100 Men Who Care Donation!

A Big Win for Environmental Education!

100 Men Who Care Cowichan Valley have donated $11, 261 to the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre!

100 Men Who Care Cowichan Valley are an organization of men who meet quarterly to socialize, learn about local needs, and provide pooled funding to selected charities.

As proud recipients of their donation of $11, 261 the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre has many plans to put to good use these generously donated funds.

The Nature Centre’s mission is to engage the public – especially children and youths – in understanding natural systems and to foster stewardship.  We have a saltwater touch tank, watershed model, microscopes birdwatching telescope, and more.  Over 5000 visitors a year walk through the doors. Funds made available to 100 Men Who Care will be used to look after our vibrant Nature Centre, improve information displays and create new and exciting interactive displays and media.

In the spring and fall of 2019 over 1000 students came with their classes to the Centre for science-oriented programs and about 100 children came to summer day camps.  The Centre aims to double its hands-on watershed restoration work this coming spring, summer, and fall.  Transportation funding will enable more of these experiences, especially for students from low-income neighbourhoods. Funds to provide partial or full scholarship for students or youth in need will be used to expand our environmental outreach to those groups of society who are otherwise unable to take part in our programming due to the simple barrier of cost.

A massive thank you to 100 Men Who Care! You have each made a difference for children and nature in the Cowichan Valley!

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!



The Great Blue Heron Hair-off Fundraiser

You may remember local teacher and environmentalist Jim Wisnia’s 2012 “Pony Up for the Point” campaign when he raised $7500 to help Sansum Point become a protected Regional Park. He had his ponytail cut off on Earth Day at the grand opening of the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre. Well, Jim has been growing his hair since them and he is ready to have a radical hair-cut on behalf of the Estuary Nature Centre and wildlife habitat, with a special focus on our Pacific Great Blue Herons, the fannini subspecies that nest in the ravine near the Centre. Hear the story straight from Jim:

“I’m now conducting a two-month fundraising campaign for the Nature Centre in support of things I value highly: nature education, wildlife monitoring, habitat restoration, community-building, and programs for the advancement of youth.  

The Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre is located on the shore of Cowichan Bay, a designated Important Bird Area where the Cowichan and Koksilah Rivers flow into the ocean.  It is a place where nature lovers meet and share stories.  Nature Centre staff and volunteers offer children marine and watershed science programs on class visits and day camps.  Drop-in visitors can learn from the saltwater touch tank, the juvenile salmon aquarium, the interactive watershed model, the videos of elders’ stories, the bird viewing tower, and the trail-side signs.  Immediately uphill from the Nature Centre is the largest Great Blue Heron nesting colony on Vancouver Island, nourished by the abundant life in the estuary. 

For a few years I’ve been letting my hair grow long.  I’m offering it up on Earth Day (April 22, the Nature Centre’s seventh anniversary) in the “Great Blue Heron Hair-off,” and I’m asking for your tax-deductible contribution to my campaign.  My goal is to raise $9000.  Depending on how much my campaign raises, it will help:

1-  Purchase a live-feed video camera for monitoring the heron nesting colony ($1500)

2-  Support a Restoration Biologist and a Youth Educator in mentoring and teaching a youth group in waterside habitat restoration in ($900)

3-  Bring 15 high-school-age youth to the 2019 Youth Leadership Training: Engagement for Healthy Watersheds ($1500)

4-  Support a day-long Whole Watershed Thinking workshop for youth ($1500)

5-  Bring five children from low-income families to a nature immersion summer science camp ($1100)

6-  Bring five classes from low-income neighbourhoods to the Centre’s nature immersion programming ($1000)

7-  Hire an educator to develop French language nature immersion programming ($1500)

Besides helping us learn more about our Great Blue Heron colony, donated funds will also provide youth scholarships, giving the next generation of leaders the big-picture context and the confidence to undertake hands-on restoration activities and to use their stories to connect with others around shared values, thus strengthening this conservation-minded community.

Donations can be made online at Canada Helps <https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/cowichan-community-land-trust-society/campaign/great-blue-hair-off/>  or send a cheque (noting Great Blue Hair-off) to:  Cowichan Community Land Trust, #6 – 55 Station Street, Duncan, BC  V9L 1M3.

Barry Hetschko

If you’re interested in birds and wildlife in the Cowichan Valley, you’ve probably seen some of Barry Hetschko‘s fantastic photos. He is a talented photographer, dedicated conservationist, and all-around awesome guy.
And this month, Barry kindly donated some of his photos to use on our website! Have you spotted them? We think it really spruces things up. ? We are thrilled and so thankful for his contribution to the Nature Centre! Thank you Barry!!

