July-Aug Summer Camp Registrations Open

Calling all nature explorers Ages 5-9! Our popular five-day July & August Summer Day Camps are open for registration. Campers will learn about the birds, plants and animals of the Cowichan Estuary by exploring the estuary’s  clam beds, mudflates, beaches & eelgrass meadows.We’ll explore tide pools, do hands-on experiments and crafts, play games and learn about our watersheds and estuary and their important role as an ecosystem and salmon habitat. Campers will get to know our Coho Salmon Fry in our fresh water aquarium and the many other creatures in our salt water aquarium. We’re small-group-oriented & our camps of up to 12 children offer a safe, fun, hands-on learning for 5 to 9 year-olds. 

Camps are Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm. Fee: $275 per child. Money a concern? Ask us about bursaries.

Contact camps@cowichanestuary.ca for more information.

 

2024 Summer Nature & Science Camp leader positions – apply now!

We are hiring 1 Summer Camp Coordinator and 1 Camp Leader for our upcoming 2024 Nature and Science Summer Day Camps! 

Our summer nature and science camps creatively engage participants from 5 to 9 years-old in fun hands-on learning, including arts, crafts, games, mud-digs, beach seines and other science-based activities related to nature, our local estuary, watersheds and ecosystems, conservation and restoration, and citizen science. Games and activities are mostly outdoors, including on the beach, along our estuary interpretive trail and up on our wildlife viewing tower. Indoors we have aquariums and an observation tank with marine and intertidal creatures, microscopes, telescopes. and interactive displays. We have camp curriculum materials and resources, and there’s also lots of room for our summer camp leader team to get creative. Respect for local Indigenous care for the land and wisdom is also foundational.

Science & Nature-Summer Camp Coordinator

Hours: 35 hours/week

Work Term: June 24th 2024, to August 28th 2024.

Compensation: $20/hr.

The Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre is an educational interpretive Centre in the Cowichan Estuary, a 400-hectare estuarine ecosystem. We offer hands-on nature- based programming for schools, youth and the public, plus summer science camps.

Job Description:

The role of the Summer Camp Coordinator is a hands-on, energy intensive position focused on co-leading science and nature-based camp activities and play. The Summer Camp Coordinator will be responsible for preparing camp programs, schedules, activities and learning outcomes. They will be mentored and trained by Nature Centre staff, volunteers and local naturalists in understanding the estuarine environment in which they will be working. The Summer Camp Coordinator may assist in the delivery of programs to school groups visiting the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre. The Summer Camp Coordinator and Leader will be the team delivering the summer science and nature camps for groups up to 12 children. Children attending the camps range in age from 5-9.

Duties

  • Develop and plan age- appropriate science and nature-based curriculum.
  • Supervise and facilitate summer science camps to groups of children and youth each week, including preparation and clean up.
  • Take responsibility for the welfare and learning of students, including reviewing campers’ medical forms and releases prior to each week’s camp, setting behavior limits and ensuring safe and appropriate camper behavior as needed.
  • Deliver community education and awareness programs, such as nature walks and school programs.
  • Help prepare publicity and promotional materials for camps.
  • Organize and maintain camp supplies.
  • Train, mentor, and coordinate youth volunteers for the Nature Centre.
  • Perform other general office duties including answer phone, email and in-office inquiries.
  • Be available for some weekends and evenings as required.

Qualifications:

  • Accountable, enthusiastic, adaptable, and self-starting.
  • Passion for working with children and youth.
  • A love of the outdoors, play and hands on activities.
  • Experience working with children and youth, managing behaviors and creating safe spaces to foster learning.
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team within a non-profit organization.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills; comfortable interacting with the public.
  • Willing to ask for help and accept feedback.
  • Computer skills in a Microsoft Office suite, social media and website maintenance an asset.
  • Preferably studying or demonstrated interest in one of the following fields: Education, Child and Youth Care or associated degrees; Biology, Earth and Ocean Sciences, Environmental sciences or associated degrees.

Science & Nature-Summer Camp Leader

Hours: 35 hours/week

Work Term: June 24th 2024, to August 28th 2024.

Compensation: $18.00/hr.

The Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre is an educational interpretive Centre in the Cowichan Estuary, a 400-hectare estuarine ecosystem. We offer hands-on nature- based programming for schools, youth, and the public, plus summer science camps.

