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Nature: Explore IT! Workshop Series

Posted on December 1, 2016

Bridging Nature Appreciation and Technological Literacy

Society is increasingly reliant on information technology (IT) in our everyday lives. While some embrace these advances, others find themselves struggling to keep up with rapidly-evolving technology. Our new, four-part Nature: Explore IT! workshop series will familiarize you with the technology and capabilities of mobile devices (phones and tablets), using examples that build on an overarching theme of exploring nature using IT.

The Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre is excited to be teaming up with Debbie Fitzerman of DFC International Computing Inc. to translate IT lingo into language everyone can understand. Along the way, we will explore how new technologies can not only enhance how we understand and interact with nature, but also how we can contribute scientific knowledge about the world around us.

Each two-hour workshop will build progressively closer to ensuring basic technological literacy for all participants, although sessions have also been designed to stand alone. Sign up for the first workshop, or for all of them; or, pick and choose the ones that best meet your needs and interests:

Participants are invited to share specific questions they may have related to each topic, and your questions will set the workshop agenda and guide our discussions. With a focus on teaching and learning IT basics in a relaxed and fun setting, and drawing upon the natural beauty of the Elbow Lake property, everyone will discover something new in Nature: Explore IT! 

QUBS Environmental Outreach is Growing!

Posted on May 6, 2016

Securing funding and personnel to support our environmental outreach programs has been an ongoing challenge for QUBS, more so as visitation to the Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre (ELEEC) continues to grow beyond the capabilities of its only full-time staff.  Things are changing, however:  With financial support from several independent sources, QUBS’ environmental outreach offerings and programs are set to expand significantly over the next several years.  Visit often, and check out our new self-use facilities and staff-led educational programs as they become available, or get involved as a volunteer with one of our projects.

Invasive Species Project

Last spring, on behalf of the Frontenac Stewardship Foundation (FSF), Elbow Lake Manager Carolyn Bonta accepted $7,430 from the Community Foundation for Kingston and Area to support invasive species eradication efforts across the broader landscape of the Frontenac Arch through 2016, building on last year’s efforts to enhance public education on this topic.  The Invasive Species project funds a project manager to work with trained volunteers to carry out invasive species management and outreach through hands-on work bees, educational programming for schools, and public events; it will also establish the Elbow Lake property as a demonstration site for invasive species management.

On April 10, we trained a team of volunteers in the safe handling and use of chainsaws at a day-long workshop instructed by members of the Ontario Woodlot Association.  The crew is now ready to take on invasive species eradication – including the safe management of trees infected by the Emerald Ash Borer – across the Frontenac Arch Natural Area.  Although the Elbow Lake property has remained relatively unscathed from invasive species infestation, there is still lots to be done:  From cutting seed heads off Phragmites, to pulling garlic mustard and periwinkle, cutting buckthorn and removing lilac, we would be grateful for all the hands we can get!

High School Outreach and Self-Guided Environmental Education

In January, the ELEEC was awarded $11,800 from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation (TD FEF) toward a 4-month, part-time Environmental Outreach Assistant position, as well as supporting educational materials and research equipment.  Partnering with FSF and Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), we pooled salary dollars to hire Jordan Bell, a Master of Resource & Environmental Management program graduate, to lead the Invasive Species project, assist with QUBS’ high school outreach programs, and assist with land stewardship for NCC.  Sofie Hemprich, our Outreach & Stewardship Intern, will lead the development of two TD-funded self-guided exploration stations at the ELEEC: One on beaver pond ecology at the Red Trail footbridge, and another on identifying native coniferous trees. We are also looking forward to purchasing a digital microscope, along with the necessary audio-visual equipment to project its images to our visiting secondary students this fall.   TD FEF previously funded our Educational Trails Project at ELEEC, including the Elbow Lake Trail Guide interpretive app developed by David Lougheed in 2014; the current project brings David back this summer to update the app with new information and more interpretive stations to keep you abreast of the latest research, natural history discoveries and unique characteristics of the Elbow Lake property. 

New Partnerships for QUBS Outreach

The greatest positive impacts to QUBS outreach will arise through an upcoming four-year Outreach & Teaching Coordinator position, funded primarily by the Lawson Foundation, with support from Queen’s University.  This full-time staff will lead QUBS outreach, with significant emphasis on broadening the geographic and demographic reach of our programs by increasing opportunities for youth, primarily low income or underprivileged citizens, offering low cost environmental education to new Canadians and immigrant families, partnering with Aboriginal groups to incorporate traditional ecological knowledge, and expand our popular Eco-Adventure Camp.  Exciting times are upon us for sure!

1st Annual Frontenac Christmas Bird Count a Success!

