Environmental Program Coordinator
Are you under 30 and interested in being an integral part of the reopening of the Hornby Island Natural History Centre this summer?
We are looking for an energetic, enthusiastic, person to join us for 30 hours a week, for 12 weeks, beginning mid-June 2022.
Tasks include working with the Natural History stewards and staff to open the Centre for July 1, 2022, greeting visitors and offering tours of the new exhibition, assisting with summer program events such as our nature walks and speaker series, tracking retail sales and donations and working with the technology in the Centre.
Assets include experience and comfort with public speaking, basic computer skills, a history of being dedicated, responsible and reliable, a keen interest in anything related to the natural world and confirmed accommodation on Hornby Island.
Salary: Minimum wage of $15.65 – $21. an hour depending on education and experience.
Application closing date: April 29, 2022.
Please email a cover letter and your resume to email@example.com
Please share this posting with anyone you know who may be interested.
On March 9, members of the Hornby Island Natural History Centre, Conservancy Hornby Island, Hornby Island Provincial Parks Committee, Comox First Nation and local volunteers joined personnel from BC Parks, BC Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Science Section, BC Conservation Foundation, Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team and several biologists to release caterpillars of Taylor’s Checkerspot butterflies.
This is part of a multi-year project to restore habitat including providing essential host and nectar plants through propagation and planting out twice per year. Since 2016 many thousands of native plants have been planted by project staff and local volunteers, including enthusiastic Hornby Island Community School learners and staff.
Helliwell Park visitors should be on the lookout for the tiny black one inch caterpillars on the trails through the Park’s bluffs. The week of March 7, 5000 of them, raised in captivity for release in the Garry Oak meadows, will hopefully become a self-sustainable population of adult Checkerspots which once flourished there. Park degradation and forest encroachment has resulted in the loss of many species of insects and wildflowers that once thrived on the bluffs and are remembered by islanders. This is the third year of larval releases and the numbers have increased exponentially from 800 in 2020, to 1300 in 2021 and now 5000. The biologists responsible for rearing the larvae through many phases of development called instars have been on a learning curve with ever-improving results.
Checkerspots are an extremely rare endangered species which has been Red-listed by the Canadian government. Once common in coastal Garry Oak ecosystems from Hornby Island to Oregon, First Nations people referred to the butterflies as Whulge, meaning a connection with the land, and it also is their name for the Salish Sea. Salish people successfully managed coastal ecosystems for millennia until colonialism arrived in force in the 1800’s with little understanding of the delicate balance in nature.
If you visit Helliwell this spring or any time, please do your bit to help the restoration project by staying on marked trails and keeping dogs leashed. If you are on the bluffs in April, watch for the caterpillars, and in May watch for the beautiful adults flitting about. Take a photo with GPS and a timestamp if possible and send it to project manager Jennifer Heron at: Jennifer.Heron@gov.bc.ca. Any information will be helpful and much appreciated.
|Dear Friends of Natural History,|
Our beloved Natural History collection has not travelled very far since the school fire forced it into storage in August 2018, but it has moved multiple times. Back and forth, in and out of containers, into the community school for storage and then out again. No fewer than ten shuffles were made, with volunteers carefully carrying the taxidermy eagle, the seagull, and the owl in parade-like processions, once through a snowy winter day and later through one of the hottest days of the summer.
We are happy to let you know that everything has now been safely moved into our new home on the corner of Central and Sollans. On September 1st, a ribbon cutting with bubbly apple juice marked the day the stewards were given the keys. Thanks to the generosity of School District 71, we now have a 5-year lease for the use of this marvelous modular space, and the adjacent large open porch.
How best can we imagine reinstalling our collection given the changes in thinking about natural history centres over the last decade? How can we display the fascinating objects that we hold in trust for the community and at the same time talk about our colonial past and our urgent need to address our broken relationship with the natural world?
