We are hiring Contract Educators!

We are looking for enthusiastic Contract Educators to join our school program education team!

The Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre is expanding its team of Nature Educators to lead our school programs for grades K-9 in the Cowichan Valley.

This position entails leading 1hr – 1.5hour nature programs for learners predominantly in Grades K-9. Our programs focus on hands-on experiential learning, include time outside in nature and covers topics such as: estuary wildlife, watershed health, climate change, environmental science, nature conservation, biology, etc., and may at times include social studies and history content. At low tide activities may include mud digs and beach sienes in the intertidal zone to explore resident sea life.

The programs are mostly based at the Nature Centre, indoors and outside, and also may include teaching and supporting students grades 5 and up in watershed restoration planting at sites in the Cowichan and Koksilah watershed. There are also opportunities leading programming during Spring Break camps, Summer Programs, and for older high school students and adults, including community workshops.

Hours for this contractor position can vary greatly and will depend on the interest and availability of the contractor. The busy season tends to be Sept-Oct and April-June and we are hoping to expand our programming to some in-school classroom modules we can offer between November and March.

Desirable skills

  • Education or equivalent experience in Environmental Studies/Science, Biology/Marine Biology, Natural Resource Management, Geography, Geology, Chemistry, Sustainability
  • At least 2 years of experience in education or nature interpretation
  • Confidence in leading and managing groups of students from kindergarten to grade 9
  • Comfortable improvising in a nature education role


  • Current Criminal record/Vulnerable sector check
  • Current First Aid
  • Reliable vehicle

For more information, see:


Please send your resume and covering letter to: coordinator@cowichanestuary.ca by March 15th, 2020.

Stay tuned! We will soon be hiring a Summer Camp coordinator and camp leaders for our upcoming summer season 2020

Spring Break Restoration Camp

At Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre, we think…

Spring Break is Special, just like our Watershed! 

A day in the life of a camper, is hard to beat.

And that is why we wanted to make sure your kids have another chance to get outdoors and soak up the beauty and joy that nature exploration has to offer.

This spring break we are lacing up our boots with two fun filled days lead by our amazing education team, and restoration expert, David Polster – that is right for all you plant lovers we have our first restoration expert camp instructor! Your kids will come home with a new perspective and the skills to re-wild!

Campers will explore native vegetation, river ecology, natural processes and practice their discovery skills, expression of gratitude and respect for self and others through creative restoration focused activities.

Registration is open now!

March 19 -20, Ages 11-16

For our full event Calendar, see our Coming Events page for details.

Details and Fees

Camp fees are $25 per youth attendee (please reach out if you are in need of a bursarie)

This camp runs from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, both Thursday March 19th and Friday March 20th.


Questions?  Contact info@cowichanestuary.ca. Or phone:  250-597-2288

Welcome new interim- coordinator, Amy!

We would like to warmly introduce and welcome our new interim – coordinator who will be helping to look after the Nature Centre in the coming months as Alicia Taylor commences her maternity leave.

A few words from Amy:

Hello to the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre community. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you all. I have recently joined the Nature Centre team as the interim coordinator. Thank you for the lovely welcome I have received so far! As someone who feels passionate about the Cowichan Valley and Estuary, I am eager to learn all I can about its history, people and environment.

I look forward to learning from all of our volunteers and educators and helping to coordinate all of the wonderful events, camps and educational programs we will offer during the upcoming year.  Thank you for your patience with me as I take in the vast array of outreach programming that we offer!






Please feel free to contact Amy at the Cowichan Estuary Nature Center at:



Massive Thanks To Larry and his community of friends! Over $5000 raised in one month


A deep appreciation to Larry and his community of friends who raised over $5000 to support the operations of the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre. General operations rarely hit the spotlight, but with the dedication of Larry to keep our centre going, and the support of his friends, we are grateful to be launching into 2020 with this extra support. May all of you who donated know you kindness and funds are well received! Happiest of the New Year to you!

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

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

We did it!  On December 20th, Larry Lenske, the Nature Centre’s treasurer and one of our most long-standing and dedicated volunteers, turned 70!  He decided to do a fundraising campaign for the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre to mark the occasion and, thanks to all of you amazing and generous donors, he has raised $5,500Thank-you so much for your support!

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 meeting his Fundraising Goal Means support for 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.  And there will be more of that in the new year.

And Yes, if you’d still like to donate, you can:

  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)

Dares and Prize Winners: To keep things interesting Larry accepted some swimmingly cold “dares”.

Since he met his $3,000 goal, Larry will bungee jump nude into the Nanaimo River in March (Bonus: this is also a fundraiser for the BC Schizophrenic Society.) 

And since he surpassed his $5,000 goal, on winter Solstice, December 21st at 3pm, after Larry assured us all, “Worry not, Guy Johnston will be there with his skiff to drag my sorry ass out of the water as needed”,Larry did indeed swim the 170 metres (500 feet) from the Kayak Launch at the Cowichan Marine Gateway to the beach at the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre.  Thanks to those who came out to cheer him on!  And those who donated to the campaign, will get a link to the video.Come be part of the Cheering (or Heckling) Section. Paramedics will definitely be welcome. 

And Two of our Supporters Won Prizes by Each making a donation of $500 or more :

One will have Larry as Her Servant for a Day:  Larry will provide you will 8 hours of service of her choice – which is put together a spreadsheet for her retirement plan. 

The other has chosen 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 her on up to 3 personal training hikes on beautiful Vancouver Island and provide a customized packing and equipment pre-hike consultation as well as help to outfit her for the trek. 

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. 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. 

Thanks to Everyone who came out to the Birthday Party at the Hub in Cowichan Station, shared an amazing potluck feast, and helped Larry take his fundraising goal over the top! 

A Special Big Thank-You to the marimba players from Machikichori for a magical musical evening of fun and dancing! 

Happy Solstice!



Water use restricted on Koksilah River to protect fish populations

“The Province is restricting water use by select users on the Koksilah River to protect fish populations, which are under threat due to low water flows in the river.

The Koksilah River is located south of Duncan on Vancouver Island and supports significant aquatic ecosystems and fish species, including steelhead, coho salmon and trout. These fish populations are important to local First Nations and provide economic benefits.

Ministry biologists have determined that current flow levels are so low that habitat conditions are severely degraded and fish populations may be threatened. The flow of water in the Koksilah River has dropped below 180 litres per second (less than 2% of mean annual discharge) and may be trending downward.

From now until Sept. 30, 2019, specified licences that authorize water use directly from the Koksilah River and its tributaries, and users of wells in aquifers that are hydraulically connected to the river, must cease all diversion and use of water for industrial purposes and for irrigation of forage crops, such as hay and corn.

Ministry staff will be conducting compliance checks in the Koksilah River watershed for the duration of the fish population protection order.

By restricting water use for irrigation of forage crops, such as hay and corn, but allowing water use for stock watering and irrigation of perennial crops and vegetables, water flows should be restored to a level sufficient to maintain fish populations while minimizing effects on users, such as the agricultural sector.

Steps toward developing a water sustainability plan for the Koksilah River watershed are being taken, which is anticipated to help with overall water management in the area. In the event water flows recover to above 180 litres per second on a sustained basis following any significant precipitation events, the Province may revoke the order.”


Source: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019FLNR0215-001616

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 alicia@cowichanestuary.ca 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.

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