Posted on December 29, 2015

On Saturday, December 19, five teams consisting of birders and general outdoor enthusiasts spread out across a 45,000 ha area centred north of the nearby village of Sydenham to celebrate our local avian diversity by counting birds.  Here at Elbow Lake, on the eastern end of the survey area, two families participated in the first annual Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4K) workshop and an additional three volunteers walked the trails and grounds in search of birds to count.

Four young participants in CBC4K, ranging in age from about 5 to 12 years, enjoyed a short indoor presentation on local bird identification and observation skills, followed by a 2.5 km hike of the Red Trail loop in mild, sunny weather.  Each member of the “Woody Woodpeckers” team fell comfortably into their preferred role – from trailblazer, to observers, to data scribe – and their hour of search effort was rewarded with a whopping 39 birds counted!  These included:

ü 12 Mallard:  Our most recognizable member of the “dabbling” ducks – those that feed by tipping their heads down into shallow water – these flew overhead in a single flock, circling around for a second pass that allowed surveyors to count them.

ü Four (4) Hooded Mergansers:  Some of the smallest local representatives from the “diving duck” group, these ducks feed almost exclusively on fish that they catch with their serrated bills.

ü An additional six unidentified species of duck.

ü One Hairy Woodpecker:  This species can be distinguished from the incredibly similar, but generally smaller, Downy Woodpeckers by their larger, thicker beaks.

ü Nine (9) Black-capped Chickadees that gave the group pause to consider: Which of these charismatic little individuals are following along with us on the hike, and which are new birds to be counted?

ü Three (3) White-breasted Nuthatches: Similarly small black-capped like a chickadee, this deciduous forest resident lacks a black bib but is most easily distinguished by its behaviour of creeping downward along tree trunks and limbs.

ü An additional four unidentified species of perching birds or “passerines”.

The post-survey wrap-up over hot chocolate and candy canes was a hit with the Woody Woodpeckers!  Parents also appreciated the workshop as an opportunity to escape the Christmas chaos and get the family outdoors for some fresh air and exercise.

Photo by Laurie Swinton.

Photo by Laurie Swinton.

Photo by Laurie Swinton.

Thank you to Laurie Swinton for sharing such lovely photos of the young birders on their count!

Systematic counts of the Elbow Lake property, which are recorded as part of the official Frontenac Christmas Bird Count, included coverage of the Red Trail, Green Trail, waterfront and facility area, as well as the main laneway out to North Shore Road.  Thank you to ELEEC staff Joanna, and volunteers Krista, Nick and Mike for counting “our” birds!  These surveys added Ring-necked Duck, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Common Raven, American Robin, American Goldfinch, Dark-eyed Junco and Ruffed Grouse to the species list.  Full count results from the official Frontenac Christmas Bird Count and other insights of the day are summarized separately in a short report.

Unfortunately, the Elbow Lake counts did not capture a few other species noted on the property in the days leading up to and following the official count date: Brown Creeper, American Tree Sparrow and Bald Eagle.  Maybe next year!

For more information on Christmas Bird Counts, including the Frontenac CBC, please visit Bird Studies Canada's website.

New Christmas Bird Count for Frontenac Includes the Elbow Lake Property!

Posted on December 6, 2015

Winter birds of the Elbow Lake property will now be counted as part of a new Christmas Bird Count (CBC) circle for the Frontenac area.  Novice and experienced bird enthusiasts alike are invited to participate in the Frontenac CBC on Saturday, December 19, to help monitor and conserve North America’s birds!  Concurrent with the official count, the ELEEC is presenting two Christmas Bird Count for Kids workshops for families with young children.

The CBC is the longest-running Citizen Science program in the world, promoting conservation and providing valuable data on winter bird populations since Christmas Day of 1900.  To date, over 200 peer-reviewed articles have resulted from analysis done with CBC data, including recent ground-breaking documentation that 314 species of North American birds are threatened by global warming.  In Canada, the CBC is coordinated by Bird Studies Canada, and includes hundreds of count sites from coast to coast.

With its centre over Deline Lake, the 24-kilometre wide Frontenac CBC count site stretches from the Elbow Lake property in the east to Verona in the west.  Unique among other CBC counts in the area is the relatively high proportion of protected natural areas within the Frontenac circle, which also includes Frontenac Provincial Park, Gould Lake Conservation Area, several properties owned by Nature Conservancy of Canada and a nature reserve owned by the Kingston Field Naturalists.

Volunteer field observers are needed to cover portions of the count circle – particularly the area surrounding the Elbow Lake property: North Shore Road, Leland Road and Opinicon Road – counting all the birds they find.  The ELEEC is also looking for experienced birders to share their expertise at our Christmas Bird Count for Kids workshops.  Contact the Frontenac CBC coordinators, Carolyn Bonta / Michael Johnson, at 613-353-7968 or bonta.johnson@sympatico.ca if you are able to assist.

