We asked the Youth Council to share their experience of the trip and what they took away from the action-packed day.
Guardians of the Marsh: Discoveries and Lessons
By Luke Nguyen, a dedicated member of the Ontario Nature Youth Council who loves animals and is passionate about helping the environment in creative ways.
The Ontario Nature Youth Council’s recent trip to Holland Marsh was chock-full of learning experiences.
One experience that particularly stood out was an unforgettable encounter with a majestic barred owl perched in her tree. She vigilantly guarded her owlet, a poignant reminder that we, too, should carefully protect and preserve the earth, as our collective future depends on it.
We also enjoyed doing a hands-on biodiversity assessment, with a special focus on some of the smaller inhabitants of the Holland Marsh – insects and plant species. By observing and identifying various species, we gained a deeper appreciation for the complex interdependence among all living things.
We also had an opportunity to learn from Indigenous knowledge holders about Anishinaabe values. Their inherent respect for all life forms, viewing the world not as a resource to exploit, but as a community to engage with, was a refreshing perspective. This experience instilled in me a respect for their wisdom, making me eager to learn more about Indigenous knowledge and their application in today’s conservation efforts.
My Experience as Part of the Ontario Nature Community
By Campbell Lewis, a Youth Council member from the Niagara Region who is passionate about hiking, camping, and science.
Since I was meeting a group of people that I had only ever seen virtually for the first time on this trip, I did not know what to expect. I went in wanting to know more about wetlands, and I got to learn about them and a lot more. What stood out to me the most was that there were so many people, both paid staff and volunteers, that were willing to come out to support youth engaging in conservation.
From the Ontario Nature team and the LSRCA staff who spoke about the ecological importance of wetlands, to the Indigenous women from Alderville and Chippewas of Rama First Nations communities who taught the group about the cultural significance of wetlands, there was a very positive atmosphere.
With the Youth Council constantly spotting birds and participating in discussions, it was nice to be part of a group who is passionate about nature and conservation. I hope to be able to take part in more Ontario Nature events because I cannot wait to get back to a place where interest and enthusiasm for the environment is reciprocated.
A Closer Look at Wetlands
By Julianne Ho, a Youth Council member from Toronto who enjoys gardening, birdwatching, geocaching and hiking.
While there is often more attention brought to the larger animals that inhabit wetlands, other aspects of these ecosystems tend to go underappreciated. However, after visiting the Holland Marsh and the Scanlon Creek Conservation Area with other Youth Council members, even the smallest organisms in the water caught my eye. Benthic organisms, which we observed in ice cube trays, are biotic indicators that help us determine the state of the water passing through wetlands, which were expectedly low in oxygen due to a lack of aeration in still water.
I was especially fascinated when we learned about the role wetlands play in filtering waterways and carbon sequestration by members of the LSRCA, who demonstrated how these processes are measured by storing plant litter in window screens to measure rates of decomposition and how polyvinyl chloride pipes are used for capturing methane. Since the trip, I have had a much deeper respect for the relationships in the wetland ecosystem and now appreciate how we can interact with them in a beneficial and respectful manner.
This project was undertaken with financial support from Transport Canada’s Commemoration Fund for the Victims of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Tragedy, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and the Chawkers Foundation.
By Maya Davidson and Ontario Nature Youth Council Members
Starting at Ontario Nature as a Communications intern for ON Magazine, Maya is a lifelong naturalist and birder. She is now the Education Coordinator and is responsible for organizing and supporting the Nature Guardians Youth Programs. Maya holds a B.A. in Media, Information and Technoculture from Western University and is an environmental writer, photographer, and educator who is driven by her passion for biodiversity conservation. You can find her skiing, cycling, planning her next backcountry canoe trip, or posting on her nature blog.