Planning sessions with consultants, Michelle Willard, and Claire Guiot of Mighty Museum, coupled with all the information we gathered from our first community survey gave us lots to think about as we began in earnest to plan for our July 2022 reopening.
This past summer, our presence selling Forest Backpacks for families at the Farmer’s Market, Beulah Creek Nursery, and the Co-op Ringside gave us plenty of opportunity to talk with people about their wishes and dreams for the new Hornby Island Natural History Centre. Complete with field guide and over two dozen activities, these backpacks became a catalyst for conversations about how to introduce children to the natural world on Hornby Island.
Kihan Yoon-Henderson returned for her fourth year, first as a summer student and now as intern until March of 2022. Her interviews with a number of community members have given us great insight into some of the environmental changes that have occurred on Hornby over time and into some of the valuable research happening here, collecting and analyzing data as a way to bring needed conversations into the public light.
And we’re thrilled to have installation designer and artist, Emi Honda join us this fall. She has created a lovely flow to the space. You can find her in our new home constructing new displays and sprucing up others.
With so many programs on hold due to Covid-19 and our lack of exhibition space, it was a pleasure to join the senior class of the Hornby Island Community School this October for the 6th year of the Helliwell Park Restoration Project, planting a variety of native grasses, with the ongoing project of reintroducing the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly into the park. We look forward to engaging with more students this spring as we continue to work in our new space figuring out where things will go and what stories they will tell.
Planning for a new summer workshop and speaker series is gently underway as we continue to navigate our world with masks on and windows open.
May the forest and fields around you and all the creatures who call those places home inspire you to spend more time outside building relationships with the natural world.
All the best for a happy and healthy New Year,~ The Natural History Stewards
|Natural History Centre Request for Support|
| With your help, we can create a new space that not only reflects a commitment to deepening our relationships with the natural world but makes visible our growing understanding of changes in thinking about natural history centres in light of our colonial past, our present climate extremes, and our desire to work to ensure a future filled with hope for our children. |
For those of you whose relationship with The Hornby Island Natural History Centre is new, you might not know that we were originally housed in the community school before a fire in August 2018 forced us to close. With our collection stored safely in two large containers, we secured a long-term lease with School District 71 for one of the portable modules on the corner of Central and Sollans.
Please consider making a generous donation to the Hornby Island Natural History Centre before the end of the year. Tax receipts will be issued for donations of 25 dollars or more.
You are welcome to direct your gift to a particular aspect of the new space or request that we allocate it to our general reopening efforts.
– children’s books, puzzles, and games for playful exploration $25
– resource books for researching $50
– touch tables for experiential learning $100
– comfy chairs for reading $250- table and stools for drawing $300
– new displays for herring, birds, and fossils $500
– outdoor signage for wayfinding $700
– labels and interpretive panels for context $800
You can donate to Natural History online via the HIES’ Canada Helps Donate Page. Click Here for the page. Under “Fund” you can select the Natural History Centre from the drop down options.
Or please address cheques to HIES / Hornby Natural History Centre and mail to: HIES / Natural History, 2100 B Sollans Road, Hornby Island, BC, V0R 1Z0.
Cheques may also be left at the Natural History box at the Free Post. Our new space recently got a fresh coat of white paint, the cabinets and display cases have been moved in, and the eagle, the owl and the vulture are being mounted from the ceiling to help give us an idea of where our other displays might go.
Wishing you the best of the holiday season, All the stewards, staff, and volunteers of the Hornby Island Natural History Centre
Nineteen students from Hornby Island’s Community School participated for the sixth consecutive year in the Garry Oak Ecosystem Restoration Project in Helliwell Provincial Park. On October 13th these volunteers were joined by school staff and parents, Hornby Island Natural History Centre stewards, and a team of biologists from BC Parks and the BC Conservancy Foundation.
