The Canadian Conservation Corps — A True Family Affair

My journey with the Canadian Conservation Corps (CCC) has had no shortage of opportunities and unexpected experiences.

I am so grateful!

This September, I had the opportunity to assist with the co-facilitation of phase one training of group five, better known as The Mountain GOATs.

Bonding During Service

The team had the chance to give back by painting the facility where we were staying, including the outhouse and the deck surrounding the main building. This was a great opportunity for some true teamwork and bonding while helping out the Girl Guides camp.

ccc service work
Service Project for the Girl Guides Camp

It was really cool to learn new perspectives and skills surrounding the team building and leadership activities through a facilitation role. I gained a whole new appreciation for how diverse groups and individuals approach different scenarios, challenges and decisions. The most interesting part of my experience was seeing first-hand how the Mountain GOATs were developing their team dynamics and individual presence in the group.

Team building activity with the Mountain GOATs
Team building activity with the Mountain GOATs

It’s truly remarkable how young Canadians from across the country with all sorts of backgrounds, experiences, and representation can fuse such a strong bond in such a small time. I guess it goes to show you that a common passion for the outdoors and conservation can bind any group no matter where you come from or who you are.

Big Brother Jeremy

It was such a privilege to meet and get to know everyone from the Mountain GOATs. I was unofficially named Big Brother Jeremy as I came to get to know the Mountain GOATs more as the weeks went on. A moment that stood out for me was when we picked up the Mountain GOATs from their expedition.

The Outward Bound leaders greeted me with “You must be Jeremy!” Not having met them previously, they came to learn who I was as the Mountain GOATs shared stories from week one.  This was a heart-warming moment as I learned that my presence and insight had already left a huge, positive impact on this group. I really feel like an honorary Mountain GOAT family member. I left this experience with 12 new friends from across the country and I truly hope our paths cross in the future.

Human knot activity
Human knot activity

I am sending all kinds of good vibes to each of the Mountain GOATs as they embark on their phase two placements across Canada.  I look forward to following their journeys and wish them the best along the way.

The Canadian Conservation Corps Believes in Young Canadians

It’s crazy to see this program expand.  I am so thankful to be part of the CCC program because it invests and believes in young Canadians to build a better Canada. It is such an honour to have met and gained new friends from different groups.

Mountain GOAT mascots ready for adventure
Mountain GOAT mascots ready for adventure.

I’m looking forward to seeing this program grow and embarking on new experiences with my new role in phase 3 and as a CCC alumni. CCC is a true family affair.

Learn more about the Canadian Conservation Corps.

The opinions expressed are those of the participant and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

Conserving Fresh Water Ecosystems

This summer I had the opportunity to assist with a whirling disease monitoring project through Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), Trout Unlimited Canada (TUC) and the Canadian Conservation Corps (CCC).

I am very grateful to be of service as fresh water source protection is a close passion of mine. I hope to continue to help improve monitoring and research particularly in areas of water resources as I know the work I am doing is helping to protect places I love to enjoy.

jeremy harbinson alberta river

What is Whirling Disease?

As explained by Trout Unlimited Canada, whirling disease is caused by a microscopic parasite and affects salmonid fishes including trout and whitefish by deforming and killing juveniles. The parasite requires two hosts: tubifex worms, which are found in many waterbodies, and salmonid fish. The parasite is released from tubifex worms when the water temperature is between 10 °C and 15 °C.

Our team was tasked with installing HOBO water temperature loggers in selected headwaters in Castle Provincial Park that were pre-selected by Albert Environment and Parks & TUC through geographic mapping software and aerial maps.
Our team was tasked with installing HOBO water temperature loggers in selected headwaters in Castle Provincial Park that were pre-selected by Albert Environment and Parks & TUC through geographic mapping software and aerial maps.

