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A Young Leader for Nature: Caroline Merner
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A Young Leader for Nature: Caroline Merner

Having moved to the West Coast of Canada, Caroline Merner was immersed in nature from an early age, and has been so for the entirety of her life. Her childhood spent playing outside with her three sisters grew into a passion for hiking, cycling, and camping. Traveling from the West Coast to the East Coast for her post-secondary studies at Dalhousie University, Caroline completed her Bachelor of Arts with Combined Honours in Sustainability and International Development with a Minor in Spanish. Now, her everyday commute to work is one that might cause envy - a 45-minute bike ride with ocean views that bring her to Stanley Park, Vancouver, where she works at Ocean Wise.

A Young Woman for Nature

Since graduating, Caroline has been inspiring youth with her passion for nature through her work with Parks Canada, Students on Ice, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Ocean Wise, and with her non-profit, Climate Guides. Speaking to Caroline was nothing short of inspiring. The combination of her evident and honest love for nature, with her fast-growing list of accomplishments, topped with her passion for engaging with others made me look at my notes and think “Well, this is exactly what nature in Canada needs.” Caroline is a Young Woman for Nature and one of six recipients of the Young Nature Leadership Grant. For Caroline, being a Young Woman for Nature has meant empowering young women, helping them find their connection to nature and harnessing that to share it with others. [caption id="attachment_36356" align="aligncenter" width="832"] Caroline, speaking on a panel at the Vancouver School Board Sustainability Conference, photo by Roozbeh Peykari.[/caption] In October of 2017 Caroline was able to meet the other Young Women for Nature at the Women for Nature reception held on Parliament Hill on October 23, 2017. She mentioned how she left the event feeling inspired by the “cohort of change-makers, of people who want to protect our lands and who are taking amazing strides in the protection of our environment.” Of the experience, Caroline said that “Being a Young Woman for Nature comes with action for those who are connected to nature and want to conserve it. They are naturally sustainability-driven.” And naturally sustainability-driven are three words that begin to provide an appropriate description for how Caroline’s environmental endeavors have been shaping up over the past few years, and have led to her very own non-profit: Climate Guides.

Climate Guides

Climate Guides is a mentorship program connecting youth and professionals to address climate change by developing solutions together. Trying to paint a picture for how Climate Guides came to be pulls from various experiences: From a lifetime of hiking and camping, to the completion of a thesis on the psychology of climate change communication, to meeting her co-director Marina Melanidis on an Arctic expedition, to receiving seed funding through the Young Nature Leadership Grant and mentorship from another Woman for Nature - the road to Climate Guides was built on Caroline’s passion for nature and desire to create a community. Caroline stated that “When people start to get involved in this work, they encourage other people to become engaged, wanting to be a connector - that [is] where community happens.” And Climate Guides will be doing just that by giving ten young mentees the opportunity to launch their environmentally inspired projects.  Each mentee is matched to an appropriate mentor, launching projects that will potentially change Vancouver, BC, and Canada.  Climate Guides hopes to become a sustainable system of environmental growth and innovation that expands across Canada, and around the world.

Right Now, and Moving Forward

The launch of Climate Guides’ first mentorship cohort takes place on Saturday, April 7, 2018. The event is will gather 10 mentors and 10 mentees. We can anticipate many inspiring stories from the inaugural round of Climate Guides projects on social media. Later in September, Climate Guides will be attending the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. This conference will bring people together from around the world to showcase climate action and inspire deeper commitments. Climate Guides are planning on getting there the same way Caroline gets to work every day - by bike.

We are looking forward to hearing more about Caroline and Climate Guides. As a writer, this has been one of my favourite pieces to put together. This is not only because Caroline shared her fascinating adventure in sustainability, but also for the positivism with which she approaches climate change, and for the brightness of the future we will all share, because of people like her.


Caroline Merner is a Young Women for Nature who first became involved with Nature Canada after the 2017 Canadian Parks Conference in Banff National Park, Alberta. At this event, she heard Dawn Carr, Women of Nature and Project Leader Executive Director of the Canadian Parks Council, speak of the Young Nature Leadership Grant. Caroline would later became one of the six grant recipients in 2017. For more information about the Young Nature Leader Grant, please follow this link. For more information on Climate Guides, visit their website, and reach out to them through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

Nature Canada would like to thank the Women for Nature members for generously supporting this mentorship pilot.

