Dear TLB Supporter,
2018 has been a challenging year, that has brought intense and exhausting work, that was needed to keep up with the pace…and I have heard this same reaction by many folks across the social sector. Perhaps this has been spurred on by the ever changing social climate and the volume of issues. Therefore, in the world today, demands we are facing – as organizations, collectively as a Nation, and simply as humans – are increasing…
But, because bitter pills often are the “best medicine”, looking back, this year has also been one where we made very large strides!
In fact, at the onset, the busy-ness of the year started because of a wonderful win; a three-year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to support the growth of our Turtle Guardians program.
The Land Between started this program in 2013 because the region is home to over 1/3 of all of Ontario’s turtles. Turtles take anywhere between 30 and 80 years to replace themselves in the environment. Therefore, every adult turtle in the wild is precious and important for the survival of the population. It is estimated that the world has experienced more than 50% declines in turtles in the last 30 years, but the numbers may actually closer to 70%. Therefore, if we have a hope of saving the species in Ontario, that hope rests in this landscape.
In 2017, The Land Between declared a turtle crisis when I counted ten times the number of road mortalities and injuries of turtles during their prime nesting season, the flowering moon (the first full moon in June). The news of the crisis made international headlines, and more people were helping turtles across roads, which was wonderful…but more was needed. And, so I decided to call all the major provincial NGO’s and groups involved in turtle conservation and also enlisted the help of the school boards. A team of nine agencies agreed to collaborate to increase citizen science in order to recover turtles- with a focus on supporting youth/next generations in becoming Turtle Guardians! The Trillium Lakelands School Board, Scales Nature Park, Toronto Zoo, Ontario Nature, START (a program of the Georgian Bay Turtle Hospital and the hospital too), Eco-Kare International Road Ecology Experts, Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre and The Land Between are all cooperating for common goals. Now too, Curve Lake Cultural Centre and ESRI Canada have become partners to advance education for children by adopting essential Traditional Teachings and by using digital mapping systems in schools.
The Land Between is a land of hope for wildlife and for our future wellbeing in Ontario. The Turtle Guardians program has been developed to give hope to kids.
We aim to engage kids and build leadership skills, reunite youth with nature, and inspire future generations.
The Turtle Guardian program is growing a dynamic portfolio; we are creating curriculum for all Ontario schools, advancing Citizen Science through the creation of new apps and species reporting systems, so they are accessible and fun to use. We have launched four levels of guardianship with a host of training opportunities, workshops, science, resources, and chances to volunteer and get involved for those that have enrolled as guardians. All of these actions will help the recovery of the species, and will help future generations too. We’ve already sent teams of students out to assess the more than 1000 potential turtle tunnel sites that we have mapped across the region, and we are testing new materials to install along culverts to direct turtles under roads.
Also, we are working towards establishing a Turtle Guardian Headquarters! This new centre in Haliburton is to be located at the local hatchery/ outdoors association, and will be a place where families, adults, and kids can come to learn about turtles. You will be able to visit our teaching turtles that have been adopted by the Trauma Centre as they are unable be returned to the wild. People can also learn all kinds of fun facts about fish, wildlife, lakes, wetlands and more.
We have been able, for the first time since our official inception as a NGO in 2011, to hire wonderful staff and contractors to help us advance our work! Welcome Victoria, Kristyn, Kendra, Kevin, and Luke!
This year also started with a bang because our first annual turtle walks were held at four locations across central and western TLB, in Haliburton, Bracebridge, Peterborough, and Bancroft. Here, during the flowering moon in early June, we had 200 people come out to stand up for wildlife and give back to nature. The OPP donated chaperoning for the events, and kids made their own signs and held them high during the walk; some yelling at traffic “no more turtle soup!” and “stop killing turtles”. People who walked with us also raised pledges to support our tunnel and trauma campaign (where 50% of funds raised support prevention: tunnel assessments and installation, and 50% support cure: treatment for injured turtles at the trauma centre in Peterborough). We had local sponsors support the cause too. More than $6000.00 was raised in this first year! A big thank you to those that came out and gave support!!!