Barry can be spotted birding around the Cowichan Valley.

Barry was born and raised in Vancouver British Columbia. He moved to the Cowichan Valley in 1986. Drawn by early memorable life experiences on his uncle’s dairy farm.

Barry purchased his first camera in early 2011 and photography became a passion, which in turn kindled a keen interest in birds and nature. He is an active member of the community, serving on the Board of the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society and working with the Cowichan Valley Naturalists Society.

True Grain Bread

We are pleased to recognize True Grain Bread’s recent donation of $200 to support marine education and outreach at the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre!

True Grain Bread is located in Cowichan Bay Village.

True Grain is truly a community landmark in Cowichan Bay. On any day of the week you can find residents sipping coffees and relaxing, local leaders and entrepreneurs holding meetings, and visitors taking in the beauty of the Bay while delighting in the loaves and pastries made from local BC grains. Stop by and see for yourself!

We are so grateful to operate in a community full of support for one another.

Many thanks True Grain Bread!

Western Stevedoring – Donor Recognition

We are pleased to recognize Western Stevedoring’s recent donation of $400 to support marine education and outreach at the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre!  This corporate donation will go toward a new freshwater aquarium at the Centre which will be home to our Coho fry as a part of our “Salmon in the Classroom Program” in 2018.

Nature Centre Volunteer Connie Harris takes her kayak through the newly breached causeway to help salmon move in the estuary.

Terminal Manager Rob James and his team at Western Stevedoring in Cowichan Bay are experienced hands-on contributors to environmental education and restoration in the Cowichan Estuary. They’ve worked in partnership with the Cowichan Estuary Restoration and Conservation Association, Cowichan Tribes, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and other local industries like Pacific Industrial Marine, to breach the causeway in the estuary and help young salmon more easily find their way to protection and nourishment in the estuary’s eelgrass meadows on their journey to the sea.

Removing derelict vessels from the estuary

This past June Western Stevedoring also joined Brian Thacker and his crew at Pacific Industrial Marine, plus a team from Western Forest Products, to remove derelict boats from the estuary that posed a risk to the environment. These three local companies shared the cost —estimated at between $40,000 and $50,000 — of removing six derelict boats from the Bay. A helicopter lifted two wrecks from the water, where it was too shallow to tow the vessels without damaging the estuary, and four boats were towed to the Western Stevedoring terminal dock and lifted out the water with a crane in preparation for dismantling.

Many thanks Western Stevedoring!

TimberWest – Donor Recognition

TimberWest recently donated $2,500 to support education and outreach at the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre!  $1,000 of this corporate donation will go toward creating educational workshop packages, displays and interpretive programs for children, youth and adults as a part of the Centre’s Adapting to Climate Change Project this year.

Domenico Iannidinardo, VP of Sustainability and Chief Forester for TimberWest, told us: “We’re happy to help the Land Trust and the Nature Centre instill a greater understanding of the importance of estuary wetlands and the ecological services they provide. It’s great to see this project taking place in the Cowichan Valley, reaching out to the community and helping community members and land owners learn about effective ways to mitigate and adapt to climate change and get hands-on experience participating in the Nature Centre’s volunteer action days.”

TimberWest has also been a long-time supporter of and partner with the Land Trust and Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre, most recently on our shoreline restoration work.

Many thanks TimberWest!

Peninsula Co op Sponsor of the Month for July-Aug

The Peninsula Co op recently donated $5000 to our school programs at the Nature Centre! That means over 350 students from the Valley will learn about their watershed and its marine residents through hands on activities based in Cowichan Bay.  We thank the Co op for their dedication to building a solid future for our kids by giving back to their community!

Sponsor of the Month COW BAY PUB

Sponsor of the Month COW BAY PUB

Sponsor of the Month: COW BAY PUB

Restaurants serving seafood understand the need for a healthy estuary. That’s why our local watering hole has donated $300 towards the renovation of our Coho Salmon exhibit in the Nature Centre.  Thank you to Chris Killam and staff for hosting our Beer and Burger fundraiser on June 18th (Father’s Day!). If you love the Pub, please write a comment below.  http://baypub.ca/

Thomas at PHARMASAVE Duncan

Pharmacists know about health care so Thomas at Pharmasave knows that the Cowichan Estuary also needs health care. Our first Nature Centre sponsor of the year, Thomas will help Cowichan Valley students to learn how to help nature help us. Thanks, Pharmasave!  http://pharmasave.com

If you too want to sponsor kids in nature, please call Centre Manager Todd Carnahan at 250 746 0227.

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