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)

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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!



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