Last Minute Gift Ideas for Nature Lovers
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Last Minute Gift Ideas for Nature Lovers

[caption id="attachment_22916" align="alignleft" width="150"]Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator Samantha Nurse, Web and Social Media Coordinator[/caption] Need gift ideas for yourself or the nature lover in your family? We have a few suggestions that are sure to fill you and your family with holiday cheer!

Snow shoes

We're in for a long winter. Turn it into a positive and explore nature by snow shoe!

Chutneys, Relishes, and Other Preserves

Great if they’re from your own garden, or purchased from a local grower. If you know someone with a real appreciation for good food, you can make them happy all year long with a membership in an organic cooperative that keeps them supplied with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Head Lamp

For night time hikes and cross-country skiing a headlamp can really come in handy! Try to find one that’s light-weight (2-5 ounces), waterproof and has an adjustable light. [caption id="attachment_23536" align="alignright" width="225"]Image of binoculars Photo of binoculars[/caption]

Binoculars

Binoculars are a great gift for your bird watching friends and loved ones! Be sure to get ones with a strap so that way they can carry them around in their bird watching activities.

Bird Feed

Birds depend on reliable food sources during the winter. Suggestions: Sunflower seeds are favored by chickadees, evening grosbeaks, tufted titmice, blue jays, finches and cardinals, among others. White proso millet is preferred by ground-feeding birds such as sparrows. Corn, on or off the cob, are enjoyed by medium sized birds including the mourning dove and common grackle.

Bird Feeder Accessories

Spruce up the feeder! Consider attaching a convenience perch – simply a small tree branch or stick – to the side of the feeder to reduce congestion and provide a place for birds to crack open seeds.

Bicycle Accessories

Anything bicycle-related makes a good gift, such as a new bike helmet or a gift certificate for a comprehensive bicycle tune-up. A pass for a guided hike or wilderness trip is just the thing to get someone active outdoors! [caption id="attachment_23542" align="alignleft" width="245"]bike-926063_1920 Grad some great bicycle accessories![/caption]

Compost Bin

If you’re a gardener, composting is an ideal way to turn non-animal kitchen and yard waste into free fertilizer. If you’re not a gardener, composting is still a practical way to reduce the volume of solid waste that your household produces. Lee Valley Tools has a cool indoor stainless steel compost bin; it’s attractive enough to put on your countertop, and it comes with biodegradable compost bags.

Singing Bird Clock

Keep track of the time and learn common bird calls with a singing bird clock. Most models allow you to turn the sound off at night, and during the day, the top of each hour is hailed by a house finch, mourning dove, blue jay, house wren, tufted titmouse, or many other species.

Tree Faces

These amusing outdoor décor items add whimsy to your backyard or garden. It’s also fun to see a person’s reaction when they finally notice your tree has a face! Caution: Get the faces with the wrap-around attachments; don’t nail to the tree!

The Bedside Book of Birds, by Graeme Gibson

For armchair naturalists who appreciate words as much as birds. Poetry, prose, myths and beautiful illustrations make this book a true joy to read. Available in virtually any book store, including Chapters.

The Birder's Conservation Handbook: 100 North American Birds at Risk by Jeff Wells

Finally! An easy-to-read book written specifically to help birders and researchers understand the status of North America's most threatened birds, and what can be done to protect them. The Birder's Conservation Handbook is beautifully illustrated and a must-read for anyone who loves birds. [caption id="" align="alignright" width="134"] The Birder's Conservation Handbook[/caption]

Waterproof Notebooks

Don’t let wet weather keep you indoors! Bird listing and sketching is still possible with a waterproof notebook, and we especially like the ones that fit inside a pocket.

Breeding Bird Atlas

For the serious birder in your family, a bird atlas is a survey of the nesting areas of birds in a particular region. You can even contribute to a bird atlas by participating in local bird counts.

Programmable Thermostat or Water-saving Showerhead

Conserving energy means preserving wildlife. There are plenty of ways to reduce energy consumption around the home.

