h o l i d a y g i f t i d e a s : c h e c k o u t s i x pa g e s o f g r e at m e r c h a n d i s e i n s i d e !
volume 29 number 4, 2008
the impacts of
on 70 years
IN THE school’s out!
BEGINNING duc connects kids
is a ducks fan
bill leitch, who served as duc chief biologist
for parts of three decades, reflects on his
many years of service to the organization,
now celebrating its 70th year of operation.
by j a k E m ac D o n a l D
WETlaNds arE oNE of THE mosT crITIcal parTs of THE ENvIroNmENT.
WITH aN aNNual BudGET of $84 mIllIoN, acTIvE parTNErsHIps WITH
ovEr 18,000 laNdoWNErs, 4.6 mIllIoN acrEs sEcurEd aNd 33 mIl-
lIoN acrEs of HaBITaT posITIvEly INfluENcEd THrouGH polIcy aNd
oTHEr coNsErvaTIoN mEasurEs, ducks uNlImITEd caNada (duc) Is
THE lEadING WETlaNds coNsErvaTIoN orGaNIzaTIoN IN caNada.
all of WHIcH Is prETTy rEmarkaBlE, WHEN
you coNsIdEr duc Has BEEN IN BusINEss
for oNly sEvEN dEcadEs, aNd THaT ITs fIrsT
s o, Ducks Unlimited it was.
The American founders of Ducks Unlimited
theorized since most of North America’s water-
fowl species breed in Canada, the new organization
offIcE IN WINNIpEG Was locaTEd IN THE sorT would need a Canadian presence. They reached out
to a prominent Canadian of their acquaintance, an
of aGEd doWNToWN offIcE BuIldING WHErE affluent Winnipegger named James A. Richardson,
sam spadE mIGHT HavE HuNG up HIs sHINGlE. and he called a well-known Winnipeg lawyer named
Edward Pitblado, who made a few calls of his own,
and in the spring of 1937, the Canadian Ducks Unlim-
hat little office owed its existence to ited set up its “headquarters” in that little one-room
a spirited conversation that took place on a rental space in downtown Winnipeg.
weekend in 1936, when a group of wealthy One of the early employees to work out of that
American sportsmen gathered at a fly-fishing office was William G. Leitch, who had developed an
lodge on the Beaverkill River in New York. enthusiasm for wetlands and waterfowl during boy-
Over drinks and dinner, the businessmen bemoaned hood hunts with his father on Lake Manitoba. Leitch,
the steady decline of waterfowl across North America, who is now a spry and clear-eyed 94-year-old, says
and proposed their own solution – a continent-wide those boyhood hunts made a big impression on him.
organization that would produce ducks in the same “I started hunting with my dad when I was eight
methodical, organized way that the agriculture indus- years old,” he says. “The laws were more relaxed then
try produces corn. “Let’s call it Ducks Limited,” sug- and you could pretty much start hunting whenever
gested one of the sportsmen. In response, the owner your dad thought you were strong enough and resp-
of the lodge, an imperious millionaire named Joseph onsible enough to handle a shotgun. I was 12 years
Knapp, shot back, “Damn it, we don’t want limited old when I was first allowed to shoot. My dad was
ducks!” paddling the canoe while I sat up in the bow with the
conservator | 29-4 2008 17
gun. A mallard flushed from the bulrushes and I don’t
think it rose up more than a few feet before I knocked
it down.Your reflexes are fast when you’re young, and
that was a proud moment for a young boy.”
a t the time, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC)
had completed two large wetlands projects. The
first, Big Grass Marsh, was a traditional wetland
near Langruth, Man. The second, Waterhen Marsh, that
Leitch had planned to become a geologist but his was now under Leitch’s watch, was completed in 1938.
love of waterfowl won out and he took biology at the Both projects were dried-up wetlands that had been
University of Manitoba. In 1938, he heard about this drained for agriculture in the 1920s. At Waterhen Marsh,
new organization called “Ducks Unlimited” and he persistent problems with peat fires and dense smoke
approached them for work. There were less than a had persuaded local landowners and the Saskatchewan
dozen employees working at the Winnipeg office and government that the drainage project had been a bad
they all tended to be colourful characters. Bert Cart- idea.
wright, the chief naturalist, was a professorial-looking “We plugged the drainage canal and used horse-
bird lover who despite his bookish appearance was drawn scrapers to build a permanent dike over four
utterly fearless. During aerial surveys of waterfowl thousand feet long,” says Leitch, mentioning the pro-
populations Bert would sit up in the front seat of a ject was the last DUC project to feature horse-drawn
rattletrap bush plane as it dipped and roared at low machinery. “We also planted sago pondweed, bulrush
“WaTErfoWl populaTIoNs arE a loT HEalTHIEr NoW THaN
WHEN I fIrsT sTarTEd WorkING for ducks uNlImITEd
caNada. aNd THaT Is BEcausE EvEry orGaNIzaTIoN
as succEssful as duc Has ITs uNsuNG HEroEs.” – B I l l l E I TC h
altitude over the marsh, calmly making note of every and sweet clover on newly constructed islands. These
group of ducks no matter how tumultuous the ride. islands were used for nesting waterfowl and were an
During one survey the plane crashed on takeoff. Bert innovative concept in those days.”
climbed out of the wreck, helped to bandage up his DUC management was pleased with Leitch’s per-
fellow passengers. After all was well, he found another formance and Waterhen Marsh proved to be a big hit
plane and he was airborne with his clipboard a few with its web-footed beneficiaries. Surveys taken after
hours later. the marsh was completed showed impressive results.
