Thursday, 13 May 2021

Community Highlight: WILD Outside


1. How and when did you form your group? 
WILD Outside is a national conservation-based leadership program for youth ages 15 to 18. WILD Outside programs started in Regina and Saskatoon in March 2020 with funding from the Canadian Service Corps initiative. The goal is to get youth outside, connected with nature and wildlife, and feeling inspired to protect it. 

2. What are your principal activities and why do you believe they’re important? 
We offer 3 different activities for youth: outdoor adventures (think hiking, canoeing, snowshoeing, and more), community service projects (planting gardens, cleaning up parks, or building bird houses, to name a few), and guest speakers/webinars on broad environmental topics. These experiences, which are free for all participants, allow youth to explore themselves in the natural world and create environmental stewardship habits for the future. 

3. What were your successes (big or small) in 2020? 
Despite piloting the program in Saskatchewan during a pandemic, the local WILD Outside groups had 45 youth register for the program in 2020. Clearly youth are still looking to get outside and make meaningful change in their communities – and that is a very powerful message! Three youth even earned their 40-hour certificates before the end of the year. 

4. What would you like to achieve in 2021? 
In addition to growing our WILD Outside cohorts, we hope to see our first youth complete 120 hours of service in the program. We also look forward to youth taking on more leadership roles. We are off to a good start so far this year with youth stepping up to lead environmental policy conversations, plan fossil tours, and more. We are also looking to strengthen partnerships with other organizations that have shared values and interests in order to build thriving eco-minded communities. 


5. If you could have 3 wishes for improving your community, what would they be?
 
As youth leaders in Saskatchewan, we’d love to see more wildlife-friendly areas in and around cities, more access to affordable outdoor recreation activities for youth, and more diverse leadership in the outdoors and in conservation. 

6. Are there volunteer opportunities with your organization? If so, please describe them and indicate how people can contact you. 
Absolutely! We accept new youth registrations year-round. If you are between the ages of 15-18 and are interested in nature and the outdoors, head to wildoutside.ca to find out more and apply! There is no cost to join or to participate in any activities – we cover it all. 

Other opportunities include adult volunteers to help supervise our events and community organizations to partner with for our service projects. For these opportunities, contact us below. 

Regina: Erin Pippin (erinp@cwf-fcf.org) and Jory Cadman (joryc@cwf-fcf.org

Saskatoon: Raea Gooding (raeag@cwf-fcf.org) and Alayna Chan (alaynac@cwf-fcf.org

You can also follow our national program’s account on Instagram @wildoutside.ca 

Photo One: Katrina gives her paddleboarding adventure the thumbs up in Saskatoon

Photo Two: Participants Tyan (left) and Shannon inspect their finds during a pond-dipping event at McKell Wascana Conservation Area, Regina

We’re planning to highlight the work of volunteer organizations in our communities on a regular basis over the next year. Email us if you would like your organization to be profiled on EcoFriendly Sask

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

EcoSask News, May 11, 2021

spider

This Week’s Highlights 
The Provincial Association of Resort Communities of Saskatchewan is hosting a series of webinars on water, including one on the rights of nature at 7 pm, May 19. 

Natures Wild Neighbours Society invites you to upload your nature-inspired art, photography, writing, video, or music entry before June 1, 2021, for a chance to win some wild prizes (full contest details). 

Upcoming Events 
Permaculture Saskatchewan is holding its annual general meeting online at 7 pm, May 17. 

Join Nature Regina from 7-8:30 pm, May 17, for a presentation on the Suzuki Foundation’s Butterflyway Project. Several Nature Regina members have been selected to be Butterflyway rangers. 

There will be a virtual panel discussion on climate risk disclosure and Saskatchewan business from 12-1:30 pm, May 18. Register early to avoid disappointment. 

For Our Kids Saskatchewan will share information and ideas for climate action from 7-8:30 pm, May 20, online. 

SaskOutdoors is offering a Paddle Canada Lake Canoe course in Saskatoon from May 22-24. 

Looking Ahead 
The Society for Range Management – Prairie Parkland Chapter is holding a hands-on/virtual learning workshop on May 26-27 entitled Back to the Field: Discovering the Dunes in Dundurn: Range Health and Rare Plants

SaskOutdoors is hosting a remote first aid workshop near Saskatoon on June 5-6. 

House Wren with a nice juicy spider

Local News 
The public is invited to complete an online survey between May 12 and June 2 on the City of Saskatoon's proposed Renewable Energy Strategy that will inventory, analyze, and prioritize renewable energy options in Saskatoon based on their financial, environmental, and social impacts.

