Return of Sea Squirts: Stories & Activities 11:00-12:00pm Nov 7th – Nov 28th,

The Nature Centre is so happy to announce the return of our new nature program.

Sea Squirts is a FREE, drop-in nature program where parents and their pre-school aged children and infants can come together to connect with each other, learn about nature in fun and engaging ways, and support the development of early literacy skills.

Lead by our amazing, superstar Nature Centre volunteer Kerrie Talbot, a retired Early Childhood Educator and Library Assistant. It’s grounded in nature stories and learning with a strong social and emotional health component.

Hope to see you there!


Larry’s 70th Birthday “Dare to be Wild” Fundraiser

Larry’s 70th Birthday “Dare to be Wild” Fundraiser

On December 20th, Larry Lenske, the Nature Centre’s treasurer and one of our most long-standing and dedicated volunteers, turns 70!  He’s decided to do a fundraising campaign for the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre to mark the occasion.

Larry has been crunching numbers for the Nature Centre since our first development grant applications were submitted in 2011, and for every budget and financial statement since we opened our doors on Earth Day in 2012.  If there is anyone who truly understands how critical core operational funding is for a small non-profit to do its work in the world, it’s Larry.  He’s also come to think of his work with the Nature Centre as a piece of his climate change work.

Larry’s Fundraising Goal: Larry’s goal is to raise $5,000 by his birthday to support the Estuary Nature Centre in continuing to provide people, and especially young people, with experiential nature education and opportunities to engage in hands-on watershed restoration work on the banks of the Cowichan and Koksilah rivers and the Cowichan estuary where these rivers meet the ocean. In one week at the end of November we had over 80 grades 5-6 kids out doing riparian restoration work in the Cowichan Watershed and learning about eco-systems and climate impacts, and what we can do about them.

Ways to donate:

  1. Click here to make an online tax deductible donation
  2. Send a cheque made out to the “Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre” to CENC, (1845 Cowichan Bay Rd, Cowichan Bay, BC V0R 1N2)
  3. Bring cash or your cheque book to the birthday party on December 20th (see below)

Witness Dares and Win Prizes! To keep things interesting Larry has accepted some swimmingly cold “dares”.

If we raise $3,000, he will bungee jump nude into the Nanaimo River in March (Bonus: this is also a fundraiser for the BC Schizophrenic Society.) 

If we raise $5,000, on winter Solstice, December 21st, Larry will swim from the Kayak Launch at the Cowichan Marine Gateway to the beach at the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre. He’ll be looking for a Cheering Section and Witnesses, and paramedics will definitely be welcome. Larry says he’s really hoping we raise $4,999.

And There Are Prizes! Every person who makes a donation of $500 or more will get to choose one of the following prizes:

  1. Larry – Your Servant for a Day:  Larry will provide you will 8 hours of service of your choice including the following options: He can cater a tasty meal for your small group if you provide the ingredients (West Coast Seafood and fondue are his specialties) and he is an accomplished dishwasher; he can organize your office; put together a spreadsheet for you; and while he’s not fond of gardening, he’s good with a shovel, a rake and a hammer and can take direction. 
  2. Larry’s West Coast Trail Training Package: “How to make hiking the West Coast Trail something you endure less and enjoy more?” As a 22-time West Coast Trail hiker, Larry will take you on up to 3 personal training hikes on beautiful Vancouver Island and give you a customized packing and equipment pre-hike consultation as well as help to outfit you for the trek. Larry has been heard to mutter: “You have to be a little nuts to do the trail once, and really nuts to keep doing it”.

Some Background – or How Did Larry Get Involved with the Nature Centre? Larry’s long-time partner in life and adventure is Jane, one of the Centre’s founders and its current board chair. A decade ago, in the midst of meetings to develop Cowichan Bay’s new official community plan it became clear that lots of people living locally didn’t know much about the Cowichan estuary, this complex and magical intertidal ecosystem on our doorstep, and its role in the health of the whole Cowichan Watershed. In February 2011 Jane came home from the Fishermen’s Wharf excited about an economic development funding opportunity that looked like a fit for building a Nature Interpretive Centre on the Cowichan Estuary – a place that would offer a window into learning about the estuary and ultimately falling in love with and caring for this place. Larry was game (or was that cajoled?) to do the many hours of number-crunching needed on grant applications and to support Jane in launching a local fundraising campaign. The Cowichan Community Land Trust agreed to be the sponsoring charitable non-profit; and the rest, as they say, is history.  Now the Centre is almost eight years old, has recently become its own separate charitable non-profit, and Larry is keen to help it continue to be able to engage youth in learning, leadership and restoration, and to do this work long into the future.