This laser-focused group dug out invasive Hairy Cat’s Ear weeds and filled the holes with one of several species of native plants 900 times! These plants once proliferated on the park’s bluffs and provided food and habitat for wildlife. Decades of farming and trampling however have reduced biodiversity within the park to the point that many species of plants and insects have been severely reduced in number or even extirpated. Invasive weeds still dominate, and the mainly Douglas Fir forest slowly and relentlessly continues to encroach on the open grassy meadows. BC Parks has been limbing some trees and removing some of the younger ones since 2015 to preserve and restore space for the meadows to survive. Observant park users may be noticing increased numbers of wildflowers and pollinators because of these efforts by so many concerned amateur and professional naturalists.
Our community as a whole has contributed to the restoration by walking only on delineated pathways, keeping dogs leashed, and providing essential support services. We hope that visitors will still enjoy and appreciate the beauty of Helliwell without loving it to death.
Over the first six years involved in the project, hundreds of Hornby’s students have removed thousands of weeds and planted thousands of native plants propagated and grown by the Natural History Centre’s stewards.
Watch in May and you may see beautiful and extremely rare Taylor’s Checkerspot butterflies flitting about in the grasses. Each year in March the project releases Checkerspot larvae into the park and each year the number of sightings rise. The success that this data demonstrates speaks to the ongoing efforts of so many.
Thank you Hornby School and staff and all concerned!
The Hornby Island Natural History Centre is looking for an intern to be part of a team working to reopen our Centre. This position is funded by Young Canada Works at Building Careers in Heritage through the Canadian Museum Association.
YCW Candidate Eligibility Criteria: In order to apply for the position, candidates must be:
Graduates in an internship program must also:
Graduate with a degree in Environmental Studies, Geography, Education, Museum Studies or Fine Arts-Researcher with excellent written communication, organizational, and computer skills-Experience in writing for the public, display design, layout, and installation
Start date – Sept 7, 2021 with end date of no later than March 31, 2022
30 hours per week
Wage $20 + MERCS Flexible hours, working online as well as on site
If interested in more information and to see the complete job poster
Register online in the YCW website online candidate inventory. Deadline: August 29, 2021
For details, questions or assistance, please visit our website at firstname.lastname@example.org
This summer is the launch of our new Forest Backpacks for Families program and we have invited participants to share their experiences. Check out these finds by young naturalists Lev and Zeva! Thanks so much for sharing your photos with us!
We have Forest Backpacks available! Find Kihan selling them at the Farmer’s Market on Wednesday and Saturday and in the Beulah Creek Nursery Garden on Thursday and Friday from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm for $30. Each pack contains two booklets. It’s also stuffed with all the supplies you need to do the activities, including magnifying glasses, clipboards, paper, and coloured pencils. Explore the world of Hornby Island’s forests together with your family.
We’re looking forward to hearing about your time in the forest! Email us photos of your work, your questions and comments, and we’ll post them on our blog. email@example.com
In anticipation of the Natural History Centre’s reopening, we invited the community to help imagine our new Centre. We heard from eighty people in response. Below is a summary of some of your thoughts and ideas. In response to the question about your ideas for the new NHC, and the types of stories you’d like to see shared, there was a strong response of interest in First Nations history (told by First Nations People) and environmental advocacy. A big thanks to everyone who participated.
It has been three years since our exhibit space was open. What was your overall impression/experience of the Centre?
87 percent of respondents rated the Natural History Centre between “very good” and “outstanding”.
What did you value most about the Natural History Centre?
Our original collection of local fossils, marine life, insects, birds, bones, geology and hands-on activities was used as a resource to learn about the natural environment for fifteen years. Please indicate your top two favourite exhibits.
What kind of programming would you like to see in our new Natural History Centre?
When might you visit the new Natural History Centre or take part in a program?
Here are a few of the many comments we received:
“The programming has been excellent providing education and fostering a respect for the natural world:
I.e. Stressing human relations within nature (community) and the wonder of interconnectedness (found
in nature) alongside more pragmatic stewardship. How we humans can learn from nature. How
indigenous cultures were keepers of the land and sea, long before settlers arrived on Hornby, is
something that is necessary to understand and communicate related to the above.”
