Children’s Forest Youth Update Summer 2017

As the youth programming for The Children’s Forest slows down for the summer, I want to offer the community an update. It has been a fast paced, fun filled, deeply educational and rewarding year. We have had 20 plus youth participating weekly, and over 30 youth involved. The Youth Program is a completely volunteer run program offered to all youth, free of charge. This year we added a 2nd hour to the Friday gatherings which allowed us to include the younger youth.

The monthly walk into the Children’s Forest is a real highlight. Our youth learn so much from being in the forest – deep ecology; biology; Latin names of plant and animal species; counting rings on old growth trees; documenting their finds; the art of haikus; use of a compass; and a sense of community created by the togetherness of being in a forest. The youth are hardcore and swim every month, even in January when they had to crack the ice first!

The Bio-Blitz in April was amazingly attended. With many mentors, our youth learned heaps while camping out. Big thanks to Sabina Mense for organizing this special event!

From October, 2016 – June 2017 Connie Brill, Christine Robinson, Krista Smyth, Norleen Lillico and Ashe Biela have held down the weekly theatre and arts program. Projects over this period included: making endangered species prayer flags to sell at the Christmas market; staging and performing a music collage for Lip Sync; a sleep-over pizza party/workshop; writing, rehearsing and performing a play; lots of cool art with some slated for exhibition at the Schoolhouse Art Gallery;   playing and learning new leadership and interactive games.  It’s become a real leadership program centering around environment, biology, arts, and supporting one another. In many ways we just stand back and hold the space for the youth to find their strengths and shine.

And what a shiny group they are. Since early January we have been working on the play Without One – None, a murder mystery centred around the disappearance of an eco-system. In May, the troupe of 22 youth performed Without One – None at schools on Quadra Island and Campbell River. The feedback received was how confident, strong, and engaged our youth are. And it’s true.  With the many mentors who step in and offer their time, and with the loving encouragement from the community, our youth really are raised by the village. It feels like an honor to send out into the world such passionate, intelligent young people.

There have been so many people who have stepped up to help support the program this year, to name a few…..Thanks to Connie Brill, Christine Robinson, Sabina Mense, and Krista Smith who hold down the vision and continue to volunteer hundreds of hours out of love for the forest and the youth. Shout out to Dan Peters who always comes to our rescue last minute, to everyone out at Linnaea Farm who rents us the space at a very generous rate and who are flexible with the (often times) chaos of this project (herding 22 kids!), thanks to the WCC board for allowing us use of the Gorge hall, Colin Funk for your background support, the Children’s Forest Board members who are working so diligently in the background to protect this special place, thanks to all the parents who commit to getting their kids to us on time, and the biggest thanks goes to all the youth who stand tall, who have bravely pushed themselves to their limits, who have worked so hard and show such passion for our future and for all that lives but has no voice. I feel so hopeful knowing what leaders and beauties we are sending out into the world!

The weekly theater and arts programming takes a break for the summer, but we plan to re-group next fall. All youth are invited to join and to bring ideas of what they would like to do in the next year. We are open to facilitating just about anything (as long as it fits into our mission statement of buying and protecting The Children’s Forest!) Current ideas circulating are: touring Vancouver Island with Without One – None; making a documentary; more hands on biology stuff; more art.

And finally, I would like to invite one and all to see our show Imagine, A Forest in Trust to the Children located at the Old Schoolhouse Gallery July 28- August 6. Krista Smith is coordinating this show and has put in lots of energy working alongside the youth for this project.  We hope to see you then.

In Trust to the Children and the Forest,
Ashe Biela
(youth director for The Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island)

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A Forest Full of Thanks…

… to everyone who contributed to, participated in, and supported BioBlitz 2017!


What an amazing weekend we had in the northern wilds of Cortes Island! We had some truly WILD moments: rooting and pooting for insects, braving a full-on sou’easter with a beach seine and underwater camera, bioluminescence Avatar style, Blitz Bluff bryophyte crawl and so much more!

Rachel Carson wrote: “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder… he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in…”

Bioblitz 2017 kept the wonder alive…

Professional mentors in entomology, fisheries and bryology, together with educators/ naturalists in the arts & sciences, youth leaders and parents, took Cortes youth by the hand and introduced them to the wonders of the natural world.

We are inspiring a whole new generation to be curious, engaged and mindful of the place we call home…

Imagine… a forest in trust to the children!

BioBlitz 2017 was sponsored by the Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Society/FTCCIS.

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BioBlitz Benefit Success – Our Thanks!

The Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Society would like to extend sincere thanks to all community members who came out to support our recent BioBlitz Benefit; thank you!

64 dinners were served and the stars of the evening were the Cortes youth who cooked and served them with zeal! A forest full of thanks to: Seren, Molina, Nadia, Lily, Seamus, Kaysha, Bella, Josh, Lilly, Sophia, Ezra, Angus, Katie, Laara and Nola!We love you!