A grade 7 class from Lac La Ronge Indian Band has collected over 20,000 signatures calling on the government to reject a proposal to mine peat moss near La Ronge. 

Urban Transit 
Take a close look at all the different modes of urban transit and there’s one that stands head and shoulders above all the others in terms of environmental impact – cycling. “We need more bikes generally and more e-bikes specifically on the road, which means your city needs to invest in bike-lane infrastructure to make people safe and comfortable on two wheels.” 


Energy 
An Alberta farmer is taking abandoned oil well sites and transforming them into solar farms. “Farmers get new lease revenues, counties get taxes lost from abandoned wells and presto energy transition.” 

“Anyone doing home renovations or a new build should take time to ensure their electrical grid is equipped to handle an electric-vehicle charging station.” 

“Creepy Crawlies” 
Pesticides are killing the earthworms, beetles, ants, and other soil-dwelling invertebrates that are critical to maintaining healthy soils

“Spiders need our help, and we may need to overcome our biases and fears to make that happen.” Spiders have “enormous ecological value as food for birds and other animals. They’re also important to people, both as predators of pest species and as inspiration for medicines and engineering.” 


Did you know? Grass Spider are also called Funnel Weaver Spider as they construct a flat, horizontal web across the grass or around buildings with a funnel on one side where they hide. The web isn't sticky, but it slows down any insects (usually flying ones) that try to cross it. The spider then rushes out from where it is hiding to grab its prey. (Nature Companion)

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner). 

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Nature Apps for Kids

birds

We did some digging on the internet and came up with some nature apps that we think look great for families with kids. This is by no means a comprehensive list but will hopefully serve as a good starting point. 

Nature Identification Apps 
iNaturalist is a great place to share your observations of nature. If you can’t work out what something is, there’s sure to be someone on iNaturalist who will be able to help you. You can also participate in various projects, pooling your observations with those of others (e.g. City Nature Challenge). (free, android and iOS) 

Seek was developed by iNaturalist and uses image recognition software to help you identify plants and animals. Point your camera at a living thing and Seek will tell you what it is. (free, android and iOS) 

Three other apps that use image recognition software are Leafsnap (free, android and iOS), Plantsnap ($ and free, android and iOS), and Picture Insect (free, android and iOS). 

Many animals are shy and hard to spot, but with iTrack Wildlife you may be able to identify them by their tracks. iTrack Basic includes the tracks of 40 common mammals, while iTrack Pro includes over 800 track photographs. ($, android and iOS) 

Audubon Owls Guide, an interactive guide to North America’s 19 owl species, offers descriptions, range maps, and audio vocalizations to help you identify the owls in your neighbourhood. (free, iOS) 

Audubon offers a wide variety of other nature apps, including Mammals, Birds, Wildflowers, Mushrooms, and Reptiles

With Sky Guide/Sky Map, you can point your phone at the sky and identify stars, constellations, and satellites. Sky Guide is highly recommended for iOS ($), while Sky Map may be a better android option (free).
 
lorikeet

Nature Stories & Games 
Find the Birds brings bird watching to the screen. Visit Arizona to discover its birds. Complete conservation quests to improve the birds’ habitats, and collect information cards with photos, videos, and sounds. The next geographic region to be added to the game will be British Columbia. (free, iOS and android) 

Animals for Kids is a fun way for 1-4 year olds to learn the names and sounds of different animals. Bonus - you can learn the animals’ names in 7 different languages. ($, android and iOS) 

Care for our World, an animated story book, incorporates an animal encyclopedia, colouring pages, and a game. You can also place animals in custom habitats. ($, iOS) 

WWF Together lets you interact with endangered animals to find out how they live. You can try out “tiger vision,” flap your wings like a butterfly, and chop the panda’s bamboo. (free, iOS) 

What is your family's favorite nature app? Have you found a good app for identifying Canadian trees? Let us know and we'll add them to the list.


Nature Companion 
Last, but definitely not least, we encourage everyone to download EcoFriendly Sask’s Nature Companion, which introduces over 300 of the trees, plants, insects, reptiles, animals, and birds found in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. Nature Companion provides short, easy-to-understand descriptions and colourful photographs along with a Did you know? section with interesting, unexpected details about each species. 

