Anne Bell is Ontario Nature’s new senior director of conservation and education. Anne has acted as an environmental researcher, educator and consultant for many government and nongovernmental organizations, including Evergreen, Ontario Parks, Natural Resources Canada, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, the Sierra Club and Environmental Defence. In 2002 and 2003, she served as interim executive director with CPAWS Wildlands League. Anne’s academic background is in biological conservation and her PhD in environmental studies from York University focused on ecological restoration and environmental education. Anne is an avid naturalist, an enthusiastic birder and a most welcome addition to the organization.
This fall, Ontario Nature welcomed a class of about 40 students and four faculty members from Sir Sandford Fleming College in Lindsay to our Altberg Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Reserve. The enthusiastic students helped survey forest monitoring plots in the nature reserve, while learning ecological monitoring techniques that they will be able to apply in their future careers. A professor fro the college led a walk along the nature reserve trails, during which students were taught how to identify the many ferns present on the property.
Participants gave this trip high marks and are interested in making the outing an annual event. The college might use the nature reserve for other course-related excursions. Activities such as this one illustrate the importance of our nature reserves as venues for both education and ecological research. Contact Ontario Nature if you are interested in conducting educational activities on one of our properties.
Our clubs: The Guelph Field Naturalists
In 1968, the Guelph Field Naturalists (GFN) – then a small but dogged group of keen naturalists – joined Ontario Nature. Forty productive years later, GFN has more than 100 members, nearly 30 of whom are enrolled in GFN’s Young Naturalists Program, a naturalist group for children between the ages of six and 12. The program has been so successful that the club recently received funding from the Parks and People Program, an initiative of Parks Canada and Nature Canada, and subsequently has expanded its activities for youth with its Naturalists in Training Program for teenagers between the ages of 13 and 16.
GFN also hosts guest speaker nights, enormously popular events that are open to the public. This April, GFN’s guest speaker is Bridget Stutchbury, author of Silence of the Songbirds, a revelatory exploration of climate change and the worldwide decline in songbird populations. Other speakers have included Lyle Friesen of the Canadian Wildlife Service, who discussed the effects of wind turbines on birds and bats, and Dr. Ernesto Guzman, associate professor of environmental biology at the University of Guelph, who gave a talk on the precipitous decline of honeybees worldwide.
And for especially keen birders, GFN recently introduced the GFN Birder and Dragonfly Watchers Sightings Explorer software, an innovative program that features electronic location mapping capability, allowing birders to map the exact location of their sightings and then share their data using the online database. Nature photographer and software creator Jon Brierley generously donated the program to GFN. The software can be purchased through a donation of $40 (or more) to GFN, for which you will receive a charitable receipt.
GFN is proud of its conservation record and continues to be a tenacious defender of natural spaces. Through letter-writing campaigns and participation in public forums, GFN contributed to the fight to save Sanctuary Woods, near Guelph, from a housing development and became involved in the recent battle over Nestlé Waters Canada’s water-taking privileges from the Aberfoyle subwatershed. As development and urban sprawl continue to threaten Guelph’s natural areas, GFN will expand its efforts in kind.