Tom Main ran the office as general manager and In later years, one nesting island produced 170 gadwall
Bert Cartwright’s daughter Dorothy was the secretary. nests with a brood success rate of 82 per cent, and the
One day, when Tom Main was out of town, Dorothy number of Canada goose nests rose from two to 145.
brought in Tom’s daughter Irma to help with the secre-
tarial work. Tom didn’t want to be accused of nepotism ill Leitch says Tom Main was “fascinated
so he fired Irma as soon as he came back. Dorothy by the North,” and it was Main’s plan to install
promptly rehired her when Tom left, and this became a DUC crew on Alberta’s Gordon Lake to con-
a sort of recurring office joke. As Irma Main put it, trol the predator population, fight forest fires and to
“My dad finally forgot to fire me and I ended up introduce beavers. To this end, the Alberta govern-
working for Ducks Unlimited for eight years.” ment gave DUC a lease on several townships of lakes
Tom Main was looking for qualified workers who and bush 100 kilometers east of the small town of
loved waterfowl and were willing to work 12 hours a Fort McMurray. This would give Ducks Unlimited
day, seven days a week for the love of the ducks.Young a foothold in the North. Main believed that if the
Bill Leitch pestered Main so hard for a job that Main beavers became established, local Aboriginal people
hired him in May 1939 to supervise the just-completed would have a chance to earn some money and a por-
wetland restoration project at Waterhen Marsh, near tion of their trapping revenues would pay for ongoing
Kinistino, Sask., for $50 per month plus expenses. management of the area.
conservator | 29-4 2008 19
Not all the DUC staff agreed that it was an appro-
priate project for the new company. Bert Cartwright
lEITcH Was appoINTEd duc’s cHIEf in fact expressed his doubts in a letter to the boss:
“Considered solely by its duck-producing potentialities,
BIoloGIsT IN 1951, aNd sErvEd IN this great area is in no immediate need of attention,
nor can anything we do make any great difference in
THaT rolE uNTIl HIs rETIrEmENT the duck crop.”
In the winter of 1939-1940 Tom Main nevertheless
IN 1977. durING HIs TENurE dispatched Bill Leitch to Gordon Lake, where he set-
tled into a log cabin with Sigfus Arnfinson, a brawny
lEITcH BEcamE oNE of NorTH Icelander whose bush-savvy skills were a major sur-
vival asset in that forbidding wilderness. The Second
amErIca’s morE WEll-kNoWN World War was underway and head office didn’t have
WaTErfoWl BIoloGIsTs. much money for supplies. The two men were stuck
up there and did not have sled dogs and it was very
difficult for them to get around, let alone carry out
the ambitious projects envisioned by their employer.
On top of it, Bill Leitch had just been married.
“We had a two-way radio and a schedule to call in
every night to Fort McMurray,” says Leitch, “but it
seldom worked, and during the three months I was
in the bush I was only able to get in touch with my
new bride Inez by letter via the occasional supply
plane. Most of the time she and our employers at head
office had no idea if Fusi and I were alive or dead.”
With the war gathering momentum, Gordon Lake
and other DUC projects were soon put on hold and
Bill Leitch took a leave of absence in February 1941
to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. After the war,
i’m passionate about he took postgraduate studies in Wildlife Management
at the University of Toronto and returned to DUC in
saving wetlands 1946. From 1947 to 1952, Leitch worked on his mas-
ter’s thesis, studying the ability of ducklings to travel
“My study area was the Missouri Coteau,” he says.
“It’s a magnificent area of hills and pothole wetlands
in Saskatchewan. During dry years, some of the wet-
i give more so ducks can do more. By upgrading my sponsorship to a Platinum lands disappear and I studied the ability of broods to
level, I’m playing a bigger role in conserving Canada’s wetlands. For as little as $3 per walk overland from dried-up potholes to larger wet-
day, my contribution to Ducks goes a long way in sustaining waterfowl populations, lands. The results were positive and led to a major
protecting wildlife habitat and ensuring generations to come enjoy the beauty of program by DUC.”
Step up your commitment to Canada’s wetlands. Find out how you can upgrade your
donation to a major sponsorship level for only a few dollars per month.
call 1-866-384-duck (3825) or visit ducks.ca/majorsponsorship
l eitch was appointed DUC’s chief biologist
in 1951, and served in that role until his retire-
ment in 1977. During his tenure Leitch became
one of North America’s more well-known waterfowl
biologists, and as years passed, he watched Ducks
Unlimited Canada grow into a mature and influential
organization with thousands of projects across the
At the outset, DUC was established to be managed
by a board of directors legally independent of Ducks
Unlimited, Inc (DUI). Each organization has a separate
20 conservator | 29-4 2008
board, but individuals are allowed to serve on both. In
the beginning most of the strong individuals on the
board of DUC were Americans with ties to DUI.
Around the late 1960s, a group of Canadians , led by
DUC president Lorne Cameron, evolved the DUC
board into a strong national organization with good
family ties to DUI. This was supported by the joint
policy that said DUI would supply funds for develop-
ment and DUC would arrange land under free ease-
ment, and both organizations were equal participants.
Leitch says DUC owes its current success to the
DUI partnership, DUC’s financial independence and
science-based programming. To help fund the organi-
zation’s conservation programs, DUC organized and
carried out dinner banquets and other activities, based
on the successful template that DUI developed. These
monies helped fund innovative habitat programs such
as the Heritage marshes. The increase in DUC’s
science-based programs began with the Biological
Services Group which evolved into the Institute for
Wetland and Waterfowl Research.
