Well, it seems the time has come. The leaves outside of our office are starting to change colour, and our Seasonal Outreach Assistants are already preparing for our return to school. It’s been a whirlwind for us, spending 14 straight weekends camping in the backcountry!
As part of the Engaging Recreationists project, it was our duty to interact with folks throughout the headwaters, from Beaver Mines Lake in the south all the way up to Indian Graves in the north. Countless hours were spent discussing current environmental issues, covering both the positive and negative aspects of such. Though there were a few tense moments, the majority of campers were very hospitable to our crew! In many cases, what began as a brief 10-minute conversation ended up lasting well over an hour, focusing on issues such as land management, watershed health, enforcement protocols, designated trail systems, bridge use, and responsible camping practices. Overall, it was a pleasure to interact with such a variety of people!
In addition to recreationist interaction, our team was involved in a variety of exciting programs. We were able to collect and log tons of environmental data through our EpiCollect GPS system, which will hopefully assist in future land management planning. We were involved in a handful of community garbage clean-ups, but also kept a trash bag on hand in case we ran into some! We tested the effectiveness of signage to encourage people to use bridges. We also teamed up with Alberta Parks to educate the public about various watershed issues. Visiting campgrounds throughout the headwaters, we were able to show people the importance of native fish and the aquatic invertebrates they feed on.
Many appearances were made to all sorts of community events around Lethbridge, including invasive weed pulls, Play Clean Go, Canada Day at Henderson Lake, Helen Schuler Nature Day, Keen for Green, and many more! Community involvement is a cornerstone of the Oldman Watershed Council, and our crew were out and about all summer, ready to spread the word of environmental health!
Though our work as Outreach Assistants was just for the summer, we hope our dedicated commitment to our mission was appreciated. We will move on to pursue other dreams, but the summer spent at the OWC will stick with us for years to come! Farewell!
Editor's Note: We would like to express our sincere thanks to the Outreach Assistants! L-R in this photo: Ryan Bell, Nicola Spencer, Thomas Porter and Rob Taylor. You have changed hearts and minds, inspired, taught and learned. The challenges you faced were not insignificant, and many times solutions had to be found in the moment. We value your enthusiasm, teamwork and love for our Oldman watershed. All best wishes for now and always! - Shannon, Sofie, Taren, Larin and Anna at the OWC.