Employment Opportunity: Outreach Assistant - Elbow Lake

Posted on September 2, 2015

The Queen's University Biological Station is now accepting applications for an Outreach Assistant to lead all outreach activities associated with the Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre this fall.

Details on this part-time, three month contract are outlined in the Outreach Assistant - Elbow Lake position description.  Deadline to apply is 4:00 pm on Friday, September 11, 2015. 

This position is generously funded by a Community Grant from the Community Foundation for Kingston and Area.

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Invasive Species Community Seminar a Huge Success!

Posted on August 30, 2015

The Pavilion was packed as 42 participants representing lake associations, local environmental organizations, landowners and concerned citizens attended an Invasive Species Community Seminar, co-hosted by QUBS and the Frontenac Stewardship Foundation, with funding from the Community Foundation for Kingston and Area.

A series of five presentations served as an introduction to the who's and what's of invasive species and their management in Ontario:  From the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry's role in preventing new invasions, to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters' efforts for early detection and public education, seminar participants were provided an overview of provincial efforts to deal with invasive species.  Examples of current research at Queen's University -- including studies taking place right here on QUBS properties -- demonstrated how results impact government policy and management practices.  Ducks Unlimited presented a case study on their rapid response to European Water Chestnut, while Nature Conservancy of Canada shared ongoing efforts to eradicate, control or monitor established invasives on their properties within the Frontenac Arch Natural Area.

 

An outdoor tour of the Elbow Lake property allowed NCC and Queen's University to share successes, challenges and failures regarding invasive species management efforts on-site.  The tour emphasized invasive species identification and Citizen Science initiatives for reporting invasions, and also allowed plenty of time for participants to ask direct questions of the experts on species of particular interest. 

 

Feedback from this event was overwhelmingly positive!  Unfortunately, several additional interested citizens had to be turned away, but we do hope to post PDF documents of the day's presentations on the ELEEC website shortly.

The threat of invasive species is not one that is going to resolve itself anytime soon... With additional funding from the CFK&A, the Frontenac Stewardship Foundation plans to address on-the-ground management action through a series of events and workshops in 2016.  Stay tuned!

QUBS 70th Anniversary Open House this Sunday, June 28!

Posted on June 26, 2015

Everyone is welcome to attend the Queen's University Biological Station Open House, to be held at our Opinicon campus this Sunday June 28th from noon to 3 pm.  This year, QUBS celebrates its 70th anniversary! We will have wonderful interactive displays from students and faculty, tours of the facilities, and snacks and refreshments. At 12:30 we will celebrate the grand opening of the Jessie Deslauriers Centre for Biology with our new Jack Hambleton Library and the new digs for the Fowler Herbarium.

Open House invite

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Community Foundation Grants Awarded for ELEEC Outreach

Posted on May 14, 2015

The Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre will move closer to its mandate of providing environmental education to the community, thanks to two grants awarded by the Community Foundation for Kingston and Area.

This fall, with $4,000 from the Douglas Branton Fell Memorial Fund, the ELEEC will hire a part-time Environmental Outreach Assistant to broaden our high school program offerings with year-round workshops, strengthen links with the high school curriculum, and expand the principles of biodiversity conservation to other disciplines. Our application for this award was supported, in principle, by the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board and the Limestone District School Board.

On behalf of the Frontenac Stewardship Foundation, ELEEC staff was pleased to accept $7,430 toward combating invasive alien species by establishing a demonstration site on the Elbow Lake property.  Through signage, printed materials, and hands-on workshops and training that use and test current Best Management Practices for control, we hope to inform and empower members of the community to identify, report and help eradicate new incursions of invasive species.  Our partners in conservation, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, will co-lead this initiative.

Programs offered at the ELEEC promote a strong stewardship ethic, contributing to better-informed community members and future leaders.  Many thanks to the CFKA for the funding support.

2015 Grant Award Recipients.  Carolyn Bonta, ELEEC Manager, second from right.
2015 Grant Award Recipients. Carolyn Bonta, ELEEC Manager, second from right.

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Check out the ELEEC on Twitter!

Posted on April 11, 2015

The Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre is now on Twitter!  Check out http://www.twitter.com/@ElbowLakeEEC for up-to-date notification of upcoming programs and events, as well as current news items and interesting happenings at your environmental education centre.

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2015 QUBS Calendars Now Available!

Posted on November 5, 2014

Enjoy the wildlife, plants, evidence of early settlement, fish, insects and landscape scenery of QUBS, as captured through the photographic lenses of staff, faculty and students.  The 2015 QUBS calendar is now available, and it makes a great Christmas gift!  Each calendar costs $20, with proceeds supporting QUBS -- including outreach at ELEEC.