“We now understand that you can’t prevent drought,”
Leitch says. “You have to devote your resources to
protecting those marginal wetlands that produce water-
fowl in a good year and go dry in a drought. These
are your ‘potential marshes’ and we’re doing a much
for the future
better job of protecting them. In my opinion there
were two critical people that made this happen, DUI’s
Dale Whitesell and DUC’s Stewart Morrison, both of
whom served as executive vice-presidents for their
respective organizations. We grew from an office that
built large ‘duck factories’ on the prairies into a Can-
adian company that uses science to understand and
protect the whole wetland ecosystem.”
B ill Leitch devoted most of his life to
wetlands conservation, and it seems to have
served him well. He hunted ducks until he
was 90 years old, and still goes out occasionally to
each year more than 7,400 ducks volunteers help save wetlands –
and have fun doing it. When you volunteer with Ducks, you join a family
of dedicated conservationists. Like you, these people are active in the outdoors
and concerned about wildlife and the depletion of natural environments. By
shoot clay pigeons with his 28-gauge. working together to organize a variety of fundraising events, you’ll make
“Waterfowl populations are a lot healthier now than
memories that will last a lifetime – and ensure the wetland habitats you
when I first started working for Ducks Unlimited Can-
ada,” he says. “And that is because every organization as
enjoy last even longer.
successful as DUC has its unsung heroes. In our case, it Become a volunteer today. It’s a great way to have fun, meet new friends
was construction crews who lived for months in con- and support Ducks’ wetland conservation work.
struction trailers fighting blackflies and mosquitoes
in the summer and freezing cold in the winter when call 1-866-384-duck (3825) or visit ducks.ca/volunteer
project sites were only accessible after freeze-up. And
our field men to who 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. were just num-
bers on their watches. And finally, many DUC retirees
worked just as hard for DUC after retirement as they
did during their employment. This is what makes DUC
so special, the dedication of the people.” A
a Special dUc report
The impacts of wetland loss
by B O B G R A N T
how would you react if a neighbour
came up to you and told you they were
about to drive to Gimli, Man., dump
544,000 bags of lawn fertilizer directly
into Lake Winnipeg, and do it every year?
What if that same neighbour told you that besides for the benefits that Manitoba’s wetlands provide to all
dumping lawn fertilizer, they also plan to add 169,000 Manitobans. In fact, this research has broad application
more cars to Manitoba – and all their accompanying across Canada and should be taken seriously by all
emissions – each year for the next 20 years? Or, what municipal, provincial and federal governments.
if that same neighbour told you they wanted to reduce Led by DUC researchers Shane Gabor, Pascal Badiou
Manitoba’s spring waterfowl populations in a specific and Lyle Boychuk, DUC has recently completed Phase
municipality by 28 per cent? I of a multi-phase research project that determined the
Likely, if you are aware of the plight of Lake Winnipeg, impacts of wetland loss and associated drainage activity
above: an increase in the objectives of our country’s climate change agendas in the Broughton’s Creek watershed of southwestern
algae blooms, and the and Ducks Unlimited Canada’s (DUC) waterfowl-based Manitoba. During the first phase of the research, DUC
amount of nutrients conservation mission, you’d be mortified by the envi- partnered with the University of Guelph and Tarleton
emptying into manitoba ronmental damage your neighbour was about to cause. State University, a member of the Texas A&M University
lakes, could be partially Unfortunately, these events have actually been hap- system. Lead funding for this innovative project was
stemmed by halting the pening for decades as a result of wetland drainage. provided by the Murphy Foundation. The Broughton’s
drainage of wetlands. In Manitoba, wetland loss is significantly deteriorating Creek watershed is located in the Rural Municipality
the province’s environment. Algae blooms on Lake Win- of Blanshard, north of Brandon. The area was selected
nipeg and many other lakes in Manitoba are a symptom as a study watershed because the land use and wetland
of increased nutrients delivered from upstream water- loss trends are representative of southwestern Manitoba.
sheds. When we lose wetlands, significant quantities of This first step of this research project determined
phosphorus are transported downstream to Manitoba the amount of wetland loss and drainage activity that
lakes and rivers. And when we lose wetlands, significant occurred in the watershed between 1968 and 2005.
amounts of carbon that were stored in those systems The research paints a clear but startling picture. A total
are released to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. We of 5,921 wetland basins – or 70 per cent of the total
need the government of Manitoba to develop an inte- number of wetlands in the entire Broughton’s Creek
grated wetland policy to protect and restore wetlands watershed – have been degraded or totally lost due to
across the province. Right now, there is very little in drainage activity. This has resulted in 21 per cent of the
place to stop this continued purge of wetlands. wetland area being lost (these numbers do not account
Never before has DUC’s push to stop the loss of for wetland loss before 1968 or after 2005).
wetlands been so staunchly supported by research. Our The second step of the project focused on develop-
results are by far the most compelling scientific support ing a hydrologic model to evaluate the environmental
24 conservator | 29-4 2008
left: 70 per cent of the
total number of wetlands
in the entire broughton’s
creek watershed have
been degraded or lost
due to drainage activity.
right: DU Canada (2)
these small wetlands
(above) are important
habitat for prairie-
impacts of this loss at a watershed scale. This research or lost wetland area and directly to downstream ditches,
determined that wetland loss since 1968 in the Brough- streams, rivers, lakes and drinking water supplies. When
ton’s Creek watershed has resulted in: many are drained, the cumulative impact is significant.
