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 <>  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.

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!

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

Guy Johnston and the Michelle Rose Community Supported Fishery

Guy Johnston is the head of a fishing family, skipper of the Michelle Rose, and creator of the Michelle Rose Community Supported Fishery.  Guy has been a supporter of the Nature Centre from the beginning of construction to the present.  Learn about their innovative community supported fishery on their website at

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