Thursday 12 August 2021

Community Highlights: Nature Saskatchewan

1. How and when did you start Nature Saskatchewan?
Nature Saskatchewan began as the Saskatchewan Natural History Society in 1949. In the beginning it was simply a society of amateur naturalists sharing their observations and experiences in nature. The Blue Jay was the beginning of the society and is still distributed to members on a quarterly basis. Nature Saskatchewan first sought to promote the conservation of our natural resources by appealing to its members to practise conservation and by lobbying governments and their agencies on behalf of our natural resources of every nature and kind. 

Much later, in the 1980s, the Society took a further step. It began to support research studies into the status of endangered or threatened species such as the swift fox, prairie rattlesnake, burrowing owl, piping plover, etc. Over the years, Nature Saskatchewan has grown to employ several full and part-time employees and is well respected as a voice for nature in Saskatchewan. 

2. What are Nature Saskatchewan's principal activities and why do you believe they’re important? 
Through several programs, Nature Saskatchewan works towards its mission of “We engage and inspire people to appreciate, learn about and conserve Saskatchewan's natural environment.” With over 600 members and 8 full-time staff as well as several seasonal staff, Nature Saskatchewan offers programs and services that provide knowledge and experiences for those who have a love for nature. 

One of the largest programs is Stewards of Saskatchewan (SOS). SOS is a suite of five voluntary stewardship programs that engage rural landowners and land managers in conserving habitat in southern Saskatchewan to benefit species at risk, ecosystem health, and people. The goals of the programs are to conserve habitat, raise awareness and provide support to agricultural producers, enhance prairie habitat for species at risk, and search for and monitor target species at risk populations. While the focus is on the targeted species, the programs ultimately benefit many other prairie species and their habitats. 

Nature Saskatchewan also manages the Last Mountain Bird Observatory (LMBO). LMBO is the only migration monitoring station in the province and, in 1992, joined the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network (CMMN). 

Each program has a specific focus, whether it be education, research, or engagement with nature. No matter the pathway, the vision of Humanity in Harmony with Nature is always at the forefront. Each program is important to helping us move towards this vision. 

3. What were your successes (big or small) in 2020? 
Of course, 2020 was a challenging year. The Covid-19 pandemic forced us to consider how to deliver the same message while still adhering to public health orders. Most of our programming was moved online or adapted in some way. People needed nature in 2020 more than ever and the engagement we had with the public proved that. We held events such as Nature Trivia nights and Migratory Bird celebrations online and people joined us from all over Saskatchewan and even from neighbouring provinces. We were able to support people exploring nature in a safe way and that was certainly a success during a trying year. 

4. What would you like to achieve in 2021? 
 2021 will be focused on balance. Of course the return to in-person events and interactions is exciting; however, the connections we have made online with people further away have been valuable. Each program has some exciting work being done and we look forward to continuing to work towards conservation goals in Saskatchewan. 

5. If you could have 1 wish for improving your community (in relation to this program), what would it be? 
One main wish is for everyone to feel connected to nature in some way and to understand their impact on the natural environment. This doesn’t need to be extreme but simply appreciating a bird that lands near you or looking closer at nature while out for a walk is important. The saying, “You won’t save what you don’t love,” holds very true. We hope that people start seeing the true wonder of nature and start learning about it. Then perhaps they will do what they can to help conserve it. 

6. Are there volunteer opportunities with your program? If so, please describe them and indicate how people can contact you. 
We do offer volunteer opportunities and depending on experience and interest we can find a fit for most people. We are always looking for event volunteers and for people wanting to help with office tasks such as creating social media content. We are currently looking for volunteers with video editing experience. If you are interested in volunteering with Nature Saskatchewan, please fill out the volunteer application form

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 subscribing by email (top right corner).