How an OWC AGM changed my life

Editor's Note: If awesome prizes, fun games + inspiring stories of watershed restoration aren't enough to get you to our AGM on June 15, how about the potential for a life altering experience? (Not drug induced) Our current ED started her journey with the OWC at an AGM 10 years ago. Read her humourous account below. And register now! http://owcagm2017.eventbrite.ca

By Shannon Frank, OWC Executive Director

What's your watershed story? The moment when you became connected to the Oldman River watershed?

Some people have great stories about fishing in the Oldman's tributaries or camping in our majestic headwaters.

My watershed story began at an Annual General Meeting. The Oldman Watershed Council's second one ever, in 2007.

I was invited by Louella Cronkhite, an educator with Alberta Environment at the time. She was supervising my last Applied Studies Course at the University of Lethbridge where I was learning about community based social marketing and how it could be used to empower homeowners to stop over-watering their lawns.

We interrupt your regular scheduled programming with this important message: Your lawn only needs 1 inch per week! Use a tuna can people. 

We interrupt your regular scheduled programming with this important message:
Your lawn only needs 1 inch per week! Use a tuna can people. 

Ah hem. Getting back to my humble introduction to the Oldman watershed, I had no idea what an AGM was or a watershed for that matter.

I was studying Environmental Science but we did not spend much time talking about watersheds in the courses I took. Or I had forgot.

Like most people I cared deeply, and still do, about the environment and understood that my life depended on it - for the air I breathe, the water I drink and the food I eat. But I did not have a good understanding of the local environmental issues in and around Lethbridge.

My first AGM opened my eyes. Wide.

1859 map by Captain John Palliser. Note the Oldman watershed simply says "arid plains", which he described as "unfit for human habitation". 

1859 map by Captain John Palliser. Note the Oldman watershed simply says "arid plains", which he described as "unfit for human habitation". 

Growing up in Northwestern Ontario I assumed all of Canada had plenty of water. Lakes galore. Not so. Southern Alberta's lakes are mostly reservoirs and it is dry. Might not rain for days or even weeks. I had no idea.

I learned that water is tightly controlled. New water licences are not given out any more because current licences exceed the amount of water in the river in dry years. I was shocked.

Canada has a desert? Who knew? How do people survive without camps on lakes? Saunas and fish smokers? Where had I moved to? What time's the next bus?

I learned that irrigation districts, municipalities, non profits and many others are working together on these issues and have been for many years. I was relieved. Maybe people could survive here.

Since that fateful day so much has changed for me and I am proud to now be managing the OWC because I know how powerful it can be to welcome people in and encourage people to get involved.

I met so many new people that day that taught me new things, opened doors for me and became good friends. If I had not been invited by a mentor or had been too scared to attend I would not now be running the show.

Ten years ago I was welcomed in and starting volunteering. Who knows where your involvment will take you. Or your students, kids or colleagues. Bring others and make sure they know they are more than welcome to join our family.

See you at our 12th AGM on Thursday. Come and share your watershed story with me. I'd love to hear it.

Please register here http://owcagm2017.eventbrite.ca. Bring your kids, students and friends. It could change their life.

Please register here http://owcagm2017.eventbrite.ca. Bring your kids, students and friends. It could change their life.