“I think it would important to see Indigenous histories of Hornby featured, and to situate the Centre on
whose traditional territories we occupy. Hopefully this could be through collaboration with local host
nations such as the K’ómoks First Nation. As well, I think it would be really interesting to feature the
ways that living sustainably has long been part of the ethos of the Hornby community (from different
forms of water collection, to building materials, to growing food, composting toilets, to stewardship
initiatives, to the recycling depot, to community celebrations etc.). How has an appreciation for the
natural world formed the Hornby community? Why do we all find it so special to be on Hornby? Could
there be an oral history project with elders on the Island to document these very special parts of
Hornby? How has the natural world influenced the artists of the Island, and informed their material
practices? I would love to learn more about native plants as well within the exhibit (although, now I
remember this has long been a component of the ethno-botanical garden, so it is already covered!). I
love the Centre because it has given me a richer sense of the landscape we are in, and who else lives
here (trees, birds, ocean creatures, plants, etc.). Very excited to see this continued in so many ways.”
“Accurate information of those who were here before settlers FROM those whose ancestors were here
before us. Impacts of climate change and emergency we face to change our relationship to the planet.”
“The history of fossils and the understanding of past life on earth. And the new fossil species discoveries
that are being made every year.”
“Role of herring in marine ecosystems. Advocacy for marine conservation in and around Hornby. Effects
of climate change on sea levels, forest evolution and summer droughts.”
“I think that it is very important that the school kids continue to be able to have our natural history centre as a resource for learning. It will be wonderful to have it going once again.”
“Liked the drawing table — used by adults as well as kids! It gave people a chance to give a creative
response to the displays, rather than just passively absorbing information.”
“How about a day each month of spring – summer to hold a festival showcasing some aspect of natural life on Hornby: e.g., Slug Fest, Kept Caper, Owl Hootenay, Cedar Carnival, Amphibian Antics, Raven Rave, Possum
Slow Dance, etc., etc.”
“Thank you to all those that are involved! It’s so inspiring to witness the care for the natural world on Hornby and how thoughtfully all is being considered in order to share this care with the community and visitors.”
BC Parks has put a call out for volunteers to spot and record butterfly larvae at Helliwell Park on Hornby Island. In particular, the little black Taylor’s checkerspot larvae on the plantain plants that they love to feed on. If interested, you can walk along the trails during the warm sunny days of March and April. Start at the trailhead, do a loop, and take a picture if you spot the larvae within one meter of the trail. Please note the time you start, and the time you finish the observation. Observations can be sent to Jennifer Heron at Jennifer.Heron@gov.bc.ca
This year we have seen an irruption of pine siskins and other wintering birds feasting in flocks.
Read more about this phenomenon here: “This Winter Marks an Incredible ‘Superflight’ of Hungry Winter Finches”.
Unfortunately, a large number of the tiny birds are dying from salmonella poisoning that is passed on at backyard bird feeders, including here on the island.
This article explains why a BC wildlife organization is calling on people to remove their backyard feeders to stop the deadly outbreak: “Tiny B.C. birds are dying from salmonella outbreak linked to backyard feeders”.
Please consider removing your bird feeders to avoid spreading salmonella. At the very least, clean them with a 10% bleach solution regularly. However, keep in mind merely cleaning doesn’t prevent sick birds who hang out at the feeder from passing it to other birds.
Cats and other animals can also get salmonella if they catch the birds: the SPCA website sells a special collar aimed to prevent them from catching birds (and prevent them from getting sick as a result). It can be purchased here.
Featured photo: A pine siskin collects dog fur for nesting material. Photo by barb biagi.
On October 27 2020, 19 students from Hornby Island Community School spent a windy afternoon in Helliwell Provincial Park planting native plants on the bluffs. Along with them were the stewards from the Hornby Island Natural History Centre, school staff, parent volunteers, and science staff from BC Parks and the Ministry of the Environment. These 30 people were taking part in the ongoing restoration project of our island’s rare Garry Oak Ecosystem, one of the last in Canada.
