Whistler Naturalists to elect new executive 

Club ready to stand on its own, says former president

After three years, Whistler Naturalists founder Bob Brett is stepping down as president of the organization after the club’s annual general meeting on Nov. 28. He says he will remain actively involved with the club as a director, specifically in continuing to help organize the Naturalists’ popular speaker series.

"One of my thoughts when starting out is that I wanted to get (the club) to the point where we had enough momentum to keep going," said Brett. "We started it, and we stayed with it for a while, but now we’re pretty sure it’s going to live without us."

According to Brett, the organization currently has more than 150 members. In addition, "people from Whistler are coming out to more and more events, like the speaker series," he said.

Other directors of the club’s executive, which includes the vice-president, treasurer and secretary, are also stepping down. Several members of the club have indicated that they are interested in filling these positions.

"There’s interest in coming onto the board from a number of really good people, which is a good sign. And after having the same people on the board for years on end, it’s really useful to have new blood that’s keen, that has ideas. Every time the organization changes, it gets better," said Brett.

The Naturalists were formed almost four years ago when members of AWARE decided there was a need for another nature-based group in town for people who were less political and more into enjoying nature.

"Just in the last year, people have been looking more to the naturalists for an entertainment and education experience," said Brett.

The Naturalists’ speaker series is getting between 120 and 150 people out to events. Comparatively, the Vancouver Natural History Society, the largest naturalist club in B.C., only gets about 80 people out to events.

"It’s a pretty interesting demographic here that 150 people will come to hear Jack Souther talk about volcanoes, or John Nemy talk about astronomy," said Brett.

Another popular event this year was a nature photography exhibition featuring local photographers that the Naturalists hope to host on an annual basis.

In addition to contributing NatureSpeak articles to Pique Newsmagazine on a weekly basis, Naturalist members also hosted several well-attended nature walks and bird walks during the summer months. The club plans to expand and diversify the types of outdoor programs offered through the club in the future.

Another worthwhile focus for the club, says Brett, is to get more kids involved and attending club special presentations. Brett also sees the possibility of fostering other spin-off clubs, like John Nemy’s Astronomy Club, that focus on areas touched on by the Naturalists.

"There are all sorts of things we could tap into, but we haven’t done yet. Having a new board will be challenging, but I’m convinced they’ll be able to do a lot of the things that I wasn’t able to," said Brett.

The Whistler Naturalists annual general meeting takes place at Millennium Place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 28 at Millennium Place. It will be followed by a social at 7 p.m., and a special presentation by ecologist Andy MacKinnon on Our Coastal Rainforests: More Than Just Trees, at 7:30 p.m.

It costs $15 to become a member of the Whistler Naturalists, which includes your membership in the Federation of B.C. Naturalists, as well as free access and lower prices for special club events.

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