Job Description:

The role of the Summer Camp Leader is a hands-on, energy intensive position focused on co-leading science and nature-based camp activities and play. The Summer Camp Leader will assist the Summer Camp Coordinator in final preparations for the summer science & nature camp programs including program activities, learning outcomes, and schedules. They will be mentored and trained by Nature Centre staff, volunteers, and local naturalists in understanding the estuarine environment in which they will be working.

Lead by the Camp Coordinator, the Camp Leader will be delivering the summer science and nature camps for groups up to 12 children. Children attending the camps range in age from 5-9.

Duties

  • Assist the summer camp coordinator in developing and planning curriculum, including inquiry science-based activities, arts, games, and crafts.
  • Co-lead summer science camps to groups of children and youth each week, including preparation and clean up.
  • Take responsibility for the welfare and learning of students, including reviewing campers’ medical forms and releases prior to each week’s camp, setting behavior limits, and ensuring safe and appropriate camper behavior as needed.
  • Organize and maintain camp supplies.

Qualifications:

  • Accountable, enthusiastic, adaptable, and self-starting.
  • Passion for working with children and youth.
  • A love of the outdoors, play and hands on activities.
  • Experience working with children and youth, managing behaviors, and creating safe spaces to foster learning.
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team within a non-profit organization.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills; comfortable interacting with the public.
  • Willing to ask for help and accept feedback.
  • Computer skills in a Microsoft Office suite, social media, and website maintenance an asset.
  • Preferably studying or demonstrated interest in one of the following fields: Education, Child and Youth Care or associated degrees; Biology, Earth and Ocean Sciences, Environmental sciences, or associated degrees.

 

How to Apply:  Please submit a cover letter and resume by May 1st via email, mail or in person to:

Alison Adamson

Coordinator
Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre

Box 5 Cowichan Bay Rd
Cowichan Bay, BC V0R 1N0

Email: admin@cowichanestuary.ca

IMPORTANT NOTE: Positions are contingent on Canada Summer Jobs funding.  This may affect employment contracts. 

We look forward to hearing from you and the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre thanks all applicants for your interest.

Only those selected for an interview will be contacted.  Job interviews may be conducted online via Zoom.

2022 Volunteers of the Year!

Meet our 2022 Volunteers of the Year!  We are grateful to all of our volunteer nature interpreters who welcome visitors to the Nature Centre, and we especially want to recognize this amazing team of five – Dorothy Marshall, Kathy Coster, Gail Mitchell, Judy Wilson (all pictured here), and Jane Douglas – who all came, and continue to come, to share their knowledge and welcoming smiles with Nature Centre visitors week after week, sunshine, rain or snow, throughout 2022. and now into the new year. We couldn’t have done it without them!

Interested in Volunteering at the Centre?
If you care about our watersheds and our estuary and want to contribute, we’d love to welcome you to our volunteer team.  You don’t need to be an expert.  We’ll give you an orientation, access to resources, and pair you up with an experienced volunteer for at least two shifts at the Centre (more if you like) to meet and get to know the creatures in the aquarium and observation tank and learn the ropes. We’d love to expand our team right now so we can also expand our weekend open hours and allow more people to learn about this magical and sensitive estuarine ecosystem starting in mid-March.  Volunteers are also invited to participate in fun restoration events accessible to a range of ability levels.  Contact our Administrative Coordinator alison@cowichanestuary.ca or our wonderful volunteer VolunteerCoordinator Gail Mitchell at gail.mitch44@gmail.com

And don’t forget to come by for a visit!

Interested in Volunteering with Us or Joining our Board?

Want to Make a Difference in our Community? Consider Joining Our Board!
The Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre Society is looking to expand its Board of Directors, as well as grow its marine and watershed education and restoration programs, community outreach, volunteer base, and staff supports.  Now is the time to join us and be part of moving forward as an organization!
We are particularly looking for people who have skills in fundraising, marketing and outreach, financial management (a potential treasurer-type good with budgets and reading financial statements), policy development, and/or technology and social media, as well as a passion for learning about and protecting the natural world.  Can you or someone you know contribute 8 hours a month to help us fulfill our mission and vision?  We have a great board team and we’ll be having a Board training and development session soon.
Please contact Board Co-Chairs Jim Wisnia wisnia@telus.net and/ or Tracey Brown traceybrown@yahoo.com if you are interested. Tell them something about yourself and why you’d like to get involved – send us your CV if you have one – and ask Jim and Tracey any questions you have.  Your can also suggest someone else you think might be interested and would be a good fit for our organization.