Despite being a long-time financial officer for Canada’s Agency for Cooperative Housing, Larry has often described himself as being Jane’s “lovely assistant”, or perhaps “beleaguered assistant”, in implementing her dreams and schemes. Truth be told, Larry is as passionate, in his way, as Jane is about what the Nature Centre does in the world – engaging people, both local and from afar, and especially young people, in having direct hands-on experiences in the estuary, giving them the opportunity to: 

  • fall in love with this amazing estuarine environment and the wider natural world; and 
  • be inspired to care for and restore it.  

A core part of Larry’s life is spending as much time as he can in the wild. When he’s not working on spreadsheets, he can often be found hiking the West Coast Trail – a 7-day backpacking trip he’s done 22 times, usually twice a year including an annual hike with grade 11 and 12 students from Frances Kelsey High – or hiking other trails or mountain paths here on the West Coast. This may better explain the value of the $500 “West Coast Trail Training Package” prize described above. And if you enjoy the training hikes and want to do more, Larry leads an annual September West Coast Trail trek.

What Your Support Means – The Big Picture:  Larry says he sees this work as a local way to be a meaningful part of addressing eco-system destruction, species extinction and climate destabilization, while staying grounded in and connected to a special local place. 

Then there’s the Birthday Party – December 20th  – please RSVP 

6:00-10:00pm – Heritage Room, 

The Hub in Cowichan Station 

2375 Koksilah Rd, Duncan, BC Directions

Pot Luck Dinner around 6:30

  • Bring something yummy to eat and share; 
  • Bring a dish, glass, cup, utensils.  No disposables please – going for zero waste, maximum reuse, recycle, compost; and.
  • Bring you cheque book to make a donation!

Marimba Band around 8:00

Marimba is lively, feel great music with its roots in Zimbabwe. “Machikichori” will be our wonderful local marimba band for the evening. Dancing encouraged!  

More Dares and Prize Opportunities May Emerge…

RSVP to or


Celebrating Water – Beer And Burger Fundraiser at Cow Bay Pub

Celebrating WATER- Rejoice together in the gift of Water and support The Work of The Cowichan Nature Centre, with an evening of songs, stories, and memories about Water- plus beer and burgers!

We’re gearing up for a busy fall season of nature education and restoration and need YOUR help.

Join us for a Beer & Burger fundraiser at the Cow Bay Pub featuring great food, a silent auction, fantastic live music from Paul Ruszel AND storytelling from local naturalists and nature lovers all in Celebration of WATER

Do you have a local Water story to share? It can be personal, epic or amusing, poem, song or story – email before September 20th and be included in the storytelling circle.

Don’t miss our silent auction featuring local art, gift certificates from local businesses, and more.

Tickets includes a burger (chicken, beef, or veggie), side of fries or salad, and a drink (domestic beer, wine, or cider).

$25 per ticket, available online, or at Volume One Books, the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre (1845 Cowichan Bay Road).

An evening of stories, music, a silent auction, and delicious food – all for a good cause! Hope to see you there!

All proceeds will support local nature education and restoration at the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre.

Water Conservation in the Koksilah Watershed – Responding to Climate Disruption

Salvaging salmon fry in the Koksilah River. (photo Genevieve Singleton)

On July 17th, the Nature Centre is partnering with the Cowichan Watershed Board to host an evening on Water Conservation in the increasingly drought challenged Koksilah Watershed. Join us for a solutions-focused community conversation from 6 pm to 9 pm at the Hub in Cowichan Station.

Sierra Robinson, Permaculture Teacher

Speakers Tom Rutherford, fish biologist and Watershed Board Executive Director, and David Slade, Watershed Board member and former President of the BC Groundwater Association, will be joined by 17-year old Sierra Robinson, permaculture teacher, farmer, film-maker and crew-lead for the Cowichan Valley Earth Guardians. Together they will talk about the severe drought conditions in the watershed, the ongoing challenge of climate change and real, on-the-ground water conservation solutions.

“Water conservation is everybody’s responsibility,” says Rutherford, “While it’s easy to point fingers at the big agricultural users, we all have to step up.  We can all be better water stewards.”

A world-café style community conversation will follow the presentations to give residents a chance to share what water conservation efforts are working, what is worth trying and what kind of support is needed to better address the growing water challenges in the Koksilah.

During the evening local gardeners and hobby farmers in the Koksilah Watershed will also have a chance to apply to win one of six free permaculture water conservation garden audits on their property. These will be conducted by local permaculturists Jason Greenwood and Sierra Robinson in August. Those householders participating in garden audits will receive a report with specific water conservation recommendations for their property.

