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General News · 11th December 2016
Chris Dragseth
The AGM for the Children’s Forest/ Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Society recently took place. This was an opportunity to review our past year’s activities and accomplishments. Our Board members are: Chris Dragseth – Chair, Christine Robinson – Secretary, Andrew Smyth – Treasurer, Ashe Biela – Youth Director, Andy Ellingsen, Sabina Leader-Mense, Adam McKenty, and Connie Brill. We added a new member to the Board at our AGM. We welcomed Norlene Lillico to the Board and look forward to her bringing new ideas and energy to our efforts.

Our youth programming continues to expand each year, and we currently have 20+ active youth with a broad age spectrum, which provides many leadership opportunities to the older youth. We offered programming that supported field activities. For example, the 2016 “Wanna Be A Naturalist” workshop provided valuable skills and information that helped with our BioBlitz that took place in April.

The BIOblitz was attended by 35 youth of all ages from across the Cortes community and parents and community members, for a total of 70 participants in the workshops and evening camp-out at Carrington Bay. Eight presenters offered workshops in the afternoon, throughout the night, spilling over into the early morning dawn chorus and interpretative walk to Carrington bluffs. The BIOblitz was particularly successful in terms of expanding community involvement, and specifically, reaching a broader segment of Cortes youth.

The theatre activities continue to play a prominent role with our youth. The presentation of Lorax at this year’s Seafest helped to inform the public. A ten-day Theatre Camp in July supported presentations of the “Shades of Green” at the Gorge Marina and Hollyhock.

Fund raising during this past year has been modest. Our Youth Council helped to organize a fund raising dinner in April at the Gorge Hall. This was a great learning event of leadership and organization for the youth. Sixteen youth participated with 40 guests enjoying a 3-course dinner. The youth also organized and operated a concession at the July book launch of ‘Blue Lagoon’ by local children’s author, Monica Nawrocki.

As far as the larger fund raising campaign, the Board has focused on building relationships with potential donors, in preparation of a more formal fund raising campaign, which we expect to initiate in 2017. To this end, representatives of the Board had a very positive meeting with Island Timberlands in June to continue discussions around the purchase of the Children’s Forest. The Board anticipates that we will be submitting an offer to Island Timberlands in the New Year.

In the coming year, our youth programming will be expanded. We expect January to be a busy month with preparation for a new theatre piece to begin. This work may lead to a possible school tour in the spring of 2017 to Quadra/Campbell River. January will also see a new mentoring program, which will pair Cortes naturalists, & scientists with youth, offering one-on-one, focused learning opportunities.

The Board is exploring the potential for a school outreach program in the Cowichan Valley that will offer an exchange opportunity between the Cowichan students & Cortes youth.

The monthly Nature Study Forest Walks will continue, with seasonal focuses and documentation being recorded in the forest field log and journal. Educational activities on our 2016 forest walks included: participating in the annual Christmas Bird count, mapping & measuring older trees, and monitoring spawning chum in James Creek. And, the popular BioBlitz will occur again in late April/early May 2017.

Finally, we have a video, produced by Immanuel McKenty that highlights the “Children Forest Rap”. You can view this at the following link:

We are excited to go into 2017 with more progress on field programs, increasing youth capacity, finalizing a purchase price for the Children’s Forest and ramping up our fund raising campaign.

All the best to your and yours during the holiday season.

The Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Board

You can usually see & hear me in the forest,
I send out warnings to animals,
I am a chatterbox!! What am I?

moss shining brightly
mossy old man's beard on tree
magic mossy logs