Interested in Volunteering at the Centre?
If you care about our watersheds and our estuary and want to contribute, we’d love to welcome you to our volunteer team.  You don’t need to be an expert.  We’ll give you an orientation, access to resources, and pair you up with an experienced volunteer for at least two shifts (more if you like) at the Centre to learn the ropes. We’d love to expand our team right now so we can also expand our weekend open hours and allow more people to learn about this magical and sensitive estuarine ecosystem.  Volunteers are also invited to participate in fun restoration events accessible to a range of ability levels.  Contact our administrative coordinator alison@cowichanestuary.ca or our wonderful volunteer volunteer-coordinator Gail Mitchell at gail.mitch44@gmail.com

Louisa Varco, CENC Aquarist and Educator connects with Volunteers

This past summer Lousia Varco joined us as our Aquarist and as a part of our Educator Team.  Throughout the fall Louisa could most often be found in the evenings quietly fine-tuning the salinity in our intertidal aquarium and observation tank and checking on the well-being of the intertidal creatures

Louisa (centre) orienting volunteers

Louisa is now in the final weeks of completing her Fisheries and Aquaculture Technology Diploma at VIU. She also has experience working as a Independent Contractor with DFO on the European Green Crab Trials, has worked with marine mammals, and spent last summer working at the Deep Bay Marine Field Station.

This past Friday afternoon February 18th a number of our volunteers, staff, and board members, enjoyed an informative aquarium orientation and update with Louisa, with lots of time to ask questions and get to know one another.

Louisa is now looking forward to working with volunteers to setting up our seasonal freshwater salmon fry tank in anticpation of raising coho salmon fry and sharing that experience with visitors (part of the DFO’s Salmonids in the Classroom program).

Our intertidal observation tank and aquariums are a big draw for school classes and visitors and we are thrilled to have Louisa as part of our team.

We are currently looking for contract marine educators to deliver school programming this coming fall and spring. Aquarium maintenance candidates with experience in delivering marine education programming may be interested in also applying to be a contract educator at the Nature Centre, as part of a combined contract.

We are accepting applications now. Please apply  to admin@cowichanestuary.ca with resume and references.  Start date: as soon as possible.

 

“Luschiim’s Plants” Indigenous Plant Talk & Book Signing Oct 3rd, 3pm

Join us October 3rd at 3pm outside on the lawn under the tent at the Nature Centre for an Indigenous Plant Talk & Book signing, with authors Quw’utsun Elder Luschiim Arvid Charlie and local ethnobotanist Nancy Turner, and a chance to purchase a signed copy of their gorgeous new book “Luschiim’s Plants”.

More info and a place to sign up and reserve a spot at https://www.facebook.com/events/1297594733992642

 

Eelgrass Restoration May 24th – 28th

JOIN US TO HELP TRANSPLANT AND RESTORE EELGRASS IN OUR INTERTIDAL ZONE

 

 

 

 

We’re looking for volunteers! It’s easy to learn to tie the rhizomes for transplanting and create more habitat for salmon fry to grow up in along with other intertidal creatures.  This event is fun, and happens outdoors with appropriate Covid distancing.
Seachange Marine Conservation Society in partnership with Cowichan Tribes and the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre will be hosting this eelgrass transplant event to create and restore eelgrass meadows in the Cowichan Estuary. 
Join us in Hecate Park, Cowichan Bay
May 24th-28th 2022
For more information and to sign up to volunteer: call Nikki at 250-652-1662 or Email Nikki@seachangelife.org

 

Jane’s Birthday Youth Watershed Restoration Program Fundraiser – Aug 29th

Party with a Purpose – Celebrate with me & Support our Youth Watershed Restoration Program – Goal  $5000  DONATE

by Jane Kilthei, CENC Board Chair and Nature Centre Volunteer

One Saturday in the late summer of 1951 my parents celebrated their wedding anniversary for the last time (although they remained faithfully together). I showed up that day and have been causing trouble ever since – hopefully mostly “good trouble” of one sort or another.

