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HELP leaders posing at the Riverwood signage

HELP leaders strike a pose at the front of the Riverwood Conservancy

Nature is, without a doubt, magnificent. It is the roots of our existence. In it we can find the diverse range of beautiful plants and animals. We tap much of our resources from nature; our food, our water, our clothes and literally everything is attributed to nature, our environment. However, you would think we would take extra care of our environment; we unfortunately do not do a sufficient job at this. Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution with the advancements in agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and technology, we have corrupted and degraded our environment. So, when does all the madness stop? The answer is simple; it starts in our own communities.

On March 31, 2011, the H.E.L.P. (Humanitarian Experiential Leadership Program) class (which I am obviously a part of) were accompanied by Mr. James Scott Neil, our advisor, to the Riverwood Conservancy in Mississauga (it is located on 4300 Riverwood Park Lane).

We were there for the purpose of escaping the hustle and bustle of the city; getaway from the pollution, the noise, the lights, the technology. We were there to pay homage to our only planet in all of its natural glory.Through bird watching and counting and bioswale examination, we were able to achieve those intents and more.

Educator Candra Schanck showing HELP the birds existing in Riverwood

Candra Schank, Riverwood’s resident researcher and educator, together with two volunteers showed us around the park, the animals and plants that take habitat there. She led us to bird watching, identifying, feeding and counting and water quality testing in bioswales, ponds, storm drain and river. With those, she also shared with us the city’s initiative on water research and quality improvement.

Besides being able to enjoy and learn about the magnificence of nature, we contributed to the national bird count. By examining the population of different bird species at a given time or season of year, it potentially uncovers the effects of climate change on these birds (ie. some birds migrate earlier or later because birds are heavily affected by climate and the most subtle change can either delay or advance migrations). We begin to understand better that the little changes in our climate that we may deem irrelevant can have huge implications on wildlife (birds for this instance). The effects on birds can ultimately affect us humans. “What happens to the successful pollination of our plants (primary source of food) when the birds are erratically migrating in and out of the country”? Furthermore, We examined the effectiveness of the bioswales in the Conservancy. The bioswale can be means of reusing and recycling waste water. It filters out harmful substances to the environment. More importantly, we learned that there are alternatives and ways in remedying our negative impact on water and the environment itself.

The activities we did at Riverwood spark our drive to educate the people that we need to stop degrading and destroying our environment; we need to sustain it for future generations, so they too can bask in its splendour.

Tom Mills determining the pH level of the water at the Credit River.

Being there, seeing the people that work there enjoy their jobs and having the kick from educating people, it makes me really want to pursue my dreams of doing my part to protect our environment and sustain it for the future. I already do my best in minimizing my ecological footprint and impart my knowledge and wisdom to other people but experiencing nature with like-minded people makes me feel more comfortable that there is a green future awaiting us. The trip down to Riverwood was a reinforcement of what we have already learned in the classroom (but we did learn some new sweet stuff to go with that, like the implications of bird migration patterns on climate change or bioswales can potentially aid our drying clean fresh water supply); but it was also a catalyst for things a-brewing. We have numerous eco-projects coming up and experiencing nature and the environment on a face-to-face interaction and learning our indirect influences on birds and water; it gives us a sense of concrete responsibility. “Oh! This is why we are doing this and that”, “We got to act now”, “Nature is really, really beautiful, it would be a shame for it to get overrun”. These are some of things that are definitely running through our heads right now.

About Riverwood Conservancy:

Sofia Becerra feeding a Chickadee

It was founded in 1985 as the Mississauga Garden Council. However, the name was changed in 2009 to Riverwood Conservancy to better reflect its mission of environmental education and stewardship.

The Riverwood Conservancy is a volunteer/member based charitable organization. As mentioned, it focuses on environmental education and stewardship but specifically in areas such as gardening, horticulture, and wildlife and plant preservation.

Its park is open to the public of Mississauga and surrounding areas. Riverwood offers several programs in relation to its mission; some examples are education programs for all ages of people, gardening programs, bird watching, deer tracking and general stewardship.

Check out the rest of the pictures of us at the Riverwood Conservancy.

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Written by Elvin Madamba

April 3, 2011 at 10:39 PM

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