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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Eugenia Lake, Ontario, Canada

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Eugenia Lake, Ontario, Canada
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Registered: December 2012
City/Town/Province: Dundas, Ontario
Posts: 1
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It is a privilege to be blessed with all that we have in North America. I enjoy the outdoors so much that it disappoints me to see the privilege of the outdoors being abused. When I find litter and other things that contribute to the damage of habitat, I am scared that we could lose the privilege of the outdoors all together. It is at these moments that I am reminded of the value of conservation and how blessed we really are to live in a country with such an abundance of wildlife. As a result, when I'm in the outdoors, I try to leave the wilderness just a little bit better than when I found it. Even if it's something as small as picking up a piece of garbage, it still makes a difference. Conservation is important to me because we have such an amazing privilege to enjoy the natural world and it is our responsibility to keep this privilege alive for generations to come.

My name is Matthew, and I live in Dundas, Ontario. I was fortunate to grow up in a family that allowed me to enjoy many hobbies such as hunting, fishing, hiking, canoeing, bird-watching, geocaching, and wildlife videography.

One of my favourite places to be on Earth is at my grandparents cottage on Eugenia Lake, where I spent much of my summer last year studying ducks and geese, fishing, and admiring the lake. Over the years, I was fortunate to find wood ducks, mallards, and blue-winged teal from a canoe several metres from my grandfather's dock.

This is where it all started. I was sitting on the dock and reminiscing on the way the lake used to be. It was once full of large flooded trees and stumps that provided ideal nesting habitat for a previously common spring and fall visitor, the wood duck. Over the years, as the lake became more populated with cottagers, boaters, and fishermen, the trees and stumps were removed in order to make it safer and more convenient for boaters. As a result, what are referred to as "the prettiest duck species" became less and less frequent each spring until eventually there were none to be found. The lake went from being a duck haven to a place where it was rare to see a wood duck in the spring.

I sat on the dock and continued to dream of the lake the way it used to be, with an abundance of shorebirds, ducks, geese, and other animals that used to call the lake their home. In response to this, I felt as if I had to do something. This spring, I did some research and discovered a way to promote the return of the wood ducks. I then acquired some large planks of wood. With the help of my dad, I built four wood duck nest boxes using instructions I found online. After the boxes were constructed, and drainage holes and a main entry hole were cut, I picked up some cedar wood chips from the local wood-working shop and filled the boxes.

During early spring this year, I put up the boxes. I put two up in different spots directly on the lake. I then put the other two on various spots on a nearby pond that is frequently inhabited by ducks each spring.

After three or four weeks, my father and I returned to check the boxes. To our surprise, two out of the four boxes had eggs in them! It was a time of excitement and fulfillment as we watched the hen wood duck fly into the nest from afar.
It was a great joy to watch the new family of wood ducks flying over the lake on several mornings this summer. I plan to maintain these boxes each year, as well as set up a several more in years to come. It was one of the most fulfilling moments to actually see our efforts paid off. This project has strengthened my love and passion for the outdoors. I have learned that you can make a difference, no matter how small.

For me, the wood ducks at my grandparent's cottage are more than just birds. They are a sign of hope. Every time I see the bright green head of a wood duck drake, or hear their loud screech on the lake, I am reminded that making a difference is possible. I am reminded of our call to be stewards of creation. Most of all, I am reminded of how amazing our natural world really is, and the importance of keeping it amazing for generations to come.
Date: December 30, 2012 Views: 4630 File size: 20.4kb, 106.9kb : 641 x 480
Hours Volunteered: 30
Volunteers: 2
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 40 to 45
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