Taking part in this project is an integral component of the NHC’s mandate to actively educate the public on the workings of nature. Visitors to the park can do their part to help heal the ecosystem by staying on the marked pathways and keeping dogs leashed to minimize damage to sensitive plants and insects.
Volunteers practiced covid-19 safety protocols while planting.
Featured photo of students planting at Helliwell by barb biagi.
Meet Michelle Willard, Museum Consultant and Specialist!
The Natural History Centre is excited to be working with Michelle Willard of Mighty Museum to envision the future of our Centre and its reopening.
Michelle holds a Master of Arts in Anthropology from the University of British Columbia, with a specialty in Museum Studies. She is inspired by the potential of museums as powerful platforms for social change. With 20 years of experience, Michelle has worked at historic sites, municipalities and museums throughout BC. Notably, the Cumberland Museum and Archives, which Michelle played a key role in developing as the Executive Director (and Curator) for nearly six years, received a Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Community Programming. In 2020, Michelle received a British Columbia Historic Federation award of merit for work she completed for the Museum. Michelle started Mighty Museum to serve the growing needs for specialized community interpretation and engagement at museums, historic sites and parks. Much of the work Mighty Museum does focuses on assisting in the development of small museums.
With Michelle’s guidance, the essential visioning process offers us the opportunity to reimagine our collections and exhibits in these changing times. The NHC will again become a rich and diverse community resource that reflects and inspires a desire for research, understanding, and action.
We are thrilled to collaborate with Michelle and Mighty Museum to plan for the Natural History Centre’s future.
The Natural History Centre is thrilled to acknowledge recent grants that support our Centre’s short and long-term visioning and reopening process, and offer relief during these challenging times. After the fire at the school where we were located in August 2018, followed by the cancellation of our Spring and Summer programming because of Covid-19, the time is right for in-depth planning and reimagining of our exhibits and programming.
Thanks to the Hornby Island Economic Enhancement Corporation (HICEEC) for granting us $2500 towards the planning and research required for reopening the Natural History Centre. The grant will also allow us to create Nature Exploration Backpack Kits that families can rent from us for experiential learning activities with safety protocols in place. An integral part of these kits is to encourage respect and appreciation for the environment, promoting low-impact exploration of the natural world.
Thanks to the Comox Valley Community Foundation (CVCF) and the Hornby Island Community Fund (HICF) for $1200 towards our “Phoenix Planning Project – planning for the future of the Hornby Island Natural History Centre.” This grant will support the first stage of our reopening process, visioning for a new Natural History Centre designed to meet the community’s needs during these changing times.
These grants support a vigorous and practical visioning, planning, and preparation session that our committee will begin in the new year. We are excited to undertake this project with the guidance and expertise of Michelle Willard, a successful museum consultant with 20 years of experience in the Comox Valley. Michelle and colleagues have an organization called Mighty Museum. Mighty Museum is “a consulting group of experienced professionals inspired by the potential of museums as powerful platforms for positive social change.” Together, we will develop a viable, sustainable financial plan to ensure the future of a dynamic new Natural History Centre. This includes reimagining our exhibits and programming, designing displays, and reopening our new space with Covid-19 protocols in place by Spring 2023.
Natural History totes featuring a lovely crow design by Stevi Kittleson and made locally by Leslee Richards and Shirley Wyndham are now for sale at Fibres and Beulah Creek Nursery. They are $25 each (cash only please).
Dear members and friends of the Hornby Island Natural History Centre,
Every summer, we look forward to connecting with those who visit the Natural History Centre and participate in the Centre’s programs. Unfortunately, this year we won’t be holding our usual summer activities due to concerns about the health and safety of participants and volunteers.
Although we are disappointed to miss the important offerings of the speakers and nature walk leaders who were tentatively scheduled, we are glad that they have kindly agreed to join us next summer. In the meantime, we will continue to plan for the future in our new home with the help of museum consultants. For information on the new space, check back in the fall.
