The Smithers Scouts have gotten involved with a David Suzuki project to help bees and butterflies in the Bulkley Valley.
The Butterflyway Project is a citizen-led movement growing highways of habitat for bees and butterflies across Canada.
According to the David Suzuki website, wild pollinators such as butterflies and bees are crucial to human survival. Climate change and widespread pesticide use are compromising their habitat and food sources. One-third of all the food we eat depends on pollinator species.The Butterflyway Project aims to help people step up efforts to help pollinators find food and shelter.
While The Butterflyway Project has expanded to more than 100 communities throughout the country, the scouts are representing the Northwest as the only group between Prince George and Whitehorse, Yukon.
“This is an honour, but it also tells us that the more community involvement that we can get the better it will be for our pollinators and our community,” said Kevin Mernickle, one of the organizers of the local project and scout leader.
Mernickle said the pandemic has given his family a bit more time to focus on some of the things they feel inspired to do, such as this pollinator project.
In his current position for BC Parks, as well as past consulting work, he has had the opportunity to study butterflies as an indicator species of ecosystem health and now as pollinators. He connected with The David Suzuki Foundation a few years ago while pursuing his passions and this past winter the Butterflyway Ranger opportunity was presented.
“I was very excited and shared the idea with my family, [wife] Aurora, who also has a love of nature, a degree in biology and a passion for educating youth, as well my two children, Isaac and Ellie who inspire us every day. We were all very thrilled to be a part of such an incredible project and to be associated with such a prestigious foundation. It is a legacy that is passed on to generation after generation. Aurora and I, both now in our 40s, remember watching David Suzuki and his inspirations as young children.”
Mernickle was recently accepted as a Butterflyway Ranger with the David Suzuki Foundation and said these opportunities allow him to teach, educate and mentor youth while supporting initiatives that promote protection of the planet and resources like creating pollinator habitat and public awareness.
The Smithers Scouts have recently coordinated with the Recycling and Environmental Action Planning Society in Prince George and received 50 donated hanging baskets and many native plants from Twin Sister Native Plant Nursery in Moberly Lake.
“This is also a fundraiser for the Smithers Scouts Group who have been an incredibly supportive and inspired team, always looking to provide meaningful educational opportunities for the fortunate youth involved,” said Mernickle.
They are planting native pollinator plant species in a few raised bed gardens at schools in Smithers with special thanks to the Helene Fluery snd the BV Groundbreakers, a not-for-profit agricultural association focussed on local food.
They are also developing educational interpretation signage for the schools. For the fundraising aspect, they are planting hanging baskets to provide people of the community with a to-go version of plants that they can eventually plant in their own yards and gardens to support pollinators.
The Smithers Scouts groups are also planting a pollinator garden at the Watershed Stewardship Center in Houston.