Importance of providing opportunities for youth

In these times when governments are cutting back on support of education and student involvement in summer work experience it is timely to get a reflection by two students who had the opportunity to work with TREPA a number of years ago. Thanks to Mil Nickerson for forwarding this and showing us why we need to keep pushing to support our youth in meaningful environmental work.

What A Job…

As students at Acadia University we were both eligible for the Student Loans Economical Renewal Program. The program is open to students with student loans to offer experience in their field of study. Students are expected to approach potential non-profit organizations that could provide valuable experience in relation to their studies.

Both being Biology students, from the area, with concerns about the future of our environment, TREPA was an obvious first choice. In April we met with TREPA members and discovered that we could provide valuable resources to each other. TREPA experience relevant to our biology careers and we could provide fresh ideas for future work.

The first adventure we incountered was studying the Gaspreau that migrated through our water systems ( focusing on the Tusket River ). Our purpose was to average the Gaspreau population as well as focusing on related factors, such as sex, weight and age. Several specimens were collected daily at which time their lenghth, weight and sex were recorded. Scales of each specimen were collected and mounted on slides, which would later be used to determine the age of the fish. At the ladder a count was preformed each hour ( from 9-5 ) for 15 min., at this time air, water temperature and weather conditions were also recorded.

This would provide an estimate of the population size as well as any migration patterns. We studied the Gaspreau until the end of June when their migration stopped, at this time we started to study the American Eel ( elvers ).

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans provided the Nova Scotia Power Corporation with traps that would collect the young Americian eels, elvers. Elvers are the baby Americian eels returning from the ocean and entering our lakes and streams. The purpose of the traps was to determine whether or not an eel ladder had to be built to provide the eel’s with passage around the dam.

There were two traps at differend positions to determine the best location of the ladder. The eels were collected, counted, and sampled from each trap and then were released in Vaughan Lake. In May we accepted an invitation to the East Kemptville Tin Mine site and surrounding areas to work with four BEAK Enviormental specialists on a Bio- assement of the area for Rio algom. At this time we were able to experiment different techniques used to assess this ecosystem. Such techniques including PH and dissolved oxygen reading, Electrofishing, collectiing and siftimg sediment samples and collecting wildlife sample.

In mid July we packed up and went to Digby Neck for three days. There we joined Gini Proulx, Ruth Newell, and Carol Jacquard t0 survey local bogs for Golden Crest ( Lophiola aurea) and other rare plants. On this endevour we became aquanited with common bog plants and names ( both scientific and common) Upon visiting a site we discovered Golden Crest and recorded it’s Geographic location, associated flora, colony size and population. While revisiting a new Golden Crest site we also discovered Mountain avens ( Geum peckii) a plant that was recorded in Canada as only existing on Brier Island.

Other projects that we were involved with included map work and developement of a coastal plains flora bibliography for Department of Natural Resources, recording salmon collection data from Tusket Dam and powerhouse traps, pH water samples of certain water systems in Yarmouth county, observation and exploration of Barrio clearcuts and locating piping plover’s nests in Shelburne county.

As you can tell we had an exciting and eventful summer. At times it was difficult to distinguish if we were actually working or playing. One things for certain we experienced and obtained more knowledge than we thought possible in four short months. The people we’ve met and the experiences shared will stay with us forever. We would like to thank all TREPA members for giving us the opportunity to gain hands on experience in the work force. Special thanks to Patrick Patten for putting up with us on a daily basis and to Mil Nickerson who always insisted we do our work but  above all else make sure we had fun, there’s no doubt…WE DID!!

Thank You TREPA,

Susan Aresenault and Jemie Lent

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