Our hearts go out to everyone who has been touched by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wishing you all health and safety,
The Natural History Stewards
This March, Hornby Island Natural History Centre volunteers assisted wildlife recovery specialists with the release of 400 Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly caterpillars into Helliwell Park. The larvae were released into flagged areas that were abundant with plantain, which they love to feast on. Signs have been placed nearby to alerting passerby to stay off the grassy areas to avoid treading on the caterpillars.
For several years, the Natural History stewards have been assisting the Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly Recovery Team by growing native plants in their yards and greenhouses on Hornby Island. Each year, the school students assist the volunteers and recovery team with planting these native plants, as well as weeding in the park. These plants will support the rare butterflies as well as many other insect species, including pollinators such as bees, which are key members of natural ecosystems.
If all goes as planned, you may be lucky to spot the small black, white, and orange checker-winged butterflies flittering around the meadow by mid-May!
Dear members and friends of the Hornby Island Natural History Centre,
The Natural History committee sends our well wishes to everyone during these difficult and uncertain times. Amidst the growing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, we are thinking of our community and visitors both locally and internationally.
Although the Natural History Centre has been closed since the fire at our location in the Community School, we have been actively planning upcoming spring and summer 2020 events, as well as laying the ground for the future of the Centre and collection. This planning includes a (virtual) meeting with a museum consultant to aid in our visioning process in April.
Regarding our summer programming, considering the serious health concerns about the spread of coronavirus, we will continue to assess the facts and take appropriate measures.
Physical distancing and social support are essential during this time to care for one another, and to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Harvard’s coronavirus education page is a useful resource for the evolving situation: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/coronavirus-resource-center
The Province of BC’s Public Health Services is another helpful resource: https://news.gov.bc.ca/ministries/health
We know how much the Centre means to our friends and community members, near and far. We look forward to sharing in the wonders of Hornby’s natural environment with you in the future.
Wishing you all health, safety, and happiness.
The Natural History Stewards
Garden photos by Tina Wai.
On December 6th, 2019, community members, parents, and children filled the Hornby Island Community Hall for the highly anticipated new school funding announcement. Our MLA, the Minister of Education, and members of SD 71 were present to share the news and answer questions.
The Minister announced that the Hornby Community School was allocated 10.4 million to rebuild the school. The community was thrilled to learn that there would be a full-sized gym in the new school. The construction of the school is to begin in 2020 and the anticipated date of completion is spring 2022.
People were also thrilled to learn that the Natural History Centre will be included “on site” in the rebuild! The exact location has yet to be determined, but we are happy to learn that Natural History will be part of the school once again. After the announcement, the Minister told one of our Stewards that it was wonderful to have a natural history collection in a school and as part of the curriculum.
Both the MLA and the Minister thanked the community for their engagement and made it clear that our needs were heard. We are happy to share this good news with you: it is because of your supportive efforts that the Hornby Island Natural History Centre anticipates having a most suitable location to continue our educational programs!
Warm Seasons Greetings,
The Natural History Stewards Committee
Natural History is excited to share that we have received a community enrichment grant for our proposed project: “Birds and Books: Displaying a Hornby Island Natural History Exhibit in the School Library.”
We are looking forward to begin this project which will display some of the taxidermy birds in the current school library. This grant will allow the taxidermied birds to be on display for the community, bringing the natural history collection to life once again.
The display will be brought to life by local artist Emi Honda, who created our beautiful forest bird diorama in the past. Emi will work to arrange the taxidermied birds realistically in the display cases with natural elements such as leaves, rocks, moss, and branches.
A warm thank you to the Hornby Island Community Fund and Comox Valley Community Foundation for granting us 1350.00 for this project! We would also like to thank Florette, the school librarian, for her support and finding a spot in the library to include the displays.
Pictured above: Emi designs a previous forest bird diorama with the Natural History Centre. Photo by barb biagi.