You’re Invited!

Heather Cray is a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo in the Department of Environment and Resource Studies, a restoration ecologist and a volunteer with rare.

My name is Heather, and I’d like to invite you to this year’s Walk & Run for rare! I have been a team captain for this event the last three years, and each year has been better than the last. Supporting local conservation? Check. Walk, run, jog, stroll or pace along a 5 km route through a gorgeous property? Check. Awesome BBQ and live music at the end? Double check.

As a volunteer with the rare Charitable Research Reserve, I’ve been involved in community clean-ups, the Every Child Outdoors (ECO) program, the annual BioBlitz, and doing science talks. I also just plain love that there is a  900+ acre urban land trust, nature reserve and environmental institute in the heart of Waterloo Region that I can visit year-round, free of charge. There are 24 different habitat types at rare – tallgrass prairie, old growth forest, cliffs and alvars, wetlands…these are just a few examples. The reserve is a beautiful and culturally significant landscape, rich in biodiversity and home to more than 3,300 species, 30 of which are considered at risk. Having this a stone’s throw away is such a privilege, and I’m always eager to share this jewel with friends old and new.

This year, the proceeds from the 2017 Walk & Run for rare event will support Turn the Map Green, a grassroots effort to ensure the protection of their environmentally sensitive lands now and forever. If you have never been to visit rare, the Walk & Run is a perfect introduction. We start at Riverbluffs Park in Cambridge, and together we will make our way through wooded trails to the rare ECO Centre and end with a community BBQ and prizes. There are awesome interpretive stops set up along the way, and this year there will also be a digital treasure hunt and family-friendly events such as face painting waiting for you at the end! For our four legged friends, dogs are welcome on at least one route, and there are stroller-friendly trails as well. That being said, in the three years I’ve participated in this event, I have been passed by at least one all-terrain stroller on the tough trails every year. There are options!

Whether you’re looking for a corporate team building experience, a family outing or just an opportunity to get outside and have fun, I’d love to see you there! This year we’re set for Sunday, September 24 with a start time of 10:00 a.m. at Riverbluffs Park, Cambridge. The event price is $10 which includes rare swag, lunch and entertainment, and we hope that you’ll consider helping us raise funds to Turn the Map Green – symbolically adopting a piece of the property for yourself or in honour of someone for as little as $2 per square meter. Every square meter counts, especially to butterflies and bumble bees! And the best part is, even if you can’t make it out on the day, your donation to a team is a symbolic adoption and you get a certificate describing the space you saved.

I also want to mention the book sale – every year rare sorts through its amazing collection of field guides and nature books, and this year I have been let loose on the stock to select a great array of books for sale between $1 and $10. I have found some rare treasures there and I hope that you do, too!

You are welcome to join any team you like (or start your own!). To join my team, sign in to and click on “UW and Friends.” We’re a small group of friendly ecology students doing great research on the property and we’d be happy to talk your ear off about bees, butterflies, prairie plants, benthic invertebrates, etc., or just share a burger and pop.

Help Turn the Map Green for monarch butterflies, wood frogs, bank swallows, eastern bumble bees and all the other species that call rare home by joining the Walk & fun Run for rare on Sunday, September 24. Visit for more details and to register today!

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