Hello there and Boozhoo from the 2018 Fort Frances Ogimaa Binesiiyog Stewardship Youth Rangers!
We started a new project this year learning all about bats. First, we were instructed by Nathan Hopkins of the MNRF on how to construct a single-chamber bat house.
We built and painted 11 bat houses to hopefully put up at various locations throughout our district to help us learn more about our bat population.
After that, research crews from the University of Winnipeg-Willis Bat Lab, led by Emma Kunkel, gave us a presentation about bats and what research crews are doing to study species at risk bats in Northwestern Ontario.
We learned about what makes bats unique, their life cycles and how white-nosed syndrome is threatening these important insectivores.
Female bats typically have only one pup per year, meaning bats have very slow population growth rates.
The rangers pitched in to set up a full-sized mist net and learned about other types of equipment used to monitor, capture and collect important information about bats.
This research is supported by MNRF's Species at Risk Research Fund.
We also gained our Ontario Recreational Canoe and Kayak Association (ORCKA) Level 2 certification at Rice Bay.
We learned different canoe strokes and turning techniques.
We also learned how to carry our canoes in and out of the water, how to get back into a canoe from the water and how to safely canoe up to a dock.
Rangers also completed the required 400-metre swim test, which is part of the certification.
We visited the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre near Stratton where we learned about local Indigenous history and archeology.
We also helped to clean up the area by weeding unwanted plants from the grounds.
At our Elder's Guidance Day with Gilbert Smith of Naicatchewenin First Nation, we were fortunate enough to learn about Indigenous teachings, the importance of having respect for the land and how to introduce ourselves in Ojibway.
On our visit to the New Gold Mine Site, we were able to safely observe their daily 3 p.m. blast from their designated lookout area 500 metres away.
Earlier that day, we also planted 380 white spruce trees on a reclamation site to restore the natural habitat.
Tony Elders of Rainy River District Stewardship taught us how to collect information using handheld GPS units (Global Positioning Systems) to locate trees and record their species and size, measuring tree height and diameter.
We collected information on about 50 trees to be added to the database maintained by Rainy River District Stewardship and the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre.
We started in early July; our eight-week summer employment program allows us to work on natural resource management projects in and around Fort Frances.
We have two teams of six; each with four rangers, an assistant team lead and a team lead. We completed a number of training courses involving both classroom and hands-on learning to ensure we are healthy and safe at work this summer.
Operating since 2013 in Fort Frances, this program is possible thanks to a partnership between MNRF, Shooniyaa Wa-Biitong Training and Employment Centre and the United Native Friendship Centre in Fort Frances.
For more information on our ranger program, please refer to our program websites www.ontario.ca/page/stewardship-youth-ranger-program and www.facebook.com/ogimaabinesiiyog/