We think it’s an amazing resource for children, tourists, newcomers, and curious observers who are eager to learn more about the world around them. It’s free (and ad-free) and can be downloaded directly from the Nature Companion website Help page

Nature Companion has “been a great teaching tool for my inquisitive kid who always asks me 1000 questions including what kind of bird or tree he's looking at...it’s nice to have that info accessible and easy to find. K. gives this app a big thumbs-up as does his mom who now knows which yellow bird is always in our yard (yellow warbler!)” [Nicole] 

See Also 
Outdoor Explorations in Saskatchewan

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

EcoSask News, May 4, 2021

Jackrabbit

This Week’s Highlights 
Ann Coxworth will discuss small model nuclear reactors from 7-8:30 pm, May 11, online, as part of the Sustainability Speakers series. 

As part of a growing trend, major tech companies are “teaming with oil giants to use automation, AI, and big data services to enhance oil exploration, extraction, and production.” 

Upcoming Events 
There will be a noon-hour webinar on greater sage-grouse and grassland songbirds on May 11 as part of the Native Prairie Speaker Series. 

Nature Regina is hosting an online Get Outside Kids’ Club from 1:30-2:30 pm, May 12. 

Learn how you can create a nature refuge in your own backyard in Gardening with Native Plants, a digital NatureCity Conversation from 7-9 pm, May 12. 

The annual RCE Saskatchewan Education for Sustainable Development Recognition event will be held online from 9 am-noon, May 12. 

The Wildlife Rescue Society of Saskatchewan is holding a virtual annual general meeting at 2 pm, May 16. 

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Saskatoon Young Naturalists 
May 26-July – Mary Houston Bluebird Trail 
July 14, 1 pm – Mid-week Butterflies 
Aug. 11, 1 pm – Mid-week Butterflies 
Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment. 

Golden Eagles 
May 6, 8 am – Waterfowl at Porter Lake 
May 13, 8 am – Clavet Area Birding 
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
May 8, 2:30-3:30 pm, Waterfowl Viewing on the River 
May 9, 7-8 am – MVA Trail Birding 
May 15, 1:30-4:30 pm – Birding Trip to Proctor Lake 
Field trips are currently for members only, so sign up now. Advance registration is required. 

Local News 
Humboldt Lake cannot support fish as it “has a phosphate concentration that is 6 to 10 times higher than what is considered to be a healthy lake” due to treated wastewater and agriculture and industry. 

La Ronge Library is now sharing seeds as well as books

Environmental Racism 
Urban inequality affects wildlife as well as people. “To Schell, the solution is to design cities that work for all people and animals. Coyotes may not be the most welcome neighbors, but Schell says they maintain balance in our ecosystems. Carving out green spaces for both humans and wildlife to enjoy can foster the biodiversity we need to draw down carbon, cool our cities, and keep our air and water clean.” 

Many racialized and low-income communities have borne the brunt of polluting industries and other environmental hazards. Federal Bill C-230 is an important first step in addressing who is affected the most by climate change and its impacts.
 
Magpie

The Future of Coal 
Shutting down Germany’s lignite coal mines requires citizen engagement – both miners and climate activists. 

The steel industry, reliant on coal for centuries, is looking at alternatives. A University of Calgary professor believes “the expansion of metallurgical-coal mining in Alberta is an example of the province ‘chasing the next thing that’s going to die.’” 

Urban Biodiversity 
Dutch citizens are working hard to protect bees – and so far it’s working. Check out their bee hotels, bee-friendly roof-garden bus stops, and honey highway

An international roundtable shares ideas for increasing urban biodiversity – from mandating the using of native plants in public landscapes to a manual on conserving biodiversity in urban subdivisions, developing a shared vision among public and private stakeholders, and celebrating Green Capitals of Biodiversity. 

Check out EcoFriendly Sask’s Nature Companion, a free nature app for Canada’s four western provinces 


EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Eagles of Western Canada

Bald eagle

It’s always a treat to see a bird of prey. We’re eager to introduce you to the ones you’re most likely to see in Western Canada. We've already looked at falcons and hawks. Last but certainly not least, the eagles. 

Eagles are large, powerful birds. Two species can be found in North America – the bald eagle and the golden eagle. 

Bald Eagle 
Bald eagles live in forested areas near coasts, rivers, and large lakes. They eat mainly fish, so you’re most likely to spot one in areas where fish are plentiful (near a fish processing plant, a dam, or a spawning run). You may also spot one of their enormous stick nests in large trees near the water. 

