“Having the chance to work outdoors and make a positive impact on the environment is very rewarding,” says Dawson Clermont, a member of the Vancouver Island HSBC Conservation Youth Crew.
“My family has a long history in the conservation field — my dad working in the field for 30 years and my mom on the Garry Oak ecosystem recovery team — so I’ve had a bit of interest in that sort of thing for most of my life.”
The Nature Trust of British Columbia hires crews each summer to tackle a wide variety of conservation activities on properties across the province and learn valuable skills for future employment. Training includes First Aid and Bear Aware as well as the safe handling of power tools.
On Vancouver Island, the crew has worked on conservation properties from the Nanaimo River Estuary and Buttertubs Marsh to Lazo Marsh in the Comox Valley and the Salmon River Estuary.
As Dawson explains, “I’ve learned a lot about many different species of birds and plants both native and invasive. Being able to perform hands-on field work has really been beneficial to what and how I’ve learned.”
When asked about his most challenging tasks, he says, “Some of the scotch broom removals, especially in wet weather, became a bit difficult as well as the Spartina removal because of the very dense and rocky ground.”
His favourite activities include a long list: “I had a lot of fun with our small building projects, like constructing foot bridges, installing stairs in trail systems and building drainage components around the many properties. The surveys were also neat, examining various species of birds and turtles.”
The crews perform on-the-ground work as well as attending workshops from specialists in the field on topics such as bird counts, and forest and wetland ecology. They also contribute to the local community in a variety of ways.
“We feel like most of our work contributes to the communities,” Dawson explains. “But in particular we’ve installed many helpful signs, coordinated broom removals, maintained trail systems and many other things that benefit not only these communities but the environment.”
When asked about his future plans, Dawson says, “I recently finished my first year of engineering at UVic, and I’m planning to attend the renewable energy program at Camosun (College). I see renewable energy as another form of conservation, and with any luck will be working alongside NGO’s like The Nature Trust.”
In 2013, HSBC Conservation Youth Crews are operating on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland, South Okanagan, East Kootenay, and Peace River.
The Nature Trust is pleased to have HSBC Bank Canada as the title sponsor of the HSBC Conservation Youth Crew Program for the eighth year. Other sponsors include BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Ducks Unlimited Canada, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, HRSDC, Shell Canada, and The Tony Cartledge Fund.
As a leading non profit land conservation organization, the Nature Trust of British Columbia is dedicated to protecting B.C.’s natural diversity of plants and animals through the acquisition and management of critical habitats.
Since 1971, the Nature Trust along with its partners has invested more than $80 million to secure over 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres) across B.C.
— HSBC Conservation Youth Crew