Make a donation in someone’s name to Nature Canada or the conservation organization of your choice

There are many worthy causes that work on the local, regional and national level to protect nature. Give you and your loved ones peace of mind this year.
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Nature Canada to host community fall BioBlitz in Ottawa’s Mud Lake area
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Nature Canada to host community fall BioBlitz in Ottawa’s Mud Lake area

OTTAWA (September 10, 2014) ― Nature Canada and naturalist experts from across the National Capital Region are gathering this weekend to host a fall “BioBlitz” in Ottawa’s Mud Lake area near Britannia Park. The event is open to the general public and is part of a larger effort to learn more about the state of local biodiversity and catalogue changes over time in population patterns. The event runs over a 24 hour period from 3pm on Friday to 3pm on Saturday and includes guided tours for the general public focussing on how to identify groups such as plants, birds, amphibians and reptiles. “Our goal is to involve the general public in the scientific process and to have fun while doing it,” said Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s Manager of Protected Areas. MacDonald continued, “our hope is that lots of people join us for a fun, engaging day at this unique urban wilderness site”. MacDonald and other Ottawa-area naturalist experts are aiming to locate, identify and photograph as many different species as possible around the site in a 24 hour period. For more information including a full schedule of events and directions to the site, members of the general public are encouraged to visit: http://naturecanada.ca/news/blog/nature-canadas-fall-bioblitz-at-mud-lake/

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[one_half][separator headline="h2" title="Media Contacts:"] Paul Jorgenson, Senior Communications Manager 613-562-3447 ext 248 | pjorgenson@naturecanada.ca Sarah Kirkpatrick-Wahl, Conservation Coordinator 613-562-3447 ext 252 | skirkpatrick-wahl@naturecanada.ca Monica Tanaka, Communications Coordinator 613-562-3447 ext 241 | mtanaka@naturecanada.ca [/one_half] [one_half_last][separator headline="h2" title="About Nature Canada"] Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada.[/one_half_last]

Opposition to Ostrander Point Wind Plant Continues to Build
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Opposition to Ostrander Point Wind Plant Continues to Build

