Hike funding

UTRCA Receives Funding to Host Celebrating Natural Connections Events Across the Watershed

With nearly $240,000 in funding from the federal government, the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority will host a series of eight in-person events and two virtual events at natural spaces across the watershed to celebrate the importance of these outdoor spaces during the worst of events. Covid19 pandemic.

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In recognition of the importance of natural spaces in helping people get through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic when indoor gatherings were restricted, the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority will be hosting a series public events in natural spaces across the watershed called Celebrating Natural Connections.

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With eight in-person events and two online events scheduled between late August and early next year, each including a public or virtual hike, as well as activities, exhibits and presentations, Celebrating Natural Connections has been made possible thanks to the receipt of nearly $240,000 in federal funding from the Canadian Heritage Celebrations and Commemorations Program Reopening Fund.

“During the pandemic we saw that these natural spaces were really important for people in terms of mental health, getting out, trying to cope with the stress of the pandemic, so we wanted to celebrate these spaces and also the people who have helped get us through the pandemic,” said Emily Chandler, communications and marketing specialist at the Conservation Authority.

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“So each of the events will have a hike, we partner with local groups to provide programming and hands-on activities for children, but we will also have a commemorative element that will be installed on site for the future, such as a bench with a plaque or pollinator gardens, just to acknowledge what we’ve been through and the efforts that (frontline workers and others) have gone to to get us to where we are now.

The first of these events will take place at Burgess Park in Woodstock from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 27. The event will include a guided hike led by the Woodstock Field Naturalists club and environmental education staff from the conservation authority, as well as wildlife demonstrations with Sciensssational Snakes, a wildlife gardening workshop, an Oxford EarlyON Story Stroll and more.

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“Burgess Park is the perfect location for this event as we have done many projects there with our community partners,” Brad Hertner, community education supervisor for the Conservation Authority, said in a statement. Press. “We are excited to tell the public about these projects and are planning a day full of outdoor learning that people will really enjoy.”

Other Celebrating Natural Connections events will take place at the Wildwood Conservation Area in St. Marys on September 24; at Hodges Pond in Sweaburg, near Woodstock, on October 15; at Lion’s Park in Mitchell on October 22; and at the TJ Dolan Nature Area in Stratford on October 29.

For a full list of events, visit www.thamesriverevents.ca/s-projects-basic.

“It’s about getting out there, having a good time, but appreciating natural spaces and taking a moment to try and acknowledge what we’ve been through, who has helped us so far and sharing that appreciation” , said Chandler.

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