Creatures of Habitat 2013

Dear PSS Volunteers,

Planning for the 5th annual Creatures of Habitat (“CoH”) events is underway! If you have volunteered with this program in the past, we welcome you to take part again!…if you haven’t, I invite you to read through the following information, and please contact me if you’d like to know more.

We’ve had great feedback from our volunteers (many who have volunteered for four years in a row) about this program. If you like working outside doing ecological restoration activities, and enjoy working with youth, this is a great opportunity to do both.

This post contains a few items:
1) General CoH 2013 information
2) Volunteering
3) Training Sessions
4) Criminal Record Check (CRC) information – ** CRCs are free for volunteers, and are relatively painless and require little inconvenience on your part. (If you completed one last year, you are all set for this year.)**
5) So you’d like to volunteer? ….Contact us by email or at 250-363-6480

1) General CoH 2013 Info

To summarize, “Creatures of Habitat” is an environmental education program that we deliver annually to Gr. 6 students to coincide with Earth Day. Earth Day is on Monday April 22nd this year, but we will visit the three middle schools (Bayside, Royal Oak and Glanford [Glanford is new for us this year]) over two weeks, on the 18th, 19th and 26th. We deliver this program, free-of-charge, to the schools (we would love to consider additional schools but thus far have been limited by funding.) We’ll visit each of these schools for a full day and engage the entire Gr. 6 class in both indoor and outdoor educational activities. I’ve included the day’s activities below for your information, though we require the majority of our volunteers for the outdoor activities.

This year’s format will remain essentially the same as last year’s. The students take part in:
Indoor Activities
– EnviroJeopardy (a fun take on ‘Jeopardy’ that focuses on, you guessed it, the environment)
– Workshops (with providers like Lifecycles, Compost Ed Centre, CRD Parks, etc.) Outdoor Activities
– Hands-on restoration activities on or near the school property (this has included invasive species removal, mulching, planting and weeding, fry releases at a nearby creek, garbage pick-up)

The events will take place on the following dates in April:

Royal Oak MS – Thursday 18th (students will remain on the school grounds for the outdoor activities; they will be working mostly on the invasive Himalayan blackberry bushes that line the property) Glanford MS – Friday 19th (students will walk to Baxter Park for the outdoor activities; Baxter Park is less than a 10 minute walk from the school) Bayside MS – Friday 26th (students will walk to Gowlland Tod Prov. Park for the outdoor activities; it is about ~20-25 minute walk from the school)

Here is a Google Map I created with the school locations.

2) Volunteering

Volunteers are absolutely VITAL to this program. Volunteers provide instruction and supervision of the students during the outdoor activities, so we really need a large number in order to run the program. Depending on the number of students at each school, we require anywhere from 15-25 volunteers/day. If you are interested in volunteering, or would like more information, Please contact us by email, or call 250-363-6480. You don’t need any special skills related to ecological restoration; as we will hold training sessions for each of the school locations, and have informational booklets for you. You are welcome to volunteer for more than one day; and if you can be there for only a morning or afternoon shift, we can be flexible.

Volunteer Activity Description:
We are looking for enthusiastic and responsible volunteers to work with and supervise youth. Depending on the school (each school has slightly different bell schedules), volunteer shifts are from ~8:30am-2:45pm. No restoration experience necessary…we will teach you everything you need to know. The outdoor activities will consist of supervision of a small group of Gr. 6 students doing invasive plant species removal, garbage pick-up, weeding, tree mulching, and similar tasks. Volunteers will supervise groups of 5-8 students. Training will be provided at the sessions below.

3) Training Sessions

We will hold three separate volunteer training sessions (one for each school/field site) in April. All training is from 5:30-6:30pm.
Royal Oak MS – Monday 8th (meet in the school parking lot at 5:25pm) Glanford MS – Tuesday 9th (meet in the school parking lot at 5:25pm) Bayside MS – Wednesday 10th (we will probably meet at the entrance to Gowlland Tod Provincial Park along Wallace Drive…more specific details to come on this training session)

4) Criminal Record Check information

School District #63 policy (#5540) requires that volunteers working directly within the schools get Criminal Record Checks (CRCs). CRCs are free for volunteers (they are usually $50 if you need them for employment of other purposes). If you don’t get a CRC then there may be an opportunity to volunteer anyway as you may be paired with a teacher or with another volunteer that has a CRC…if you get this CRC it is good for 2 years and will be not CoH specific.

The CRC process is fairly straightforward:

– Inform me that you would like to volunteer, and I will give you a letter (with your name on it, signed by us) that you must take to the police station. This letter allows them to waive the $50 fee.
– Go to the police station in your municipality with government-issued photo ID (some stations require a second piece of ID and proof that you actually live in that municipality). Fill out the CRC form. The forms can take 1.5-3 weeks to be processed. They will not call you when your CRC has been completed, so you will need to call the station after 2-3 weeks to see if it is ready.
– When your CRC is ready, go back to the station (you will need to show ID again to pick it up) to pick up your completed form.
– Return the completed form to me for our files. I will deliver photocopies to the School District office for their files.

5) So you’d like to Volunteer?…Contact us!

If you’d like to volunteer (or would like more information), please contact us. Please let me know which day(s) you would like to help out with.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I hope to hear from you! More details to come…so watch this space.

Francesca, Stewardship Coordinator