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  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014 06:00 am

SUMMER CO-ORDINATOR – Meagan Dyck is this year’s co-ordinator for the BLESS Summer Nature Centre.
SUMMER CO-ORDINATOR – Meagan Dyck is this year’s co-ordinator for the BLESS Summer Nature Centre.
CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette

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Nature centre gears up

Want to play with bugs, birds and kids all day? If so, the new head of St. Albert’s summer nature centre wants to hear from you.

The Big Lake Environment Support Society announced last week that it had hired local resident Meagan Dyck as this year’s co-ordinator for the BLESS Summer Nature Centre.

The centre has provided free nature-related activities for local youths since around 1997.

Dyck, 23, has a degree in environmental and conservation science from the University of Alberta and is a lifelong St. Albert resident.

Dyck says this was actually the third year in a row that she’d applied for this position.

“This year, (BLESS) approached me and said for the past two years you’ve really wanted it, so you can have it this time.”

BLESS spokesperson Miles Constable says Dyck is a good candidate with lots of youth and enthusiasm. Her position is being paid for with casino fundraiser money.

Dyck says she’s still working on the centre’s plans for the summer – she just started the job Monday – but hopes to have a lot of fun teaching local kids about the environment.

“I have lots of new crafts planned,” she says, and lots of research on monarch butterflies she hopes to incorporate into the centre’s lessons.

New this year will be some late hours on Wednesdays. Dyck says she plans to have the centre open from 1:00 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays this summer (instead of from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as it is the rest of the week) to see if she can draw any evening visitors.

Dyck says she’s also looking for a few volunteers to help run the centre.

“I’m looking for someone who has a pretty good understanding of nature,” she says, as well as the ability to teach crafts and games. Candidates should be of high-school or university age, and be available for a few hours a week.

Anyone wishing to volunteer at the centre should contact Dyck before next Wednesday.

The centre will be open weekdays from July 2 to Aug. 29. The centre will also have a booth at the city’s Canada Day celebrations July 1.

Call Dyck at 780-298-2006 for details.

Calling all planters

A local environmental group has put out a call for volunteers to help build the city’s first native tree nursery.

Volunteers with the River Edge Enhancement Project (REEP) are gathering this Friday to construct St. Albert’s new native plant nursery near 22 Meadowview Dr. just south of Grain Elevator Park.

The nursery is backed by a $9,500 from the city’s Environmental Initiatives Grant fund and a $2,500 grant from the Walmart-Evergreen program. When it’s finished, the facility should provide hardy native plants for use in local reforestation efforts.

The nursery is on the south end of the river lot that contains the city’s grain elevators, says Constable, a volunteer with REEP.

“The Arts and Heritage Foundation isn’t planning on using that property for quite a while,” he says, and has turned over part of it for use in this project.

REEP members have salvaged Saskatoon, aspen and willow plants from the site and will re-plant them in pots placed in bigger pots buried in the ground, Constable says. This pot-in-pot system should make it easier to extract the roots of the plants once they’re grown.

The group plans to plant about 50 to 70 plants initially and to add more each year, Constable says. An in-ground irrigation system is set to go in this summer.

It will be at least two to three years before these plants grow big enough to use in local naturalization projects, Constable says.

The REEP team is looking for about six people to help place the plants, Constable says. Volunteers should come equipped with good shoes, hats and work gloves, and be prepared to work for a few hours.

The planting starts at 10 a.m. Email Constable at info@bless.ab.ca for details.


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