Congratulations to the winner for the 2022 SAM Scholarship, Cerren Richards! The SAM Scholarship is a $1000 Scholarship awarded annually. The next scholarship application deadline is May 2023.
Cerren is currently pursuing her PhD at Memorial University of Newfoundland in collaboration with Environment and Climate Change Canada. The overarching aim of her research is to determine how environmental change constrains seabird energetics across multiple levels of biological organization. Along with her PhD work, Cerren also designs infographics that highlight seabird diversity, threats and conservation with the hopes to promote conversation and inspire individuals to spearhead changes in their perceptions and behaviours. Following her PHD, Cerren plans to continue her passion for marine conservation through pursuing a career path dedicated to applied wildlife conservation and research in NL.
In 2013 SAM members first established an externally managed, charitable endowment fund and continue to seek to build the balance of that fund over time. The vision and agreed long-term intent of this fund is that it will become a provincial source of habitat stewardship and conservation funding. Annual equity realized from the fund could be used to stabilize SAM’s operations, increase its public profile and contribute, in a way consistent with the Vision Statement of SAM, to the conservation activities of its members and the wider Newfoundland and Labrador conservation community. In particular, it is envisioned that such a fund could benefit municipalities, charitable partner entities and the wider conservation community involved in likeminded environmentally driven projects. In the shorter-term, portions of equity from the fund are being used to support the SAM Environmental Stewardship Awards, in particular the SAM Scholarship.
SAM's Environmental Stewardship Award, going forward, will be used to recognize an individual, group, organization or business who has gone above and beyond in their community to support wildlife habitat stewardship, whose responsible management of wildlife habitat and the environment within Newfoundland and Labrador exceeds expectations. Winners of these Awards do not have to be from a SAM Member Community.
The SAM Environmental Stewardship Award will be awarded based on three levels, outlined below:
Innovative Organizations - Business or Non-Profit/Community Group
This award recognizes a local Business’, Non-Profit’s, or Community Group’s significant innovation or achievement in environmental stewardship. The Innovation Award recognizes a significant initiative or achievement of a Business or Non-Profit/Community Organization in Newfoundland and Labrador who is engaging in green activities and milestones. This could include business projects with a positive environmental impact, or contribution(s) to the community from an environmental or sustainable perspective.
This award recognizes an individual’s significant initiative or achievement in environmental stewardship in Newfoundland and Labrador. This individual’s actions will have had a positive environmental impact, proving to be a key force in conserving the environment. This Champion Award recognizes an individual’s contributions to environmental sustainability, bringing us one step closer to a greener future.
SAM Student Scholarship
First awarded in 2015, this scholarship is awarded to a student either from or studying in Newfoundland and Labrador whose interests, activities and post-secondary goals are focused on the conservation of habitat in this province.
In early July, SAM's Outreach Coordinator Karleena made the trek to Labrador, visiting with four of our member communities:
She was quite busy on her trip - meeting with Town Councils and completing some Outreach along the way. Her first stop was in the Towns of Labrador City and Wabush. She also met up with Luke Parsons of Ducks Unlimited Canada - Labrador West Chapter to see all of the amazing work that they have been doing in the area to improve and reclaim wildlife habitat.
Overall having SAM's presence back in Labrador was truly beneficial - we were able to work with communities to identify some potential future projects, and we got to check on the status of conservation in the areas we set out to protect.
Conservation Biologist Ashley has been quite busy this summer! She spent some time working with SAM communities in the Western and Northern parts of the island. In early summer she worked with Intervale Associates for a couple of days to do some Piping plover monitoring in Port aux Basques and the Codroy Valley.
Ashley led an interpretive walk around the town on behalf of the Stephenville Crossing Recreation Committee with the help of local bird enthusiast Terry Downey. As well, she visited the Town of Steady Brook to participate in a Town Clean-up
In August, Ashley travelled to the Greater Northern Peninsula, where she was able to help train the Port au ChoixConservation Corps NL Green Team. Ashley assisted them with some training on interpretive walks and wildflowers of the area.
During her time in the Northern Peninsula, Ashley also visited Hawke’s Bay, which is full of wonderful wetland habitat. The John Hogan trail beautifully showcases the wonderful wetland habitat in Hawke’s Bay and the Torrent River, which is a scheduled Salmon River. Ashley also had the opportunity to visit the town of Main Brook. She met the owner and operator of Tuckamore Lodge, and Main Brook council member Barb Genge.
Overall, Ashley was very pleased to see all the stewardship activity happening in each of these communities and looks forward to working with them again in the future.
In June, Conservation Biologist Zach travelled to the Bonavista Peninsula to visit new habitats, and to meet with councilors on their stewardship efforts and assess some SAM management units.
Zach's first stop was the municipality of Trinity Bay North (TBN), who are interested in establishing some conservation areas within their planning boundaries. Zach assessed and collected various biodiversity data in different wetland, upland, river, and coastal habitats around TBN, met with councilors and held a public information session on the proposed plan.
