Autumn Update from the Stewards

This summer, Natural History had three main goals: First, to maintain the collection and a consistent temperature in the storage containers, in which the treasures are currently stored. Second, to host our usual speaker series and nature walk programs. Third, to connect with the community on a regular basis by having a presence at the Farmer’s Market.

The speaker series launched with a presentation by Dorrie Woodward, a Denman Island marine conservationist. Dorrie spoke about the important issue of plankton and microplastics in our local waters. She discussed what is known about them and solutions to reduce and prevent microplastic pollution. It is a serious concern because plankton often mistake microplastics for food, causing them to spread throughout the marine food web.

Our next talk, hosted by Dan Bowen of the Vancouver Island Paleontology Society, was about the fossil story of marine life in our ancient ocean around Hornby Island. It was intriguing to learn many interesting facts about the different sea creatures that used to occupy these waters. One of these was the Diplomoceras (pictured above), an 8-foot-long creature with a paperclip-shaped shell that their heads could retract into. A “flap” would close their heads in to protect against predators.

We were also fortunate to have Kendrick Brown travel from Victoria to speak about wildfires in our local context and beyond. “Changing Wildfire Regimes” offered a fascinating and timely analysis of changing wildfire regimes throughout history. After the presentation, local fire chief Doug Chinnery discussed a few local fire safety measures that people can make around their homes.

Throughout the summer, we also hosted several nature walks: Birding with Art Martell, Fossils with Dan Bowen and Betty Franklin, Intertidal Zone with Steve MacDonald, and Geology with John Cox. Each of these walks was well attended and highly popular.

Natural History volunteers sold wildlife cards and other goods at the Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays. This year we printed many new local wildlife images by barb to feature on our fundraising cards.

barb biagi selling fundraising cards at Hornby Wild.

barb biagi selling fundraising cards at Hornby Wild.

The Market volunteers heard many stories demonstrating that the Natural History Centre is valued and missed by many of us visiting or living on the island. We look forward to finding it a home once again.

One young patron of the Centre spent a year collecting refundable cans, bottles, and cartons and donated the resulting funds to Natural History! His generosity is heartwarming and inspiring. We didn’t catch the name of this young environmentalist. (If you know him, could you please contact us.)

Much appreciation to the speakers and nature walk leaders for sharing their knowledge with us and supporting the Natural History Centre programming. Many thanks to the wonderful volunteers who sat at the Farmer’s Market throughout the summer, promoting these events and speaking with visitors. A special thank you to Verlie Gilligan for volunteering to make cards, as well as to Oakley Rankin for volunteering to assist with technical support at our three summer speaker events.

Finally, a big thanks to all our supporters for helping with the efforts to lobby the Ministry of Education and the Premier to secure a space in the school when it is rebuilt. Thanks to everyone who completed the school survey and asked that Natural History be relocated in the school rebuild. The survey results showed that the Natural History Centre was viewed as a high priority by the respondents (2nd after the Gym) of community services to be included in the new building.

tina at the fall fair

Tina Wai tables at the fall fair for Natural History.

In September 2019, we set up a table Fall Fair. The red tent looked wonderful decorated with grape vines, hops, red rose hips, and other natural material. A draw was held with two very happy recipients for beautiful photo prints generously donated by Phil Ives and Don Peterson.

As part of the new school program theme of Changing Seasons, we worked with the intermediate students on a bulb planting project. This October, we will once again plant native plants with the students at Helliwell Park.

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