Wetlands are an integral component of the Manitoba
A 31 per cent increase in area draining downstream landscape and play a significant role in watershed health, never before
(12 square miles) especially at a large scale. DUC applied the Broughton’s has DUC’s push
Creek research results to southwestern Manitoba, an
A 18 per cent increase in peak flow following rainfall
area that has land use characteristics and wetland loss
to stop the loss
A 30 per cent increase in water flow rates similar to the Broughton’s Creek watershed. of wetlands
A 31 per cent increase in nitrogen and phosphorus
Scaling up our results from the Broughton’s Creek been so
research results to southwestern Manitoba, it is estimated staunchly
load from the watershed
that wetland drainage since 1968 has resulted in:
A 41 per cent increase in sediment loading
(annual average) A An increase in total phosphorus loading by 114 tonnes by research.
per year directly into Lake Winnipeg – equivalent
A release of approximately 34,000 tonnes of carbon,
to six per cent of the total annual phosphorus load
equivalent to 125,000 tonnes of CO2 – the annual
into Lake Winnipeg each year from all Manitoba
emissions from almost 23,200 cars
human-related sources, including agriculture and
A estimated 28 per cent decrease in the waterfowl point source pollution like waste treatment facilities.
population It is also the same as dumping 10 semi loads of
commercial agricultural fertilizer, or 544,000 bags
etlands collect and store water from (seven kilograms each) of lawn fertilizer directly
the surrounding landscape during rain or into Lake Winnipeg every year.
snowmelt.This is extremely important at the
watershed scale as wetlands are capable of storing large A A release of five million tonnes of carbon (approxi-
volumes of water, while filtering sediments and nutri- mately 32 million tonnes of CO2) to the atmosphere
ents from this water.When wetlands are drained, or even that was stored in wetland sediments and in plant
partly drained, the local drainage area is connected to material – equivalent to the emissions of 169,000
downstream flows. This causes water carrying nutrients cars for 20 years.
and sediments to move rapidly through the degraded
conservator | 29-4 2008 25
right: Darin Langhorst
left: Ian McCausland
A An increase in area contributing runoff to Lake Wetland loss needs to be stopped immediately to pre-
Winnipeg of 4,518 square kilometres, an area equi- vent further deterioration of Manitoba’s water resources.
valent to 10 times the size of the city of Winnipeg. Additionally, wetland restoration must begin if we hope
to improve and maintain the quality of our water sup-
he estimated value of wetland ecosystem plies for future generations.
services associated with nutrient removal and Within Canada’s agricultural landscape, private indi-
carbon sequestration lost between 1968 and viduals own and manage most of the land. Market
2005 as a result of wetland drainage is $430 million. To forces have generated this loss of natural habitat and
replace the ecosystem services lost in Manitoba in 2005 producers are currently incurring the costs of wetland
alone would cost approximately $15 million and this retention for society’s benefit. This DUC research will
will increase to $19 million by 2020 if wetland drainage be used to help make producers aware of the value of
is not stopped. the wetlands on their property while encouraging all
The estimates above are for southwestern Manitoba Manitobans to push for policy programs that acknow-
alone and do not account for wetland drainage across ledge the importance of landowners in nutrient and
Manitoba; the numbers would be staggering if the habitat conservation. The time for government leader-
above: map details of impact of all wetland loss was determined. Additionally, ship is now and producers have key roles to play as
a small portion of the the value of ecosystem services provided by wetlands is part of the solution. Further to this, Manitobans must
broughton’s creek dramatically underestimated here as we focus only on support government to:
watershed from 1968 benefits associated with nutrient removal and carbon
(top) and 2005 show the sequestration. A Develop and implement programs and policies that
startling rate of wetland The impact of wetland drainage and water quality provide financial incentives for landowners to retain
loss in the region. should be of concern to all Manitobans – and all Can- and restore wetlands in an economical and sustain-
adians. Wetland loss affects our quality of life and our able fashion
economic well-being. If wetland loss continues at the
A Develop and enforce regulations that conserve
present rate, phosphorus loading from southwestern
Manitoba will increase by 41 per cent by 2020, contri-
buting an additional 370 tonnes (46 tonnes per year by A Encourage wetland protection and restoration.
2020) to Lake Winnipeg. Considering that the Lake
Winnipeg Action Plan has a goal of a 10 per cent reduc- We need to help governments make good decisions.
tion in phosphorus, it will be extremely difficult to Wetlands are an important public issue and our federal,
achieve this goal if we allow wetland loss to negate provincial and municipal governments need to hear
progress made through other methods of reduction. from you. A
26 conservator | 29-4 2008
a Special dUc report
Agriculture as a solution
by C Y N T H I A E D WA R D S
Every week, Canadians are bombarded
with media stories about the environment,
be it climate change, concerns over water
quality and quantity, or species at risk.
While the media have often pointed the finger carbon sequestration, groundwater recharge, flood and
for environmental problems at agriculture, not nearly erosion control and the purification of air and water.
enough attention has been focused on the benefits that Agricultural producers can manage their lands to pro-
agricultural producers provide to society. In addition to vide an increased abundance and diversity of EGS.
producing food, Canadian farmers and ranchers produce If society demands EGS and realizes where they come
a host of other goods and services that make our lives from, they may be more willing to pay for them, espe-
better. The water quality research from Broughton’s cially if supply is short and at risk of going away. In this
Creek in Manitoba is a perfect example of the need to way, EGS is similar to other commodities that society
have landowners as a critical component of the solution. demands and farmers supply. A portion of EGS produced
Agricultural producers own and manage the majority on private land are public goods, such as water quality,
of natural capital in southern Canada. In addition to the so there is a role for government policies and programs
goods we’re all familiar with (wheat, canola and beef, to provide mechanisms for public investment in the
for example), this capital is also used to produce ecolo- natural capital that private individuals manage. These
gical goods and services. Ecological goods and services mechanisms include incentive payments, which could
(EGS) are the benefits that society receives from healthy be made through third parties that the public supports,
landscapes and the conservation of natural lands, inc- like Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC), market-based
luding wetlands. These benefits include biodiversity, incentives such as carbon credits, or government pro-
grams like the National Farm Stewardship Program.