In Bonavista, Zach met with teachers of Matthew Elementary and presented SAM's Wetlands 101 program to some eager kids. Zach also met with Bonavista Girl Guides and took them on an interpretive walk around Old Day’s Pond and installed secondary cavity tree nesting boxes, for species, like tree swallows, to find refuge, in appropriate areas around the pond. It was a great learning opportunity, and we managed to safely observe a group of Gadwalls around the pond.
Other stops along the way included Elliston and their puffin site management unit, and a jaunt to Keels, about an hour's drive west of Bonavista, where Zach met with the Mayor and Town Clerk to discuss how SAM could possibly provide some support to their municipality.
Zach also stopped into Port Rexton to collect data for the Birds Canada Breeding Bird Atlas and assessed potential habitat for protection. Zach looks forward to the future of SAM on the Bonavista Peninsula.
As the days grow shorter and Newfoundland’s migratory birds begin to head south, the atlassing season draws to a close once more. Launched in 2020, Newfoundland’s Breeding Bird Atlas is a 5-year citizen science project which aims map the distribution of all the bird species breeding on the island. With 3 of our 5 years now behind us, we are officially past the halfway point of the project!
Over the past 3 summers, 185 volunteer birders of all different experience levels have contributed their observations of more than 170 bird species to our online database. Many of our partners – including SAM staff – have also helped out by collecting audio recordings of bird song, which can be interpreted by trained Atlas staff. In total, citizen scientists have contributed more than 6,000 hours of birdwatching time to the Atlas!
Although this year’s atlassing season is coming to an end, we have lots planned for the fall and winter to tide us over until our migrants return in the spring. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for our upcoming webinar series and an exciting photo contest this fall. And we’re already starting to plan our schedule of guided bird walks for next spring. If your municipality would like to host a walk in April, May, or June 2023, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Working with Green Teams
One way that SAM continually supports our members is by assisting them in applying for, and supporting them in employing, a Conservation Corps NL Green Team. Green Teams focus on local environmental and cultural projects developed in partnership with communities, organizations, and corporate partners.
Sam's West Coast Conservation Biologist Ashley had the opportunity to work closely with the Port au Choix Green Team this summer. As a part of their work plan, the Green Team had decided to do some interpretive walks in the area. Ashley gave the team some training on how an interpretive walk works, introducing wildflowers in the area to participants of the walk.
They were also tasked with cleaning up some abandoned saw mill and wood debris from wood piles that were found on the Limestone Barrens, an ecosystem at risk. They support a very high percentage of the province's rare plants. The Town of Port au Choix has taken the initiative to clean these areas to increase the space the plants can grow.
SAM East Coast Conservation Biologist’s Zach spent some time with the the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philips Green Team, providing orientation and field training for data collection in the Beachy Cove Brook Gully Management Unit, and explored the town’s other management units.
Zach also worked closely with the City of St. John's team in the Lundrigan’s Marsh Conservation Area on several different components of their workplan: field sampling; citizen science platforms; tree planting event with City of St. John's councillor Maggie Burton and Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary; and other general project assistance. With some assistance from Karleena, the team also developed new replacement interpretive signage for the lookout as the old signage was in disrepair.
Members of the Green Teams were able to gain a lot of experience this summer, with several of the team members wishing to be pursue a career in the environmental field. As we work with municipalities to protect wildlife habitat for future generations, it is encouraging to see some of the youth of that future generation follow suit into the conservation world.
DUC Labrador West Committee members at a wetland identified to be protected in partnership with Tacora Resources (Founding Member Luke Parsons on the left)
In the summer of 2018, Labrador West Committee was formed. Founder, Luke Parsons, had been a fan of DUC for years and wanted to volunteer with the organization - but there wasn't a chapter in his area, so, he started one.
Luke is a conservation officer in the Town of Wabush, and is all about balance - he's also an avid waterfowl hunter. While some might see a contradiction in his love of both hunting and conservation, he says his pastimes are actually two sides of the same coin, coexisting within an environmental equilibrium - "If you take from the land, you’ve got to give back."
Over the years they have held several large fundraisers including dinners and auctions. These fundraisers have allowed them to complete several projects in the Labrador West Region:
In 2019 they developed a Nest Box Program, which is now in its third year with 190 nesting boxes installed - providing alternative nesting options for waterfowl in the area.
In 2020 they began an Educational Signage Program, which is still ongoing.
In 2021 they secured a Wetland Partnership with Tacora Resources, with an agreement for 30 years.
In 2021, they began a Trail Enhancement Program which is continuing on the Jean Lake Walking Trail with the Town of Wabush.
In 2021 the Tamarack Viewing Area in Town of Labrador City was established on Little Wabush Lake, and is still ongoing with plans to add benches and a paved parking area.
A Youth Education Program is in the works and due to begin in October of 2022.