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Nature Guelph Receives 2017 Award From GRCA

Web posted on November 13, 2017

Nature lovers of all ages gather to learn about flora and fauna in all its miraculous forms thanks to Nature Guelph, an organization that received a 2017 Watershed Award from the Grand River Conservation Authority.

Nature Guelph started back in 1966. Membership is now closing in on 200, the highest it has ever been. The club offers many programs that appeal to a wide variety of interests related to nature. It officially underwent a name change in 2013, when it was renamed from the Guelph Field Naturalists.

"Nature Guelph has done fantastic work over the years and I'm happy to be part of it," said the new president, Brett Forsyth, a nature photographer who moved to Guelph from the west coast three years ago.

The auditorium at the University of Guelph Arboretum fills with people when experts lined up by Nature Guelph talk about topics such as bats, fossils and climate change at monthly meetings. These meetings, like other events, are open to everyone in Guelph, not just club members.

Regular outings, both local and further afield, are also offered. Nature Guelph assists with the Christmas Bird Count, Feeder Watch and other citizen science initiatives, such as plant and wildlife inventories. There is also a wildflower group.

Working together with the Guelph Lake Nature Centre, it operates programs for younger people, including Young Naturalist (six- to 10-year-olds) and Naturalist-in-Training (11- to 16-year-olds). These programs take place on Saturdays and include a camping trip each May.

Volunteers from the organization also provide a program geared to families who may not have spent a lot of time in nature. Called Nature in the City, this program takes place at the Guelph Public Library and outdoor locations. It has been gaining in popularity every year.

"The more of the Guelph community we can get into understanding and protection nature, the better," Forsyth explained.

The club has also raised funds for the University of Guelph Arboretum to install bird-friendly window treatments.

Over the years, Nature Guelph has built relationships with many community organizations. It also comments on developments in Guelph that may impact nature and has assisted with the City of Guelph's natural heritage strategy.

"We're going through an internal process to clarify the vision for the club for the next 50 years to engage the public in nature through education and protection. Now it's mostly through education," Forsyth said. "I'd love to see the club getting into engaging more youth."

They already have more university students joining and could also work more closely with high school students, he said.