Where payments are used there should be longer-term
to me, wetland conservation is an important investment.
donating stocks to ducks is a win-win situation because my bottom line and the environment both benefit. I reduce
tax from capital gains and receive a tax credit for the full amount of my donation. And my gift of appreciated securities helps conserve
wetlands which sustains waterfowl populations, improves water quality and prevents floods and droughts.
It’s the best return on the environment. Donate today. call 1-866-384-duck (3825).
commitments (10 years or greater) to ensure stability
both for the suppliers of the goods and services as well
as those who are paying for them.
O rganizations like DUC have been deliver-
ing EGS programs for years by taking funds
from supporters interested in waterfowl habitat
and providing that money to agricultural producers
through conservation easements and other programs
that provide waterfowl habitat. Another example is
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Green-
cover Canada program that uses funds from Canadian
taxpayers to encourage farmers to convert marginally
productive cropland to permanent plant cover (e.g.
forage crops or native plant restorations).
While developing markets for EGS can certainly help
a farmer’s bottom line, the main objective needs to be
an improvement in the ability of the ecosystem to pro-
duce the good or service of interest. There is unlikely
to be any silver bullet program. Different goods and
services result from different land management practices.
All programs need to balance the preferences of both
i’m helping save the suppliers (farmers) and the consumers (the public)
of EGS. Instruments then need to be developed to link
those willing to pay with those willing to provide.
wetlands in my Determining a fair price for traditionally non-market
goods is no small challenge. Auction schemes, such as
the Bush Tender auction being tried in Australia, could
be applied in Canada.This type of market-based instru-
ment can be used to increase the supply of a good or
service by creating a market for it – and then linking
consumers and producers. Carbon credit trading, tax
credits or public investment in best management prac-
tices such as AAFC’s new Growing Forward initiatives
are all options.
i am making a difference in the future of canada’s wetlands, and
UC has been focused on increasing the
you can too. Start a Ducks chapter in your community and see how easy and
underlying science of EGS. To answer the
rewarding wetland conservation can be. By organizing fundraising events question “What land management practices
such as dinners, auctions and sports tournaments, you’ll directly support provide which good or service?,” we’ve worked with
Ducks’ cutting-edge wetland conservation work, scientific research and universities and government partners to research the
education programs. role of wetlands in water quality, carbon sequestration
and waterfowl use.This research will help support EGS
At Ducks, we see the results of strong leadership every day. Hundreds of volunteer-
program development. Canada has the opportunity to
driven chapters across the country are raising funds that save wetlands – and learn from others who have developed EGS programs
you can, too. Take the lead in your community and start a Ducks chapter today. around the world, including Europe, Australia and the
call 1-866-384-3825 (duck) or visit ducks.ca/volunteer United States.
The science is becoming clear. Many around the
world have been experimenting with mechanisms in
support of EGS programs.Yet, while we continue to
build support on numerous fronts, our water resource
continues to deteriorate.
The time for action in Canada is now. A
by K A R L I
foCUsED, UC) WE Tla
PRojeC t EDUCaTIo
Webfoot n progra
Is offErED m
IT Is WIDEl aC r o s s C
y rECogn a n a Da a n
IzED as pr D
foUnDaT ovIDIng a
Ion for T n ExCEllE
EaChIng y nT
WE TlanD oUng pEo
s anD Eng plE aBoU
agIng ThE T
m In Cons
mallard: Brian Wolitski
region, DU e or
tion staff w
finance and ds, funders and
ork with lo
large urban eliver these programs.
programs to ucation
conservatio address the
especially th centres and that lie ahe n challeng
ose associate in rural com ad. Though es
educational d mun
focus for eac with DUC’s work, D ities, not taken a
n organizat most
h of these au U
diences varie C’s population on in reaching out to ions have
the same – e take-away message, s with of
believing th new Canadians, DUC e increasing
we however, is
ened, take ac tlands are valuable, we always
ar ies to rem
ion leads the w
tion to help tlan
conserve th ds are threat- ain a core C must cross cultural bo ,
em. Project Web anadian val und-
tal conne to a local w foot’s sponsored classes
ctions in etland. Here receive field
students to , tr tr
Nearly a q
jungle get outside ained interpreters help ips
wetlands firs and explore th
uarter mil t- the wonders e
lion new im
mig rants a their first o hand. For many of the of
centres wh h year, many of them rrive
r only expo
ere 80 per settling in u
lives. There cent of our
population rban fun port for these classes nature.
is n ders, includ comes from
with these c o denying that Canad already
Foundation ing $100,000 this year a var iety o
es a growin
a is changin
g and Pro as part of th
e launch of from the R f
g need for n ject. RBC its n BC
years in Ott has funded inner city ew Blue Water
awa and To c
ronto and th lasses for several
is has g row
conservator | 29-4 2008 31
right: students prepare
to get up close and pers-
onal with a wetland during
a field trip to manitoba’s
oak hammock marsh.
include Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, Montreal, Halifax the project. “The secretariat for the Ramsar Conven-
and St. John’s. Other sponsors, including the Winnipeg tion on Wetlands, based in Europe, and wetland educators
Foundation and Ontario Trillium Foundation, have been from dozens of countries provided ideas and input, as
eager to fund field trips to expose urban children to did numerous Canadian educators, many of whom were
nature, especially those with limited resources. not our regular science or environment types, but
“In dealing with field trips for inner city classes, we teachers of English literacy, geography, art and so on.”
quickly became aware of the huge and ever-increasing One of the big supporters of the project has been
diversity in the students that were attending our pro- the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). With 450
grams. In speaking to one of the teachers at an Ottawa elementary schools and over 100 secondary schools,
field trip I found out that their students spoke over the TDSB is one of the largest in North America and
fifty different languages – all in a school of less than 400 it claims to be “the most multicultural, multilingual
students,” says Merebeth Switzer, national education school board in the world.” The TDSB is used to deal-
coordinator for DUC. “This pointed out some of the ing with cultural diversity as over 50 per cent of its
challenges that we were starting to face in reaching students speak a language other than English when
urban Canadians. And it made us aware of the need they are at home (the board deals officially in 12 dif-
to explain to parents and family members why Ducks ferent languages). The school board supported the
Unlimited, an organization that they really didn’t know, translation of some of the resources for Wetlands and
felt it was so important to send their child off on a the World and allowed DUC staff to showcase this
wetland field trip. We saw an incredible opportunity project and DUC’s education program at several major
to engage these children in a way that made them feel conventions including the National Inner Cities Schools
included and part of their new home.You never know conference, attended by over 1,500 urban educators.
who will be your future leaders or conservationists.” Another partnership was developed with the Indi-
Having realized these challenges and opportunities, genous Co-operative on the Environment (ICE), who
DUC staff submitted a successful proposal to the Ont- became involved in the translation of some materials in
ario Trillium Foundation to grow DUC’s education the two predominant aboriginal languages in Ontario,
program in Ontario. This included a plan to research Cree and Ojibwa. However, aspects of the project so
and address ways to connect with these new audiences. interested ICE that a separate project evolved to translate
“After our initial research, we identified the needs, and produce resources in other aboriginal languages.
challenges and opportunities surrounding this project Wetlands and the World is linked to Ontario’s science
and created a plan to move ahead. Since then the pro- curriculum (Grades 4-6) and explores wetlands and
ject, Wetlands and the World, has taken on a life of its their value in maintaining a healthy world. It consists
own and has brought in input and partnerships from of several parts, some in different languages and others
all over the world,” said Switzer who has been leading which act as resources for teaching English literacy. The
32 conservator | 29-4 2008
materials are available as free downloads from DUC’s
website and print versions with accompanying CDs are “We saw an incredible
being distributed to interested teachers through work-
shops and conferences. Several groups have approached
opportunity to engage
DUC expressing interest in making these resources
available through their own networks. The project
these children in a way that
consists of three parts: made them feel included
Kids and Wetlands Go Together – a world map high- and part of their new home.
lights key wetlands and the important role wetlands
play around the globe. A Chinese quote, “Whenever
You never know who will
you drink water, cherish its source,” frames the map
in 19 different languages. Students whose language
be your future leaders or
doesn’t appear on the map are encouraged to ask their conservationists.”
family to help them translate the phrase into their first
language or to provide a quote about nature or water National education coordinator
that they can share with their classmates. The map also Ducks Unlimited Canada
highlights actions that children and DUC are taking
to conserve wetlands and encourages students and
families to explore a local natural area.
Wetlands are Wonderful! – a series of fun activity pages
are provided in English and other languages including:
Arabic, Chinese, Cree, French, Korean, Ojibwa, Punjabi,
Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese. Wetland values are
introduced in plain language and some natural and
cultural history notes are provided about common
Canadian wetland creatures. To add value and ensure
the materials make it home to the parents, each piece
includes paper models of ten common wetland creatures
including mallard, beaver, turtle, owl, fox, dragonfly,
frog, salamander, bass and heron.The 3-D paper models
this moment brought
can be used either as part of a classroom activity or as a
family project. Suggestions for ways to use the materials
are provided and black and white versions for colouring
are available too.
Resources for Teaching English Literacy – this consists
to you by ducks
of wetland lesson plans to help develop literacy skills
based on the elementary science curriculum. It also
includes student activity pages, a Picture Dictionary to
assist in vocabulary development and as a downloadable the best gift you can give this holiday season is the gift of wetland
Powerpoint presentation Wetlands Around the World. conservation. Make a donation to Ducks’ Habitat Fund for Our Heritage in the
name of someone special on your list. It’s a unique way to wrap up priceless gifts
“We have had an overwhelmingly positive response like clean water, healthy waterfowl populations and scenic wetland habitat that
to these resources from all of the groups that have been your recipient enjoys every day.
involved in their development and from the teachers
and students that have seen them,” said Switzer. “In With a donation of $25 or more, your recipient will receive a special card letting
fact, while this program was originally developed and them know you’ve made a donation on their behalf. And, you’ll both feel good
funded for use with Ontario schools, educators and knowing the gift benefits the future of Canada’s wetlands.