Size, colour, and shape are useful clues when identifying a bald eagle. They are one of the largest birds in North America with a heavy body, a large head, and a hooked yellow beak. You can often spot their white head and tail which stand out against their chocolate-brown body and wings. Their wings are very large and are flat as a board when they fly. Young birds take 5 years to develop their adult colouring. Until then, they have mottled white on brown markings and their head isn't white. 

Did you know? Bald eagles can reach speeds of up to 100 mph when diving or 40 mph when cruising. Young birds are nomads, exploring vast territories and flying hundreds of miles per day.
 
bald eagle

Golden Eagle 
Look for golden eagles in open areas near mountains, hills, and cliffs in British Columbia and Alberta. They usually nest on cliffs but may nest in trees or tall human-made structures. They hunt mostly small animals (rabbits, hares, ground squirrels, prairie dogs). 

Golden eagles soar or glide with wings lifted in a slight V and wingtip feathers spread out like fingers. The adults are dark brown with golden-brown feathers on the back of their head and neck. Their heads are smaller than those of bald eagles. The young have white patches under their wings and at the base of the tail. 

Did you know? The golden eagle's territorial/courtship display is known as sky dancing and consists of a series of steep dives and upward swoops. 


Nature Companion 
You’ll find lots more information about birds on EcoFriendly Sask’s Nature Companion, an entry-level nature app for Canada’s four western provinces. 


See Also 

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Community Highlight: One School One Farm Shelterbelt Project


Elizabeth Bekolay shares the story behind the One School One Farm Shelterbelt Project

1. How and when did you form your group? 
The idea came in August of 2018. I was in a ceremony with some family and friends and I was praying for guidance on how to help the land and future generations. The phrase came fully formed - one school one farm. All the connections were there in an instant: the need for more biodiversity, the need for more diverse shelterbelts that provide more ecological and economic services, the need to sequester carbon, the need to care for the water cycle, the need to bridge the ever-growing rural-urban divide of community and understanding, the need to get kids' hands in the dirt and give them purpose, and the need to address nature deficit issues and to teach ecological literacy. 

Our board came together through gatherings the following winter and we were registered as a federal non-profit in July of 2019. 

2. What are your principal activities and why do you believe they’re important? 
We connect a teacher with a land steward and facilitate the relationship that will culminate in the planting of an eco-buffer, prairie strip, or whatever design adds to the biodiversity and carbon sequestration potential of the land. So far this has included consulting on design, species selection, and ecological functions. 

3. What were your successes (big or small) in 2020? 
In 2020 we planned our pilot project and, even though it was cancelled because of Covid, this gave our group and participants time to settle into the process and build further on the relationships. Many students in the class involved last year are still involved this year, so that is positive. 


4. What would you like to achieve in 2021? 
We plan to have a wildly successful pilot project season with 3 different land stewards and 4 different classes planting an ecobuffer, a prairie restoration, and a food forest. We have students growing out plants for these projects right now (photos attached of the Walter Murray Outdoor School prairie plant nursery set up). 

GROVICTORIA: Groveland Regenerative Farm and Ecole Victoria School, Saskatoon (Ben Oaken's grade 6/7 class) 
Goal: To design and plant an eco-buffer shelterbelt 
The students have been researching eco-buffer design and all of the species they hope to incorporate. They are using Minecraft to lay out the design with specific symbols and legenda to indicate the species they are adding. Grovenland has 500 trees coming in early May. 

WALTERESTORATION: Restoring 71 and Walter Murray School, Saskatoon (Outdoor School and Brian Thorstad's Grade 9 class) 
Goal: Prairie restoration 
The students have been growing prairie plants for the Restoring 71 site. With the support of the South Saskatchewan River Watershed Stewards, each student will also have a shrub to plant. The group is learning about soil health from a PhD student in soil science. 

5. If you could have 3 wishes for improving your community, what would they be? 
1. One more board member who also wants to be the treasurer 
2. Enough money to hire an executive director to keep us and all the projects organized 
3. A membership in all related organizations so that we can support good work being done around the province and country

6. Are there volunteer opportunities with your organization? If so, please describe them and indicate how people can contact you. 
Yes! Here is a list. We can offer guidance on all of these as well. Just email oneschoolonefarm@gmail.com 
- Grow native trees, shrubs, flowers, or grasses for donating to the projects 
- Grow fruit-bearing trees and shrubs for donating 
- Create lesson plans for teachers around active engagement in ecological restoration, ecological literacy, nutrient cycling, soil health, biodiversity etc. 
- Help with our online presence (we are severely lacking in this area) 
- Become a board member (we need one with mad skills in fundraising, setting up charities, etc.) 
- And, always, fundraising! 


