Editor’s Note: It’s that time of year again… the end of summer, when we wrap up our seasonal outreach and bid a fond farewell to our Outreach Assistants, Dorothy and Dylan. We’ve asked them to reflect on their summer with OWC by answering a few questions.
What did you see/hear out in the backcountry this summer?
DOROTHY: I saw a lot of people concerned with doing the wrong thing. So many people that we talked to love the watershed and want to be good stewards but weren’t sure how or were scared of doing the wrong thing. I’m glad people are being respectful of the watershed. I hope that our work this summer helped answer some of the questions people had.
DYLAN: Everyone who we met showed some kind of love or appreciation for the environment that they lived, played or worked in and they all wanted to make sure that this was still available in the future. Although many people had different ideas for what it meant to keep their areas safe and had different ideas of what should be done for the environment, everyone was looking out for their best interests.
What kind of impact do you think you had?
DOROTHY: I think we definitely sparked some bug love in some of our audiences. There is this ‘ah-ha’ moment that I live for in environmental education. When you’re talking with someone and something clicks for them. In that moment you can see that they’ll remember this conversation and change their actions for the better or share a similar message in their circles. We had a few of those.
DYLAN: I’m hoping that we managed to inspire some people to become more active in their environment, both enjoying it more and being champions for its health. With all the kids that came by our tables at events, I like to think that some of them found an appreciation for the environment and maybe some will pursue a career in this field.
Which of your job-related activities was your favourite?
DOROTHY: I liked connecting with people the best. Whether that be at a point duty or a weed pull. I really enjoyed learning why people love our watershed and sharing my love too.
DYLAN: My favorite days were the ones we spent in the field, be it weed pulls or restoration events. But really, who can complain with getting paid while enjoying the outdoors.
What was the highlight / most memorable moment of the summer?
DOROTHY: I worked with the Barons School on their Great Waters Challenges with Waterlution during the 2017/18 school year, and for their final challenge they raised money for a party and donated the extra to OWC. One of our first trips was going to thank them and play some games and do some presenting to their class. That was a really fun way to celebrate the kids’ hard work and wrap up the Challenges.
DYLAN: The Blueweed Blitz in the M.D of Pincher Creek was probably my highlight of the summer. Being able to see and talk to so many people who are interested in bettering the health of the watershed was really inspiring. Also the networking there was awesome; it really is a great way to get to know other people in the field.
What’s next? What was something new you learned or skills you developed that will help you in your career?
DOROTHY: I’m returning to school at the U of L to continue my Environmental Science undergraduate degree. I still plan on heading into environmental public education (in some form). I think this position in the OWC was great because I got to plan my own point duty from start to finish, including brainstorming and building my own educational materials. It was challenging at times to think of all the angles, not just the ones I like or know best.
DYLAN: I’ll be going into my 4th year of Environmental Science at the U of L. After finishing this I plan on working as a wildlife manager or in the reclamation and restoration field. So if anyone has any job openings I’m all ears! Interacting with the public, delivering science that not all people may agree with, and public writing have all been big learning points for me this summer. Before this summer I had limited experience with these things; however I now feel much more comfortable with them moving forward.
Write your own question and response!
Q: What were your favourite wildflower and wildlife sightings on the job this summer?
A: I probably liked Silky Lupine (Lupinus sericeus) best because it was all over for the first couple of months and it was so pretty. And Western Boreal Toads (Anaxyrus boreas)! I had never seen them before; that was very cool.
Q: What was your least favorite weed to pull?
A: Burdock, it would never pull out in one piece.
Final message to folks in the watershed?
DOROTHY: Go out and explore your watershed. It doesn’t have to be far; water is everywhere! Get to know the plants, the animals, the bugs. How do they work together? Do they work together? Be curious, ask questions, keep learning.
DYLAN: Our watershed has some of the most beautiful places in the world, and I think more people need to go experience them and preserve them. Get off the beaten path and explore your watershed!