Our team was tasked with installing water temperature loggers in selected headwaters in Castle Provincial Park, which were pre-selected through geographic mapping software and aerial maps. After receiving training in July from Alberta Environment and Parks on how to launch and install these temperature loggers, we geared up to begin the installations in August.

In order to properly install these temperature loggers there are key steps to follow to ensure a success deployment. For instance, configuring the logger’s settings is required to set appropriate time interval of temperature recording to sustain an adequate amount of data recorded.

Other factors that have to be considered are environmental conditions of high flows and hazardous debris that could potentially damage or completely remove the logger from its placement. This was factored in through securing the loggers in a threaded housing case and zip tying them in place to protect from physical damage.

In order to prevent further cross contamination of whirling disease across other water bodies our gear was cleaned, drained and dried to remove any sediment material.

jeremy harbinson Traci Blacksmith hiking

We located the selected logger sites through provided GPS coordinates from AEP, which required a little game of hide and go seek.

There are two methods of approach when installing the loggers in a watercourse using either marine epoxy or rebar. The choice of method installation is case-dependent, however, marine epoxy is preferred because it is comparatively the least invasive and known to better withstand the environmental conditions.

A critical step in installing water temperature loggers is properly documenting all the details required to have a successful data set and ability to relocate the temperature loggers to download the data. For instance, some common parameters to record is the latitude/longitude coordinates of the temperature logger, site description, data logger serial number, and directions how to access the site.

Citizen Science

Our CCC team also had the opportunity to assist with the Discovering Didymo Distribution citizen science project facilitated by Trout Unlimited Canada in partnership with the University of Calgary and funded by the Alberta Conservation Association. As explained by Trout Unlimited Canada, didymo is a type of single‐celled, microscopic alga known as a Diatom.  Diatoms have an outer “shell” of silica called a frustule. Some diatoms, like Didymo, can produce a stalk. Recently, enormous stalk production by Didymo has resulted in thick mats of Didymo in rivers worldwide and has generated concern because of possible impacts on the salmonid fish of these rivers (View distribution map).

The task we assisted with was sampling various rocks in a watercourse by scraping algae from the rocks using a standardized method. Samples were preserved in a test tube, which will be analyzed at the University of Calgary.

Read more about Jeremy’s experience with CWF’s Canadian Conservation Corps.

How “Great” Are the Great Lakes?

Water quality and conservation is a topic of concern that means the most to me because growing up in Southern Ontario I was blessed like every Ontarian, to be surrounded by a tremendous network of fresh water bodies of the Great Lakes and the watersheds that connect them. The Great Lakes define Ontario and Canada geographically, economically, culturally, and environmentally these fresh water lakes are pinnacle cornerstone in Canada’s history, present, and future.

Canada is a natural resource rich country, especially in terms of freshwater which bears a grave global responsibility to protect and conserve approximately 20 per cent of the world’s freshwater resources. Over the years there has been and continues to grow a wide a range of issues and concerns in the Great Lakes surrounding; water levels, water quality, eutrophication, development pressures, endangered species, invasive species, runoff and recharge, fish populations, among many others.

Water conservation has been a big part of my academic career through studying the transboundary water governance of the Great Lakes and eutrophication process occurring in Lake Erie. Further, as well as my professional career development I have been involved as a water resources assistant assessing the water quality of water channels across a watershed.

I hope to continue to gain knowledge and perspective on this issue with the Canadian Conservation Corps (CCC) program. I believe being a part of CCC will allow myself to explore the diverse fluvial process across different provinces of Canada, and ultimately grow my appreciation for water conservation. Further, I feel my passion for water resources will expand from interacting with a diverse group of peers and partners, thus, I hope I able to make a positive impact on others about this issue. I plan to focus my future endeavors with CCC towards learning and growing my skills sets to address conservation efforts and education in the realm of water resources, especially the Great Lakes.

I can’t wait to get started with CCC and look forward to seeing where this chapter takes me!

The opinions expressed are those of the participant and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Canadian Wildlife Federation.