Easiest Volunteer Gig Going

As I sweat through Edmonton’s spring, it’s hard to remember a time when the city was a barren landscape of snow and ice. It seems only days ago…

The frosts are a distant memory except for the seedlings I overwintered for the Edmonton Native Plant Group. These first year plants wouldn’t have made it sitting out, bare to the elements. So I pulled up my socks for the determined folks over at ENPG. Judith Golub brought me over two trays with tiny bits of Blue Grama Grass, Meadow Blazingstar and Golden Aster.

Now here’s the hard part: I put them in my garden and covered them with dirt.
Blue Grama Grass, Meadow Blazingstar and Golden Aster, barely a year old.

Blue Grama Grass, Meadow Blazingstar and Golden Aster, barely a year old.

By September, my veggies had all been harvested and I had just enough room to fit these dainties in my garden. I dug a few inches down, placed the trays, and backfilled the dirt just over the edges and between each pot.

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When I prepared my garden for vegetables, I brought the trays up as well.

As I shivered through the winter, these hardy beauties bided their time, snug in their beds. Just before May long weekend, when I was almost brave enough to plant my veggies back in, I dug up the trays. I made sure the plants had water and sun. And we both kinda hung out together.

Then I emailed Judith. I said “that was pretty hard work. What’s the point in all this, anyways?”

“For years, the City of Edmonton allowed ENPG to use a part of the land at their Old Man Creek Nursery for a native plant nursery to raise plants for seed and to grow for those communities and schools wishing to put in native plant beds, as well as for restoration purposes at Nisku and Fort Saskatchewan Prairies. ENPG also sells native plants at various events around the city. Due to the Anthony Henday expansion OMCN has to move to another location, and we have to also move our plants.”

The ENPG sells these seedlings each spring at local sales as well as Arch Greenhouses.

Judith was pretty jazzed over rising sales of their seedlings. “The desire for native plants has increasingly (and encouragingly!) grown over the years, by gardeners realizing the benefits of growing natives, as well as wanting to help preserve our local species. Each year, volunteers grow more and more from seed, but second-year plants are more robust and take to transplanting better, so we need space to allow the potted up seedlings to over-winter.”

And then she asked if I wanted to keep my seedlings. “Over-wintered plants may be used by the ‘foster parents’ in their own gardens, with the understanding that ENPG may wish to collect seed and seedlings from them for our own use, thus giving ENPG a much larger seed and plant bank.”

Judith said

Judith said “Don’t give up on the ones that “didn’t make it” – blue grama grass, for instance, is called a ‘warm weather’ grass as it often doesn’t show up until mid-June!”

I notched off an hour of my Master Naturalist volunteer time, and the ENPG is slowly taking over the city.

I’m pretty sure that’s what Judith meant when she wrote: “having the plants spread around the city ensures that if one particular species should succumb to disease or pests in one location, there will be other surviving populations elsewhere.”

International Migratory Bird Day

This post could be also known as So Much Going On at Nature Alberta!  They’ve given their website a new look, rebranded the kids program and have a great event kicking off our warmer weather.

Nature Kids, formerly the Young Naturalists Club, is offering the same great opportunities with a new look and name. From their website:

Nature Kids is a nature-focused program with the goal of teaching children (aged 5-13) and their families about nature. We provide educational materials and organize field experiences that promote being outdoors, observing nature, scientific investigation, environmental stewardship, and healthy living.

Nature Alberta and Nature Kids are getting together to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day out at the Beaverhill Bird Observatory on May 23rd. There will be live bird banding, accompanied by games and activities provided by Nature Kids. It’s absolutely free, and open to families of all ages – it’s definitely not limited to children!

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Nature Alberta and Nature Kids are always a great source of volunteer hours for budding Master Naturalists. Plus they offer great opportunities to simply LEARN! Keep an eye on their blog and website for upcoming opportunities in Edmonton’s communities.

For more information on this event and future volunteer opportunities, email Emily Dong at naturekids@naturealberta.ca

This handy map to reach the Beaverhill Bird Observatory can also be found on the BBO website:

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The Beaverhill Bird Observatory is outside of Edmonton so volunteer hours aren’t applicable towards your certificate. That said, the knowledge about birds will be invaluable. Check out their website for more events like the BIG Birding Breakfast on May 30. How can you go wrong with an event that combines learning about migrating birds returning to our area with BACON?!

Speaking of volunteering and birds: if you attend this event, or are a birding enthusiast, why not share your experiences on this blog?! Have you got an event you’d like to advertise on the blog? Looking for volunteers with your nature project? Email us!