This summer, I’m turning 70! On Sunday, August 29th from 1 -4 pm, I’m celebrating my birthday in Hecate Park down on the water by the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre and you are invited.   “Masimba Marimba” will play for us – bring your dancing shoes! There will be cold drinks, tea, coffee and cake, AND I’m asking for your support for the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre’s Youth Watershed Restoration Program, so bring your cheque book!

If you can’t make it to the party, you can still donate to support the program via Canada Helps here.  Put “youth restoration program” in the message box. The Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre is a charity, so you’ll get a tax receipt.

It seems I host a “party with a purpose” once every decade ever since I turned 50. In 2011, at 60, it was a party (with MASIMBA, the same wonderful Marimba band) to raise funds for our dream – creating the Estuary Nature Centre. And together we did it!

Since opening our doors in 2012, a big part of the Estuary Nature Centre’s work has been engaging youth in watershed education and restoration projects. Starting in the spring of 2019, with a 26-month Eco-Action grant from Environment and Climate Change Canada and a dedicated restoration staff lead, we were able to scale up that work – engaging more young people in conservation and restoration work over the past two+ years, including throughout the pandemic with Covid protocols in place.

In these times when climate impacts are increasingly affecting ground water, water flows in our rivers and the salmon and the other wildlife who rely on it, this has been important and satisfying work. As our grant funding comes to an end, we’re determined to continue making this ecosystem work a significant priority, as an ongoing youth restoration program with a deepening education component.

To do that, our Goal is to raise $5000 by September 6th. Of course, we’re also writing more grant applications – and most of those we won’t hear about until April or May. Raising $5,000 now means our restoration coordinator can keep the program’s momentum building, without a staffing gap. It also means we can continue offering young people hands-on educational restoration opportunities throughout the fall and into 2022.

This is a program close to my heart. I’ve been privileged to support and mentor young people who are deeply worried about the climate crisis and engaged in organizing Fridays-4-the-Future climate actions. I watch them finding hope and inspiration as they plant native species to restore riparian areas that shade the water for young salmon – making a hands-on difference right now, while they’re also pushing hard on governments at all levels to do what is needed to address the climate emergency.  They inspire me. We also see whole classes of students from local schools find a deeper place of caring for the Earth when they get their hands in the soil to care for her.

So, instead of birthday cards or gifts (what 70-year-old needs more stuff anyway?) I’m asking friends, family, Nature Centre supporters and party goers alike to donate to the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre’s Youth Watershed Restoration Program.

Why this work matters – protecting an important ecosystem & our climate

When I moved to the Cowichan Valley 24 years ago, I feel in love with this beautiful and rich inter-tidal ecosystem.  Living in Cowichan Bay we can watch the estuary daily as it changes with the tides and the seasons.  Trumpeter Swans over-winter here.  There is a Pacific Great Blue Heronry in the ravine across from the Nature Centre that now has more than 100 nests and 200+ herons call it home.  We watch them flying back and forth in the spring bringing sticks to build their nests, hear them squawking at circling eagles to protect their nestlings, and watch them, still as statues, fishing on the tidal flats.  There’s a Heron cam on our website where you can watch them nesting and raising their babies between mid-February and mid-July from any place in the world. Most of all the Nature Centre provides a place where people of all ages can get engaged, learn about and fall in love with the estuary, which means they then care for and act to protect this special place and the two watersheds, the Cowichan and Koksilah, that meet here.

Climate Change & the Big Picture

The science about our rising greenhouse gas emissions and the dangers of our changing climate have been known for at least half a century. By the 1980’s I knew a lot of really smart people who were working on the problem. That was when Larry and I were training to be midwives and working to bring midwifery into Canada’s public health care system to protect women’s access to safe, compassionate maternity care, plus raising two kids.

Somewhere around 2004, I realized that the climate crisis was basically getting more and more out of control – emissions rising and climate destabilization happening far faster than science had predicted, international treaty processes stalled, political leaders with their heads in the sand and the fossil fuel industry carrying on like there was no tomorrow – which is unfortunately still pretty much the case. I dove in and read 50 plus books on climate science and countless journal articles, and saw how the climate crisis affected pretty much everything else the supported life on Earth.

