As an event-filled season under the guidance of Shauna Doll, assisted by Mackenzie Blanchard and Robinson Cassidy, draws to a close the board of directors has much to be thankful for. Hundreds of students, researchers, and guests were supported, instructed, entertained, and generally looked after throughout this, our 13th season by our staff.
While Shauna steadied the tiller, Robinson kept starboard watch over Carters Beach in her role as intern with its new owner, the Department of Lands and Forestry. Her cheerful demeanor no doubt helped as she conducted surveys with beach-goers and generally witnessed how people interact with this stretch of the coast that has, in many eyes, been unfairly singled out for attention.
Meanwhile, Mackenzie kept watch from the crow’s nest for program opportunities; over social media content, and filled in at the tiller whenever Shauna needed a break. There was and is much more to sailing the good ship HLC, and quite amazing to see three people pick up and carry on through 2019 with the board hardly having to lift a finger.
Well, just about.
Our thanks to all who answered the call to share their time and knowledge guiding a myriad of events, from night sky watching (on the eve of the Apollo landing) to chainsaw use; from songbird identification to capturing Monarch caterpillars and seeing them through chrysalis stage and on to emergence as lovely butterflies carrying DNA messages reading, “Head south, chica, Mexico beckons.”
The impressive list of those who made a season’s programming possible includes crafter Cindy Hagen; horticulturist Patrick Allan; CWF’s 2018 wild educator of the year Sue Penny; geologists Tom Clark and Pierrette Tremblay; returning archaeological researcher, Dr. Matthew Betts; Garden Coordinator at Dartmouth North Community Food Centre, Rob MacNeish; and many, many more!
Much thanks as well to volunteers Anna Lits and Ellen Eder who pitched in on all sides in late August. Their mark(s) from field lab to gardens will be felt for weeks and in some instances even years to come. I prefer to think of volunteers like these two as working with rather than for us. They bring energy and perspective and skills that count for much in addition to actual deeds.
Returning to the Monarchs, would that succession, as I pull back from ownership of property and facilities and oversight, went as smoothly. Of course, we have not had eons and generations to work out the wrinkles. We are still at the caterpillar stage, or I am, and am grateful for the patience shown.
My opinion, and one shared by others with whom I have spoken, is that we are in need of an individual or couple (preferably the latter) to take over, operating the centre year-round. It makes no sense starting each year anew. Besides, the Harrison Lewis Centre should be a year-round adventure, with programming on-site and in the vicinity from May to October, and off-site the remainder of the year. I envision HLC Travels to field stations in the South, in Central and South America; HLC-sponsored lecture series bringing noted biologists and environmentalists to towns and cities throughout the Maritimes, and more. Why not?
As for local programming, natural history related experiences and rural skills are excellent pursuits but how about following up the suggestion that the HLC take a leading role helping coastal communities cope with the climate crisis? Big undertaking? Indeed, but the HLC I’d like to witness from St. Peter’s gate is up to all of this and more. I am convinced the potential is there to be grasped shaped.
Great, you say. But how do we get there from here, where we look to government to support hiring part-time help for a few weeks each year? Great help, to be sure. We have been so very fortunate. But. . . . ? Here’s a serious invitation to everyone with an idea or suggestion about the path we might take. Please don’t hold back. Share your thoughts. I am convinced that there are ways and means for this registered charity, sitting on a gorgeous beach on the North Atlantic in the midst of thousands of acres of protected lands, can come up with the intellectual and financial resources needed to become a leader in the realm of rural resilience.
Best wishes to all, Dirk