts to bird identification checklists to crafts and stories…It can be indoor and outdoor, from window to wetlands…we hope to aid you in promoting healthy activities for body and soul!
So stay tuned to our Facebook page, join our eNews list, check back to our website – we are in process of redoing our website so stayed tuned for wonderful changed on that front! Our new website will have a great list on links and resources for you to use in the coming months.
Take care everyone. Be fastidious and wash those hands! Video chat and call people to connect…we are lucky for a virtual world when it comes to the variety of avenues that we can use to communicate with the greater community near and far, so use those channels!
And hopefully we will see you, from a distance, in the wetlands as you plan your next outdoor adventure!