See Also 

We’re planning to highlight the work of volunteer organizations in our communities on a regular basis over the next year. Do email us if you would like your organization to be profiled on EcoFriendly Sask

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

EcoSask News, April 27, 2021

chipmunk

This Week’s Highlights 
Ducks Unlimited Canada is hosting a webinar at 12 pm, Apr. 29, on natural climate solutions as part of its Wetland Knowledge Exchange. 

The recent federal budget “includes $200 million in new funding for increasing the adoption of climate-friendly practices like cover cropping, nitrogen management and rotational grazing. It also allocates $10 million over two years to facilitate a transition to clean energy from diesel-fueled farm equipment and earmarks another $60 million for the preservation of existing wetlands and trees on farmlands.” 

Upcoming Events 
Meewasin Valley Authority is inviting groups to participate in their clean-up campaign from April 22 to June 14. 

Regina’s Get Outside Kids’ Club has moved online for a few weeks. Join them for a webinar and self-guided scavenger hunt at 10 am, Apr. 28. 

Global Water Futures is launching a Virtual Water Gallery, a space for artists, water experts, knowledge keepers, and the public to co-explore water challenges from 10:30-11:30 am, April 29. Register to attend

Explore spring migration on the mid-continental and Atlantic flyways with the Nature Conservancy of Canada at 11:30 am, Apr. 29.

Participate in a City Nature Challenge by recording photos or sounds of plants and animals you see around Regina from Apr. 30 to May 3. 

Jane’s Walk Saskatoon is organizing virtual and/or self-directed walking tours for May 1. 

GreenPAC is hosting a full-day event exploring environmental leadership in Canada’s political landscape on May 1. 

City of Saskatoon residents can dispose of hazardous waste from 9 am to 3:30 pm on May 2. 

The University of Regina’s Centre for Continuing Education is offering a 4-week course on spring/summer stargazing from 7-9 pm, Wednesdays, from May 5 to 26. 

There will be a presentation on SaskPower’s net zero emissions plan at the May 5 virtual breakfast meeting of the Saskatchewan Energy Management Task Force. 

SaskOutdoors is offering weekly online workshops to train participants to become certified Growing Up WILD and Getting Little Feet WET Education facilitators from 7-9 pm, May 6, 13, and 20. 

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society is helping building operators to lower their utility bills and make their buildings more comfortable. Join them online from 9 am-noon, May 7 or 28, for a session on heating, ventilation, and cooling

Contribute your bird observations to eBird and Saskatchewan Breeding Birding Atlas in May 7, 14, and 15 indoor/outdoor workshops with Stan Shadick. 

There will be an orienteering fun day on May 8 on the River Ridge Trails near Langham.
 
chipmunk

Local News 
Prevent Irritable Sewer Syndrome, a free new educational program from Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin explores ways families can keep their sewer and river systems healthy. 

“In Western Canada, the glaciers in British Columbia and Alberta and the Yukon are disappearing. They could be gone in fifty years. The prairies are warming at three times the global rate. That’s a region that will experience much more variability from flooding and drought due to the change in the snowpack, because the water in the Saskatchewan River Basin comes from the Canadian Rockies. As that snowpack disappears, the availability of all that water will change.”

From Information to Action 
The Gitanyow of northwestern BC have released a fully Indigenous-led sustainability assessment of proposed projects on their land based on Indigenous laws and traditions, science, and reconciliation with Crown governments.  

“Gardening isn’t just about plants. It’s about the entire ecosystem those plants can support.” How and why to welcome insects into your yard

For $5 a month, Leadville, Colorado’s Get Outdoor Gear Library offers “mountain bikes, hiking boots, snow shoes, hiking poles, camp stoves, ski boots. . . . If you need it for camping or hiking or adventuring, they likely have it.” 

Books 
Nature Saskatchewan has published Backyard Bird Feeding: A Saskatchewan Guide by Trevor Herriot and Myrna Pearman. 

Bees, pesticides, and environmental protests are front and centre in William Deverell’s latest novel, Stung

Atlantic Book Rescue accepts lightly used books and finds a new home for them – either for sale online or by donating to seniors’ homes, daycares, teachers, or environmentally friendly recyclers. 

EcoFriendly Sask supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives through an online publication, an events calendar, small grants, and the Nature Companion website/app. You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner). 


Did you know? Least Chipmunk are good climbers and may build nests high above the ground or climb up a tree in cooler weather to warm themselves in the sun. (Nature Companion)