Naturalists seeking new members 

John Nemy, Carol Legate presentation to follow annual general meeting

The Whistler Naturalists Society is wrapping up another year next Thursday with their annual general meeting and now traditional multimedia presentation by local astronomer John Nemy.

The Naturalists are looking for a new president this year, as Kristina Swerhun, the current president, was accepted into a Masters Georgraphy program at the University of Victoria, and will be spending the next two years studying the effect of climate change on coastal B.C. mountains.

The position of president "is not that big a job if you have lots of help on the board," said Swerhun, "and we’re looking to have a really active board for next year.

"Last year the board was pretty small, but looking back we got a lot done. We need to keep doing the same things next year."

The organization is looking for more volunteer directors to assist returning directors with Naturalist activities.

In the past year the Naturalists have presented three speakers: Bob Brett on Whistler’s old trees, owl expert Doris Hausleitner, grizzly expert Fred Seiler, and astronomer John Nemy. They produced a two-day mushroom festival, a nature photo exhibition, nature walks through the spring and summer, and weekly Naturespeak columns in Pique.

Ongoing Naturalists projects supported under the Naturalists’ umbrella also include monthly bird walks, the annual Christmas Bird Count, the June Breeding Bird Survey, the Community Habitat Resources Project (CHiRP), participation in the Protected Areas Network (PAN) strategy, monitoring of Wedgemount and Overlord glaciers, and the Whitebark Pine Conservation Project on Blackcomb.

As outgoing president, Swerhun wrapped up her tenure by preparing for the 2005-06 season. She has already booked five expert speakers for next year:

Nov. 17 – John Nemy and Carol Legate of The Pacific Observatory: "Stargazing for Everyone and the Whistler World Ecocentre"

Jan. 19 – David Jones of Environment Canada weather office and CBC Radio, with local avalanche forecasters Anton Horvath and Tony Sittlinger: "Pineapples, Powder and Precipitation: Winter Weather in the Coast Range"

March 16 – Tony Hamilton, Black Bear Research Project: "Grizzly Bear Recovery Program for Southwest B.C."

April 21 – Dr. Steve Wilson: "Life on the Edge: British Columbia’s Mountain Goats"

May 18 – Ken Hewitt-White, astronomer: "Astronomy from the Hilltops"

There is no speaker for the month of February, when the Whistler Naturalists will host their fourth annual Naturalist Photo Show, which includes an amateur presentation and contest followed by presentations by local pro photographers.

"We’re doing a lot of great stuff, and the response is excellent but it would be nice to have some new blood and energy for this year," said Swerhun. "I would encourage everyone who takes an interest in nature to get involved, you meet a lot of great people and do a lot of things you might not ordinarily do. It’s not that big a commitment, especially if we get some more members on the board. Many hands make light work."

Some of the positions that are open include membership co-ordinator, a Naturespeak co-ordinator, volunteers to help with the speaker series, a correspondent with the Federation of B.C. Naturalists. The executive positions are also open, including the positions of president, vice president, secretary and treasurer.

The annual general meeting starts at 6 p.m. on Nov. 17 in the theatre at Millennium Place. The meeting will be followed by Nemy and Legate at 7 p.m. Admission is by donation.

Memberships to the Naturalists will also be available. The cost is $15 for individuals and $30 for couples and families.

Members will automatically be enrolled in the Federation of B.C. Naturalists, and will receive quarterly B.C. Naturalists magazines, and discounts to Naturalists activities like future speaker events, the slide show, and the mushroom festival.

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