I feel very connected to this next generation, not only because of my own two kids, but also from 32 years of working in midwifery, with mothers birthing 100s of babies into my hands. I wake up at night worrying about their future on this planet with its rapidly rising temperatures, more and more destructive storms and wildfires, increasing health risks and displacing vulnerable people.  So, what to do?  And what has the climate crisis got to do with our very local initiative to protect the Cowichan Estuary?

The foundation of the estuary ecosystem is eelgrass, which provides a vital nursery for juvenile salmon and other marine life.  Eelgrass meadows are also incredibly efficient at sequestering carbon.  A Sierra Club of BC report highlighted the urgency of protecting seagrass meadows, at risk of disappearing just as our ancient forests are.  In BC estuarine seagrass habitats, with the top-ranking ones for carbon storage located on the coast of Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, store enough carbon to balance the emissions of 200,000 passenger cars per year.  Marine zoologist and paleo-climatologist Dr. Colin Campbell, says eelgrass meadows are “probably the most efficient carbon removal mechanism on Earth”.   Every year we are privileged to host and support Nikki Wright and the Sea Change Marine Conservation Society doing eelgrass restoration in the Cowichan Estuary and Genoa Bay to enhance habitat for the salmon, birds and marine mammals who call this intertidal ecosystem home – and also for our children, who need a planet with a stable climate to call home.

Despite our local efforts and those of many others taken over the past decade there is still much to do.  Fossil fuel-burning and our country’s emissions continue to accelerate. We do have the technology to move away from fossil fuels. Indigenous wisdom and western science can together guide us in protecting the ecosystems that support life here on Earth.  I believe we know the social, economic and infrastructure changes and the collaborative processes needed to navigate this existential crisis. We are in a climate emergency.  Our young people are raising their voices, yet governments at all levels around the world are not yet doing enough of what is needed at the emergency pace needed. There are many ways to get involved. We all have a role to play.  Supporting young people in doing conservation and restoration work in our climate-challenged watersheds is one way you can make a difference. Every action matters.

Come to the Party!  – Bring your partner, spouse and kids, and help me celebrate another decade of life on this wonderful blue planet – and bring your cheque book to help keep it that way!  Or donate here.

Date:               Sunday, August 29th, 2021

Time:               1 pm to 4pm

Treats:             Cold Drinks, Tea Coffee and Cake

Fun:                 Danceable Marimba with MASIMBA starting around 1pm

Place:              Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre,

RSVP to jane@cowichanestuary.ca, especially if you’d like a map

For out-of-towners wishing a longer stay in the Cowichan Valley, the Wessex Inn is across the road from the Centre near the Heronry, the Ocean Front Suites are just down the road and there are many bed and breakfast options available nearby – booking in advance a good idea.

Drip Irrigation Workshop in the Koksilah Watershed – July 24th, 9am – 1pm

Hands-on DRIP IRRIGATION WORKSHOP – Back by popular demand!
We are going to build a drip irrigation system from the ground up in the Koksilah Watershed!
Saturday, July 24th, – 9 am -1pm
Ages: Adults and Youth 15 and up. The workshop is limited to 15 people so we can effectively social distance for the full workshop.
Register for your spot soon!
This 1-day workshop will support you to learn or refine skills in building a drip irrigation system. Permaculture expert, Jason Greenwood from Greenwood Earthcare, will lead us in building a drip irrigation water system together to learn the skills to each build our own in our own backyards. Drip irrigation saves you money, time and most of all water, which is a scarce resource here in our Valley in the summer months when gardening!  Water-saving gardening also means gardening without guilt, because you can be confident you are protecting our aquifers and salmon bearing streams. Jason is a Permaculture Designer, Earth Care Provider & teacher with lots of experience with drip irrigation systems and he’s passionate about re-connecting people with the power of nature and plant allies.
Cost: free – you donations are gratefully accepted. Our goal is to help you be a watershed warrior and conserve water without barriers!
Closer to the event you will be sent the details of the workshop location in the Koksilah Watershed near Bright Angel Park. The workshop is outside, so bring your hat, sunscreen and/or rain gear and dress for the weather.
TICKETS: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/drip-irrigation-workshop-grow-your-own-food-save-water-money-tickets-161245273955