On Tuesday, March 8, the Kingston Field Naturalists organized a special workshop on the significance of eastern Lake Ontario for birds in light of several proposals to build wind energy projects in the area, and the high number of bird casualties reported at Wolfe Island wind energy plant . Representing Nature Canada, I gave a presentation on the Important Bird Area Program, placing the Wolfe Island wind plant and the proposed Ostrander Point wind plant in the context of this program. Kingston Field Naturalists have a rich and long history of documenting birds within the Kingston area, which stretches from the west end of Prince Edward County to the Thousand Islands on the extreme east end of Lake Ontario. The workshop included a number of presentations by local naturalists and field ornithologists, who painted a picture of a part of Ontario with extremely high significance for breeding and migrating birds. Data presented on behalf of Ron Weir, local ornithologist and bird record keeper for the club for decades, described how monitoring night migrants by their call notes to each other has demonstrated that millions of birds pass over the area each fall and spring. David Okines, life-long field ornithologist and manager of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory, (PEPBO) described the nature of the migration in detail, from the streams of diurnal raptors that hug the coast and funnel into the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area, to variations within the timing of migratory movements of individual species of songbirds. PEPBO is on the tip of the Long Point peninsula on the southern coast of Prince Edward County, about 10 kilometres east of Ostrander Point. Okine’s presentation of observatory data collected over dozens of years left little doubt that the area is truly a concentration point for land birds and waterfowl, and that wind plants built in the area would inflict a heavy toll on some species.  However, the question of whether nocturnal migrant birds migrate along broad fronts, or form distinct corridors of movement was never clearly resolved, with perhaps the best answer being “yes.” Valerie Wyatt of Stantec Inc., had a much greater challenge in presenting the methods and results of their study of bird deaths at the Wolfe Island wind plant, owned and operated by TransAlta Corp.  She explained, to a tough and cynical audience, that Stantec’s monitoring methods are considered the best in the business, while maintaining that the casualty rates at Wolfe Island are within the range of kill rates expected at wind farms, and below threshold levels of acceptable casualty rates set by the government regulators. Local naturalist Kurt Hennige’s presentation of monitoring efforts of the Short-eared Owl – carried out for decades by members of the Kingston Field Naturalists on Wolfe and Amherst Islands – reached a different conclusion about the impact of the Wolfe Island wind plant. Hennige’s findings strongly suggest that the distribution of Short-eared Owl on Wolfe Island has changed because of the wind plant – they  no longer occupy the area around the turbines that have been their core wintering grounds for decades. The Short-eared Owl, a species that has declined steadily over the past 40 years, is listed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as "Special Concern". Hennige also noted that the long-time resident Red-tailed Hawks were absent from their perches on the west side of Wolfe Island for the first time since observations were gathered dozens of years earlier. Observers who did the regular winter surveys became familiar with individual birds, recognizing their behaviour and consistent use of the same perches. Stantec’s monitoring crew had discovered 10 dead Red-tailed Hawk beneath the turbines, likely including the resident pairs. The spotlight gradually shifted from Wolfe Island to Ostrander Point, where Gilead Power Corporation, is planning to build nine turbines on the Ostrander Point Crown Land block. Local volunteer naturalists from the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, Myrna Wood and Cheryl Anderson, described in cool, unemotional detail where the turbines are being proposed on this environmentally significant property. They pointed out that the specific locations of the nine turbines are within the provincially recommended 120 metre setback from provincially significant features, including provincially significant forest, wetland or habitat of species at risk, such as the Blanding’s Turtle.
Left to right: Cheryl Anderson and Myrna Wood
No matter where on the property the turbines are situated, the proposed wind plant would be only seven kilometres from the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area, designated for its value to migratory landbirds, within a candidate Provincial Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, in the heart of a globally significant IBA, and in an area recognized by the Canadian Wildlife Service as one of the best locations for migrant birds in Southern Ontario. It boggles the mind to consider what provincial regulators were thinking when Ostrander Point was put on the table as a location for a potential wind energy plant. The meeting was closed by John Bennett, Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada. Bennett was invited by conference organizer Chris Hargreaves in response to an Action Alert released a few weeks earlier by the Sierra Club that included this statement:
There appears to be a backlash against wind energy across Ontario. Is it real? It looks suspiciously like a campaign sponsored by Ontario’s opposition Conservative Party and its backers. Using misinformation about costs and safety, it plays on people’s fears in order to destroy public support for Ontario’s Green Energy Act.
In an extraordinary and unanticipated reaction, and much to his credit, Bennett accepted the offer, and turned up for the last part of the workshop. He faced a hostile audience. Bennett did not apologize for Sierra Club’s position, emphasizing the overwhelming consensus that climate change, driven by the burning of fossil fuels like coal to generate electricity, is the issue that requires people’s attention and support, and that the attack on wind energy will put Ontario back 20 years in its campaign to get off coal. However, after taking in Myrna’s and Cheryl’s presentation, and describing Sierra Club’s position and reasons, he acknowledged that locating wind energy plants in areas of great significance for birds was both bad for biodiversity and bad for the wind energy industry, and that this element of rolling out wind energy will have to receive more consideration by Sierra Club .   In the end, Bennett agreed that Sierra Club would consider adding its voice to the growing opposition to the Ostrander Point wind project.

Connect with Nature in 2011
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Connect with Nature in 2011

If you're still looking for something to make 2011 a year to remember, why not join your local naturalists' club? These groups organize wildlife hikes, bird identification, and nature seminars among many other activities. Whether you already have a passion for nature or are just starting your connection with our natural world, a naturalists' club is a great way to learn more about the world around us. And don't forget to tell us about your adventures in nature in the comments. There's no time like the present to make the commitment to connect with nature!

UPDATE – Version française – Your thoughts on the state of Environment Canada’s protected areas?
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UPDATE – Version française – Your thoughts on the state of Environment Canada’s protected areas?

Hello Readers! Bonjours lecteurs! Yesterday I posted information about a survey that Nature Canada is conducting to determine naturalists' and nature enthusiasts' views on the condition/state of Environment Canada's protected areas. To be more specific, I posted information on the English version of this survey. Mais, veuillez noter qu'il y a aussi une version française du sondage disponible içi. Once again, the French version of Nature Canada's survey is available here. Thanks for your interest! Merci infiniment de votre intérêt!

Your thoughts on the state of Environment Canada’s protected areas?
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Your thoughts on the state of Environment Canada’s protected areas?