DUC staff across the country have told us that it will Make your gift today. call 1-866-384-duck (3825) or visit ducks.ca/habitat
meet many of their own needs so we decided to expand
the reach of the program.The wetland map is now being
included for all sponsored Project Webfoot classes and head of education in DUC’s Western Region, adding
we have made all the resources available in French.” that “it’s DUC’s goal to reach students in key wetland
While the program is just now being pilot tested a areas across the country and this partnership with
letter from a Toronto teacher/social worker suggests Talisman helps us to achieve this.”
DUC’s support for inner city classes has been effective: “Rural youth need to be able to take pride in and
understand the value of their local wetlands. This pro-
gram helps kids understand the role they can play in
conserving wetlands now and in the future when they
may become farmers or make decisions in their local
community,” Brunen says.
“Along with Talisman Energy there are a number of
other key donors who help DUC make this program
available to rural classes across Canada” says DUC’s
director of education, Rick Wishart. “Besides our local
volunteer committees who support the program in their
communities, a few of these include Alberta Environ-
right: mirroring field ment, ConocoPhillips, Dow Chemical, Imperial Oil,
trip experiences across SaskPower, Petro-Canada, Louisiana Pacific, Monsanto
the country, toronto and the Government of New Brunswick,” he added.
inner-city students Talisman’s initial support of Project Webfoot classes
practice “critter dipping” started in Edson, Alta., a community where DUC’s
at a local wetland. volunteer support is significant and where Talisman
operates a natural gas plant. DUC staff worked closely
with Talisman, both corporately and locally, to provide
“The photos (taken while testing Wetlands and the World Edson’s schools with Project Webfoot wetland resources
resources) are a testament to the beauty of our children and and an in-class presentation by a trained interpreter.
their natural interest in the world that exists just beyond Each Grade 5 class also took part in a wetland field
their concrete high-rise apartments. Ducks Unlimited has trip to the appropriately named School Lake, a wetland
provided students with an adventure far beyond the scope of near the gas plant that Talisman had enhanced with
their everyday imagination.The magnificent beauty, peace, facilities for outdoor learning.
harmony and splendour of the wetlands offered them a Field trips were delivered with the enthusiastic
glimpse into the mystical, magical, wonder of the natural assistance of local Talisman staff, who donned aprons
world.Thank you for renewing their natural curiosity and to provide a hot meal for the students. Talisman’s sup-
childhood sense of wonder.” port quickly expanded to Hinton and Grand Prairie
where through the efforts of DUC staff, partner organ-
Talisman a lucky charm for rural students izations and local Talisman volunteers, students in these
communities also became involved in wetland learning.
Ducks Unlimited Canada recognizes that many The partnership continues to grow in Alberta and
rural children also need to explore and learn about the includes plans for School Lake to be further developed
natural world around them. That is one of the reasons as a wetland learning site. This past spring, the expan-
DUC has partnered with Talisman Energy Inc. sion of Talisman’s support into rural communities in
After four years of supporting DUC’s education pro- B.C., Saskatchewan and Ontario has allowed up to
grams in parts of Alberta, Talisman Energy expanded 140 classes to be sponsored each year.
their sponsorship to three more provinces, signing a In southern Saskatchewan, 10 classes were sponsored
$500,000 five-year agreement to support classes across this year and once again, members of Talisman’s Sask-
rural Alberta as well as areas of northeast B.C., southern atchewan staff worked alongside DUC education
Saskatchewan and along Lake Erie in southwest Ontario. specialist Barbara Hanbidge to plan and deliver wetland
“This support provides an important opportunity for field trips.
many rural children to learn about the wetlands that “The Talisman folks were great to work with. They
are right in their own backyard,” says Jerry Brunen, were very efficient, knowledgeable and definitely
34 conservator | 29-4 2008
interested in the program. We had media attend in the
southwest and local conservation officers and DUC
volunteers dropped by too,” Hanbidge says.
In B.C., Talisman’s funding went to rural schools in
the Peace region, that to date has not had access to
Project Webfoot. With this support, DUC staff were
able to visit these rural schools for the first time to
showcase their Wetlands in the Classroom program.
“With the multi-year Talisman support, classes in the
future will also be able to receive the Project Webfoot
resources and field trips,” says Kathleen Fry, DUC’s
B.C. education coordinator.
The experience in Ontario was equally positive.
Over 300 students took part, visiting Hillman Marsh
– an important coastal wetland on the shores of Lake
Erie near Leamington. Fifteen Talisman staff volun-
teered for the field trip days and one appreciative
teacher even baked a cake to thank them for their
generosity. Reports were glowing.
Lindsay Coristine, a Grade 4 teacher from Gore Hill
Public School, wrote a letter to express her gratitude
me every month
for the rich experience her students were given. “Our
day was packed full of fun activities. It is something my
students will talk about and remember for years to
come,” she said.
Perhaps though, one of the most important links that
can be drawn is between Project Webfoot and DUC’s
wetland conservation work. Bev Wannick, conservation i make monthly donations to ducks because the benefits of
technician for Essex Region Conservation Authority, healthy wetlands touch my life every day. Wetlands help filter my
spoke about their partnership with DUC and the oppor- drinking water, reduce the effects of climate change, support hundreds
tunity to allow local schools to visit this local wetland
of species of waterfowl and other wildlife and provide me with beautiful
for the first time due to Talisman’s generosity.
