Standing in the middle of a field, the sun is shining, birds are chirping and there’s a slight breeze causing the tall grasses to sway — this has been my summer. I have had the incredible experience of being an Ecological Monitoring Assistant at rare since May. With my contract ending, I have been reflecting on my summer. The focus of my employment has been butterfly monitoring; each week for 14 weeks I walked four different sections of the property, recording every butterfly that I observed.
Butterfly observations were low this year, so it was particularly exciting when I would encounter a flurry of butterflies! A particular afternoon in Sparrow Field comes to mind when all at once I encountered Monarchs, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, a Giant Swallowtail, a Striped Hairstreak and the lone Orange Sulphur I observed this monitoring season!
In addition to monitoring, I had the opportunity to attend ECO Camp each week to teach the kids about catching and identifying butterflies and other insects! There is a phenomenal community feel in the rare office, thus I have also had the opportunity to help with other projects and departments, including vegetation sampling, turtle hatchlings, insect sorting and goat care.
One of my favourite aspects of working at rare was attending various Pollinator Events including the Waterloo Public Library Pollinator Expo, the Bee City Pollinator Festival and the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory Outdoor Butterfly and Bug Hunt. These events gave me the opportunity to inform the public about rare and share my passion for the work done here!
As my employment with rare is ending, my involvement will not — I will continue to support and volunteer for rare! On Sunday, September 22nd I will be at the annual Walk & Run for rare. Funds raised are in support of rare’s Turn the Map Green campaign, which is a grassroots fundraising effort to protect rare’s first three properties. For every $2 donated, 1 square meter of the rare reserve is protected forever. You can even select which part of rare you would like to protect!
Click here to register for the Walk & Run for rare. Come out and join us for a walk on our beautiful trails, have fun, and help protect the land, intact in perpetuity!
As I look forward to what is next, I feel so fortunate for my experience at rare and believe the skills I have acquired this summer will help me in future endeavors.
By: Kristi Neufeld, rare Ecological Monitoring Assistant