Article by Amber Gregg –
The past few months have been busy here at the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society (CCCS) in Williams Lake. There is a faint light at the end of the pandemic tunnel; however, our team has become comfortable adapting to health and safety guidelines as we teach classes, plan projects, and attend small events. We have accomplished so much in the past few months, in fact, that activity around CCCS has started to feel almost normal. If I had to guess, I would say that part of that feeling is because of the partnerships we have formed with like-minded organizations and businesses, which make it seem like we are hardly lifting a finger yet accomplishing a lot.
Many of you know Jenny Howell, CCCS executive director and Water Wise instructor. Each year, Jenny collaborates with fellow educators at Scout Island Nature Centre, Invasive Species Council, and the Air Quality Roundtable to provide presentations that prepare School District 27 grade 7 students for the Earth Challenge Quiz, held virtually. Teachers offer additional support for their students to give them the best chance of scoring well, and they can get pretty competitive. Winning classes choose from a list of field trips as their prize, including the highly coveted field trip to the Gavin Lake Forest Education Centre. Everyone that takes part in Earth Challenge is so enthusiastic, it almost doesn’t feel like work.
Most years, the Cariboo Potters Guild organizes the popular Empty Bowls fundraiser. Locally made pottery bowls are purchased by donation and served with delicious soup, with proceeds donated to charities who serve to feed those in need. Instead of getting together as a group this year, CCCS partnered with the Guild to host a covid-safe version of the event. Those who wanted to purchase a bowl were invited to visit one of the two awesome host locations during the entire month of March. Those locations were the Bean Counter and Mint & Lime Catering. The wide variety of beautiful, hand-crafted bowls made by members of the Guild were distributed to each location and were quickly snapped up by residents. Over $3,000 was raised and donated to the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul food banks. What worked well with this event is that each business was able to focus on their strong suit. The Potters made their beautiful bowls, CCCS was able to promote the event with an emphasis on zero waste and food security, and our fabulous host locations focused on serving their customers!
Celebrated each year on April 22, people all over the world acknowledge Earth Day by participating in activities, such as litter-pick events and getting outside. For Earth Day 2021, CCCS wanted to provide a different activity for Puddle residents to participate in each day throughout the week. To add to the fun, participants had an opportunity to win a corresponding draw prize, such as LED lights and locally made candles for Lights Out, Farmer’s Market bucks for Plant Something, and FullFILL gift certificates for participating in a litter pick-up. To enter, participants were asked to post a photo of themselves completing the activities. There were over 50 entries total, and we gave away a total of nine prizes. In addition to these activities, we teamed up with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Trevor Bigg, FullFILL, the City of Williams Lake, and the Lion’s Club and hosted a socially distant litter-pick in the downtown core. Over 50 people took part and collected over 70 kg of trash in only one hour! These activities were so much fun we already have plans to do them again in 2022.
In 2020, our volunteer board of directors completed development on our Hydrology Trail in the Williams Lake Community Forest. In May of this year, we had our first Water Wise field trip at the trail, which features stops along the way and provides information about forest ecosystems and riparian areas. The kids enjoyed the educational activities led by our Water Wise instructor and were treated to lunch by the water. May and June were equally busy for our Waste Wise team, Oliver Berger and Mary Forbes, who performed waste audits with the City of Williams Lake and the Cariboo Regional District to reduce recycling contamination in Williams Lake and the 108 Mile Ranch areas. They also provided bikes and bike repairs at this year’s Bike Rodeo, hosted two Free Your Things weekends and a Chair Repair event with Fox Mountain Urban Upcycle, and took part in Bike to Work week with the Air Quality Round Table.
Forming strong and positive partnerships stretches non-profit resources, such as funding and volunteers. In my experience, they also make the work easier and much more enjoyable, resulting in better overall participation and feelings of success. We do our best to keep our Facebook page and website up to date with our activities to make sure that you can join in the fun.
Amber is the coordinator for the Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society. When she is not working on spreadsheets or supporting the CCCS team, she enjoys getting outdoors with her husband and two boys. Visit CCCS at www.ccconserv.org or the CCCS Facebook page to learn more about CCCS education programs and community projects.