Each year of the turtle walk will have a theme. This year was the year of the disco turtle. Many individuals wore clothing to mimic turtles and from the disco era! Next year, 2019, we will extend the walks to include locations in Fenelon Falls, Lindsay, and more, and the theme of 2019 will be Tartan turtle! Please join in to support this cause. It’s easy and fun to participate. The turtle walks are a way to take action locally that has a provincial impact, and these simple gestures impact and influence future generations too. Check out www.turtleguardians.ca and www.turtlewalk.ca
This year also saw advancements in our Design Your Own Shoreline Garden workshops. We have been offering these workshops for landowners since 2014, however this year was by far the most popular. We taught 122 landowners how to use native plants to create a beautiful and functional shoreline garden that will support lake health and water quality, deter nuisance geese, attract pollinators and songbirds, and also maintain access and views of the lake. We helped landowners on-site to install gardens at eight shorelines. Each year we search for funding and sponsors to support our outreach events. The program this year was supported by the Great Lakes Guardian Fund. Visit www.shorelinegardens.ca for workshop details and an online YouTube video that you can watch to learn how to naturalize your shore!
With over 2400 lakes in the region, and with many being headwaters, (that feed aquifers to the south and also surface waters of the Trent Severn Waterway and Lake Ontario), lake health is always one of our top priorities for research and stewardship. This year was an inaugural year for our partnership with Watersheds Canada in delivering our Blue Lakes Program.
The Blue Lakes program is a result of our work over the past 7 years with Sir Sandford Fleming College, to create a database that can analyze lake health on regional scales and at local scales. The database has married water quality data, with fisheries data and shoreline development data. It also houses data over years to analyze trends. First and foremost, the program is an eco-label, which is a standard of excellence in stewardship, that is given to lake associations that undertake specific lake-wide stewardship practices.
But the program also then offers lake associations access to the data through an agile and live app and web portal, so that lake stewards and lakeshore owners can monitor, report, and see what is happening on the
ir lakes- all in the palm of their hand! Thanks again, to the Ontario Trillium Foundation! We will be piloting this program over this winter and into next summer, to test its effectiveness. See www.bluelakes.ca
And as always, we are working to advance capacity, natural and cultural conservation and the social good through many additional discrete collaborative projects across the region. Some upcoming additions and new resources we are bringing to you include this year’s Knowledge Circles which will be held in late January/early February. This is the second year of this project that brings together landowners and individuals to share their first hand observations, knowledge and felt-experience of the changes on the land and in their communities. People come together in a traditional forum; the talking circle. Also coming soon is our new Land Stories App! This is a cultural database and tourism app that highlights First Nation and early European key sites across the region. It is a great way to learn about the land and experience the vitality of our collective history.
The Land Between is cottage country’s conservation organization, and we take our role and responsibility seriously. We run entirely on grants and gifts. We are non-government and do not receive any ongoing government support. We are grassroots and represent the common good and the land base. We also keep our overhead and administration costs under 10%. With limited budgets and yet a high volume of work, we have been able to keep costs low because, as a co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, I have donated office space and utilities but also I have donated my time for the past 7 years at a value between 25%-50% of my income. I have also extended advances from my pay for peripheral legal and consulting fees where they are not part of a project work plan. I have done this because I strongly believe our work is vital and necessary for our collective health and future wellbeing- and because it is work that is meaningful and therefore rewarding. Beyond my dedication, The Land Between is also very lucky to have a very focused and prudent governing Council (Board of Directors), most, who have been with the organization since its early days as a discrete program in 2006. The Council have been invaluable advisors and supporters in helping the charity grow. Together, it is our conviction that the world needs examples of selfless leadership, giving and community support – and today, more than ever, we need these examples and this kind of energy in order to fill the growing gaps in our society. As we work to support a healthy future in the region and for Ontario, in all that we do, we acknowledge and respect those innocent ones that cannot voice their own will and desires; our children and wildlife.
Help us make an impact! Please consider assisting us in our efforts. We need support for rent, hydro and food for the teaching turtles at our new Turtle Guardian Headquarters. Consider supporting our work to create curriculum and deliver programs for children through the new Turtle Guardians program. Donating to our turtle tunnels and trauma campaign directly helps turtles. Sponsoring a shoreline or conservation workshop, presentation, or a program also helps us reach our goals. Consider a becoming a monthly donor or leaving a legacy gift to your region’s own charity. And remember, with any donation over $50, you will receive a custom gift from TLB!
Thank you and may 2019 bring you many blessings. Happy new year!
Yours in conservation,
Leora Berman, Cofounder and COO
And on behalf of The Land Between Council and Staff
Stay in touch through:
Our newsletter by registering at www.thelandbetween.ca
Instagram @LandBetweenCharity and @turtleguardians
Become a Turtle Guardian at www.turtleguardians.ca
or simply share your turtle-y cool insights and observations at www.turtlestories.ca