Friday, June 30, 2017

Celebrating Pollinators with the Ontario Nature Youth Council

Volunteers. Photo credit, Daynan Lepore
During Pollinator Week, we joined forces with the Ontario Nature Youth Council to celebrate pollinators and all the work they do for we insatiable humans.
Donate A Native Plant: Pollinator Appreciation Day was an opportunity for humans to give back to these mighty little critters.

Community members were invited to bring a native species plant from their gardens, or to simply join us in planting habitat at the Land’s Inlet site in the North End of the city.

The Land's Inlet Nature site is an initiative of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club that for the last few years has been naturalizing this inner city public space and creating a paradise of trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and other native species plants to attract and provide food and shelter for pollinators, as well as a beautiful green space for local residents.

Over 250 native plants, most of which were supplied by the Youth Council were put into the ground that evening. The youth will be helping to maintain the site in years to come. They plan to deepen their involvement concerning pollinator protection, building on the tremendous work they have previously done on the issue--work such as their postcard campaign to the Premier back in 2014, requesting a ban on neonicotinoid use, that has resulted in very impactful outcomes.
The group has an initiative called Special Spaces. For the last five years, to celebrate Earth Month, Ontario Nature’s Youth Council has organized conservation projects that are held simultaneously across the province. The events highlight the importance of taking care of nature in our own neighbourhood.
 Conservation efforts in these local  Special Spaces include tree plantings, litter removal, trail maintenance and shoreline clean-ups. Around thirty Special Spaces events across Southern Ontario. Our plant-in at Land’s Inlet is considered one such event.

Daynan Lepore, coordinator for the group spoke with us about the Youth Council’s other projects.

With the Youth Council members, (consisting of about 70 teenagers, most of them heads of their high school eco-teams), "We all brainstorm around what we are interested," says Lepore,a youth himself. Over the course of two main meetings, usually in Toronto and at a YMCA camp, "we come up with a blueprint of involvement."

With the issue of bee decline, conserving bees was made a big theme on social media: "We could play off that with slogans, use internet memes and run a great campaigns that resonated with kids," Lepore continues. With planting, "When the kids go to plant, they will be telling their friends what they did and so on, influencing their peers."

Future Ontario Nature projects. 

This September, at the yearly youth retreat, the group will be adding a new campaign to their list--climate change. "We are going to do write to our members of parliament that's our big focus," Lepore says. They will also be running more Special Spaces events, raise awareness  around pipelines, and Ontario Greenbelt expansion.


We are looking forward to continue to working with this amazing group!

Thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Hamilton Community Foundation for their continued funding support over the last few years.