Permaculture is an ecological approach to gardening and food production and one of its most exciting aspects is its approach to water. Permaculture designers use landscape design to conserve and store water while building topsoil. Some permaculture projects have been so successful that they even recharge groundwater supplies.

One of the gardens selected for an audit will also be chosen for a Permaculture Blitz implementing water conservation solutions. This includes both design support from our permaculture experts and a day of hands-on help from a team of young volunteers to work on a water conservation garden transformation this fall.  The team will bring tools and willing hands. The property owner will cover the hard costs, such as the purchase of trees or shrubs.


Click HERE to enter to Win A Permaculture Water Conservation Audit


July 25/26th LakeKeepers Workshop – Buy your tickets soon!

The wonderful Cowichan Land Trust is hosting a LakeKeepers Workshop
Together with the British Columbia Lake Stewardship Society (BCLSS) and the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society, The Cowichan Land Trust is running a two-day LakeKeepers workshop for citizens to learn how to care for, monitor, and manage our beautiful BC lakes.
Facilitated by Dr. Rick Nordin of BCLSS, this workshop will take place on July 25th from 9-4pm and July 26th from 9-noon at the Duncan Community Lodge on Quamichan Lake.
Check out the poster below for more info on the lessons and information covered in the course!
It is available to everyone 14+, and is free for students and $25 for adults.

July 17th 6-9pm: Water Conservation in the Koksilah Watershed, a Community Conversation @ the HUB – free


SAVE THE DATE: July 17th 6-9pm

Join us for an evening on Water Conservation in the Koksilah Watershed –
 Responding to our Changing Climate: A Community Conversation at the HUB in Cowichan Station

With speakers David Slade & Tom Rutherford from the Cowichan Watershed Board, and 16 year-old Sierra Robinson, permaculture teacher

AND a chance for Gardeners  and Hobby Farmers in the Koksilah Watershed to apply to have a permaculture water conservation garden audit on their property and win a one-day permaculture water conservation garden Perma-Blitz transformation.  

July 2nd – Natural Leaders – Youth Leadership Training

2019 Youth Leadership and Team Building Training

On Tuesday, July 2nd, we will be hosting our annual Youth Leadership and Team Building Training for youth ages 14-18. Training will take place at the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre from 9-4pm. Lunch is included. The cost is $25-$45 (sliding scale).

This day-long interactive workshop for budding change-makers will provide lots of opportunities to learn and practice leadership and team building skills. Our focus this year is “engagement for healthy watersheds and climate action.” The day will include First Nations perspectives and stories from elders. There will be opportunities to explore and practice group leadership and team-building skills in a natural setting. Our facilitation team includes Laura Cuthbert from Organize BC and Kim Lagimodiere, Cowichan Watershed Board educator and Cowichan Tribes biologist.  It’s going to be an amazing interactive day.

There will also be pre and post-workshop opportunities to put leadership and team building skills into action on water conservation and watershed restoration projects in the Cowichan and Koksilah Watershed.

How to Register

If you would like to pay $45 on the sliding scale, you can pay online through Eventbrite (to choose another amount on the sliding scale or ask for a bursary, see below):

  • Please indicate your preferred payment method on the application form below and email the completed form to Karlie at, drop it off in person at the Nature Centre, or mail it to:                     Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre, Box 5

    Cowichan Bay, British Columbia, Canada V0R 1N0

  • You can pay online here through the Eventbrite page  or pay in person at the Nature Centre by debit or cash, or by cheque made payable to Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre.
  • Eventbrite doesn’t offer a sliding scale option, so to pay less that $45 on the sliding scale you’ll need to mail your application or come into the Centre to register (or ask us about an e-transfer).

If you would like to apply for a bursary it’s easy:

  • Please check “yes” when you fill out the application form below to apply for a bursary. Tell us in a sentence or two why a bursary would be helpful to you.  We want this workshop to be accessible, so please ask, and get your application to us as described above!!

Application Form: Youth Leadership Training Application

We are hiring! Summer Camp Leader – extended deadline June 5th

Spend a summer immersed in nature on the shorelines of the inspiring Cowichan Estuary located in Cowichan Bay, BC.

Science and Nature Summer Camp Leader – extended deadline – June 5th, 2019

Summer break is special, and the next best thing to being a summer camp attendee is being a summer camp leader. Envision your days immersed in nature, play and discovery. Gather your love and knowledge of the sea and science and build on your skills of sharing, facilitating and children development. We have two 10 week positions ready for 2 youth (age 15-30) keen to take their appreciation for the natural world and awareness of how to lead and support others to the next level.

Detailed job description and application process

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