Hello Readers! Have you ever visited one of Canada's National Wildlife Areas or Migratory Bird Sanctuaries? These sites make up Environment Canada's network of protected areas and complement our national parks system and provincial/territorial protected areas networks from coast to coast, to coast. Eventually, Marine Wildlife Areas will also make up Environment Canada's network, with the Scott Islands off of northern Vancouver Island slated as the first addition in 2012. Regardless of how you answer the above question, Nature Canada would like to know your views on National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries. In fact, we're in the process of conducting of survey of naturalists and nature enthusiasts across Canada (and beyond) to better understand their views on the condition/state of these areas. Simply follow this link if you'd like to participate in the survey. Time to complete the survey shouldn't exceed 25 minutes and will vary depending on your level of familiarity with Environment Canada's protected areas. Nature Canada will use the results of this survey to inform a formal report on the state of Canada's National Wildlife Areas and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries (to be completed this fall). The report will build on previous work we've done on this theme, including Conserving Wildlife on a Shoestring Budget (2002) and Wildlife In Crisis (2004). Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the survey and/or Nature Canada's protected areas program. Photo 1 - A. Teucher, CFB Suffield National Wildlife Area

Young Naturalists’ Club of BC celebrates their birthday with a gift for you
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Young Naturalists’ Club of BC celebrates their birthday with a gift for you

A growing body of evidence confirms that when children spend time in nature they are healthier, happier, and smarter. Since 2000, the Young Naturalists' Club of BC has been connecting children with nature through a growing network of volunteer-led family and school nature clubs across the province. Sharp-shinned hawks, long-toed salamanders, sea otters - these are some of the wild neighbours Young Naturalists' Club members meet on Explorer Days, learn about in NatureWILD Magazine or work to protect while earning Action Awards. Celebrate the YNC's birthday with a present for you - a chance at winning a signed Robert Bateman Print! Robert Bateman's artwork reflects his deep connection with the natural world. He, better than anyone, knows the importance of getting children outside and exploring the natural world. You can learn more about how time spent in a nature has influenced this celebrated Canadian Artist in the spring issue of NatureWILD Magazine. In celebration of the Young Naturalists' Club of BC's 10th birthday, Robert Bateman has generously donated two signed prints to the YNC to help raise funds and connect more children with nature. Individuals making a donation to the YNC this year will have a chance to win one of the signed Robert Bateman prints. Names will be randomly drawn twice throughout the year - once this spring at the YNC Annual General Meeting in Kamloops May 16th and donors have a second chance to win a signed Robert Bateman Print at the YNC 10th Birthday Party during the fall. Donations can be made online at http://www.ync.ca/. Thank you for giving the gift of nature to young Canadians! Thanks to our friends at the Young Naturalists' Club of BC for sharing this post with us.

Rare Opportunity to See Labrador Duck
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Rare Opportunity to See Labrador Duck

Have you ever heard of a Labrador Duck? I hadn't, until a unique event to be held this weekend at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto was brought to my attention. The Labrador Duck once inhabited the eastern coast of North America and was a common breeder in the area of Cartwright, Labrador over 300 years ago. It has been extinct for more than 100 years, with only 55 known stuffed specimens in collections, both public and private, around the world. The ROM has one of these specimens - previously locked in a fireproof safe for decades - that is recognized as the world's best preserved. They will be bringing it out of the vault on the afternoon of Sunday, September 20 for public viewing from 1:00-3:00 p.m. in conjunction with the release of Dr. Glen Chilton's new book, The Curse of the Labrador Duck. Dr. Chilton is a Canadian ornithologist and behavioral biologist who is the world's leading expert on the Labrador Duck. He has traveled around the globe in search of specimens and stories about this elusive species. If you're in the Toronto area, this event is a rare opportunity to learn more about Canada's natural history.

Nature Photo Mystery Revealed: Indian Pipe
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Nature Photo Mystery Revealed: Indian Pipe

A co-worker of mine, Sue, came across this while walking through trails this weekend 12km from Bon Echo Provincial Park. Not sure what it was, she quickly snapped a photo and brought it into the office. So what is it?
Says staff naturalist Ted Cheskey:
The plant in Sue’s photo is called Indian Pipe. The white colour betrays the fact that this is a plant – but a strange one, in that it does not produce chlorophyll – the green pigment used in photosynthesis that normally is used to place an organism in the plant kingdom. In other words, this is an exceptional plant.
Not being able to photosynthesize, it gets its energy from other plants, by tapping into them with its rootlets. It is not alone in being an “exceptional” plant. Other plants that derive their nourishment from fungus or other plants include Pinesap, Beechdrops, One-flowered Cancerroot, and Squawroot.

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