“This partnership brings our other projects with
settings to relax and enjoy nature. For as little as $10 a month, I support
DUC full circle as the students have been able to learn wetland conservation all year long and ensure Canada’s wetlands remain
about wetlands utilizing the incredible habitat areas a part of my future.
created by DUC at Hillman Marsh Conservation Area,” Consider what wetlands do for you and help save them with your
she says. “I look forward to sharing the Project Webfoot
monthly donation today. call 1-866-384-duck (3825)
program and watching the students fall in love with
the natural habitat…to see children take part in hands-
or visit ducks.ca/monthlygiving.
on learning and gain a love for the science of living
Without support from Talisman, these rural classes Start your monthly donations during the month of
would not have access to wetland education or the December and we’ll send you a pin commemo-
ability to visit and appreciate the wetlands in their areas. rating our 70th year of conserving Canada’s
wetlands and a special 2009 Ducks calendar!
DUC’s goal is to help both urban and rural students
connect with the environment so that as these youth
grow up they will become the environmental leaders
and conservationists of the future. A
MNC1208 OFFer exPIreS FeBruAry 28, 2009
g re a t o u t d o o r s
Man of the mallards
by R YA N S M I T H
M manly men like ducks. This is the one logical
conclusion to be made of the curious happenings
in Canada’s North this past summer.
The whole chain of seemingly uncon-
nected events started with Ice Road Truckers,
a History Channel reality TV show that
hasn’t aired in Canada but became a surprise
hit in the U.S. Alex Debogorski, a Yellow-
bush pilot who sometimes likes to “weld
things together that shouldn’t be so
Further evidence Karen provided for
Mike being the ultimate manifestation of
the Y chromosome is that his favourite
“cologne” is Jet B – otherwise known as
“He loves that smell,” she explains. “He
comes home covered in it – I make him
leave a lot of his clothes outside.”
Karen hoped nominating Mike would
attract others in town to join the fun, but
knifer and trucker featured on the show, in hindsight she thinks maybe it had the
drove his way to a measure of fame that opposite effect, scaring potential entrants
culminated with People magazine naming away.
him, a father of 11, one of “TV’s manliest In the end, Mike out-manned five other
men.” contestants, winning the title by a single
The People article got the editors at The vote over Gary Burt, a karate-chopping
Yellowknifer newspaper thinking: Debogorski granddad.
may be one of the most macho guys on TV, above: a not-so-rare glimpse of “yellowknife’s manliest It was a thrilling, down-to-the-wire
but is he the manliest man in Yellowknife? man” in the wild. contest winner mike yorston donated victory, Karen says, but the crown came
They decided to put the title up for nomi- $200 of his prize money to ducks unlimited canada. at a cost for Mike. For a few weeks after
nations and let readers decide via an online winning, the Air Tindi pilot tried to keep
vote. Yorston was thereby added to the manliest a low profile, but every time he had to call
What happened next had the townsfolk man in Yellowknife mix. an air traffic control tower he took “some
laughing so hard they “blew coffee out their “Most everyone in town knows Mike, ribbing,” he says.
noses,” says Karen Yorston. so when they read about him and saw his “Oh yeah, I got it pretty good, from
By her own admission,Yorston doesn’t picture in the paper they just cracked up,” Ontario to B.C.They worked me over for
have “a creative bone in her body,” but her says Karen, who made a solid case for her a while – actually, they’re still doing it,”
unsuspecting spouse gave her enough raw 36-year-old husband – a hunting, fishing, Mike says.
material for her to feel confident submit- poker-playing, Playboy-reading, Ski-Doo- “He’d be flying over the tundra and
ting an essay to the local newspaper. Mike riding, goatee-sporting, car race-watching radio in to ask if anyone knew if the strip
36 conservator | 29-4 2008
he was over was safe to land on, and they’d “I think we can safely say that it’s con-
say, ‘Oh, it’s nothing the manliest man can’t servation-minded people like Mike and
handle,’ ” Karen says. Karen who have helped build this organi-
But winning the “honour” wasn’t entire- zation and who continue to play a major
ly a hassle for Mike – it also came with In the end, Mike out-manned role in our success,” he says. “There are a
$200 for the Yorstons to enjoy dinner at five other contestants, winning lot of great organizations out there that
their favourite restaurant, and another $200 Mike could have donated to, so we’re very
to contribute to charity. Mike chose to
the title by a single vote over grateful that Yellowknife’s Manliest Man
donate to Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC), Gary Burt, a karate-chopping chose DUC.”
an organization special to him for many granddad. For all the attention, ribbing and praise
reasons. that has come Mike’s way, he hasn’t let it
When Mike was growing up in New go to his head, Karen says.
Brunswick, his dad taught him how to hunt “Oh, maybe he’s gotten a bit cocky, but
and fish, and he fostered in Mike an appre- everyone seems to keep him in check pretty
ciation for nature and the environment. well,” she says, laughing. “He’s still just the
“I’ve been a member of Ducks Unlim- tiny little snakes to moose, and the more same old great, manly man that he was
ited since I was about eight or 10 years old,” we can conserve them, the better off the when I first met him.”
he says. “The thing I like is that their big planet is going to be. It’s as simple as that.” For his part, the good-natured Mike says
push is to conserve wetlands, and wetlands According to Jason Charlwood, DUC’s he can handle the teasing, but he still doesn’t
are the engine that drives the world. They fundraising manager and conservation pro- understand all the fuss about his masculinity.
help clean the environment, and they pro- grams specialist in Yellowknife, DUC has a “I don’t think of myself as a manly man.
vide a habitat for all types of animals, from diverse membership that they are proud of. I just do what needs to be done.” A
great holiday gift ideas!
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These items and more available only on the Online Auction!
coming soon! if you missed out on a piece of 2008 duc event merchandise that caught
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plAce your Bid todAy At ducks.ca/auction