There’s always someone who spearheads an event – our heartfelt thanks to Lillian Noland, who ran with the lion’s share of the work from inception to the final sweep!

Solid thanks to the rock solid kitchen support from Mary Lavelle, Sujon, Kirsten, Billie, Lucky & Belle! And those oh sooooooo many dishes; sudsy thanks to Andrew, Caleb, Mary Clare and Bill!

Stellar thanks to the Floathouse Restaurant staff, for the serious kitchen support and Gorge Harbour Marina for their -over the top- generous food donations!

And then there was the silent auction… sincere thanks to all bidders and our donors: Verdiblue, Brilliant by the Bay B/B, Bill Wheeler, Amy Newsom Design, Andy Ellingsen, Linnaea Farm and TwinComm! Special thanks to Jeramie for making the auction happen!

Gorge Hall was filled with music & dancing until late evening and our foot-stomping thanks go to Kesu with Luke & Robbie Noland and Roadside Rattle! Scotty was on sound… thanks Scotty!

Smilin’ Tom packed away the tables & chairs with us at the end of the evening; thanks Tom!

Humble thanks to all the unseen, voluntary, quietly offered little extras that folks spontaneously contributed to make it all work!

Last but by no means least, final thanks to the Whaletown Community Club and good old Gorge Hall… for holding the space!

This great community evening has successfully raised the funds to bring professional natural history expertise to our upcoming 2017 BioBlitz in the Children’s Forest; yahoooooooooo!
so… get ready to BioBlitz, April 28, 29, 30!!!!

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Video: Children’s Forest Youth at the CRTZ Winter Lip Sync!

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Stand Up For the Forest — Children’s Forest Music Video!

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Video: Carrington Bay + James Creek Watershed aerial footage

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Video: Cortes Forest Walk, March 6th 2016

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Children’s Forest Theatre performs The Lorax at Seafest

The Children’s Forest youth theatre troupe performed The Lorax at the Cortes SeaFest festival at the Gorge Harbour on May 21st. Under the direction of FTCCIS board member Connie Brill, the youth presented a well-polished interpretation of Dr. Seuss’s classic ecological tale for an enthusiastic audience of festival goers.

lorax4 lorax1 lorax2 lorax3




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Children’s Forest BioBlitz 2016


Nola & Monadenia snail

Nola & Monadenia snail

FTCCIS sponsored the first ever Children’s Forest BioBlitz from noon April 16 to noon April 17, 2016. Cortes youth hosted the event, which was attended by just over 70 people; 35 youth & 20 accompanying parents camping overnight at Carrington Bay Park campsite, Saturday, April 16.

Participating naturalists included:
Frank Boas / retired UBC Bryologist
Conrad Dombrowski / Independent fungal studies
Purnima Govindarajulu / MOE Provincial Small Mammals Specialist & Herpetologist
Nancy & Ray Kendall and Peter Elliott/ CIMAS Bird International field staff
Liz Richardson/ Independent vascular plant studies
Max Thaysen/ Cortes Streamkeepers

The 2016 BioBlitz made significant contributions to faunal and floral lists for Cortes Island forestlands. Even more significant are the impressions left with the 35 Cortes youth who participated in the BioBlitz.

Walt Whitman wrote…

There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day,
Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.

To respectfully paraphrase Whitman’s subsequent lines…

The forest snail became part of this child,
And moss and white and red mushroom caps, and rough-skinned newts,
and the song of the Pacific wren,
And the flying squirrels and the forest’s glorious green colours,
and the cutthroat trout and the alligator lizard…

Sincere thanks to everyone who participated in this fabulously successful celebration of Cortes forestlands!

For more images of the BioBlitz, see the 2016 BioBlitz gallery.


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Get Ready to BioBlitz! – Final Schedule

The 24 hour survey of the Children’s Forest; 1200 pm April 16 – 1200 pm April 17, 2016 is coming closer!!! Everyone is welcome to join in this celebration of our forest lands!!

Our team of talented Cortes naturalists are especially excited to be welcoming off-island guests: Frank Boas and Purnima Govindarajulu. Meet them at the BioBlitz Presenter’s Evening, Friday, April 15 at 7:30 pm at Gorge Hall.

Frank Boas resides, retired… on Quadra Island and is one of the best moss men in the province of BC. Some of you may have met Frank at our Whaletown Commons BioBlitz a few years back and you will be able to attest to the energy of… Moss Mania, the cloud of swirling green energy that Frank generates!!! Spend a walk with Frank this weekend and you will never look at a moss the same way again!!!

Purnima Govindarajulu, from Victoria is the provincial small mammals & herpetofauna specialist… yup, that’s a mouthful!!! Herps are amphibians and reptiles, and the small mammals Purnima is most passionate about are…bats!!! Purnima will be speaking, at our Presenters Evening, about the incredible challenges we face today in conserving populations of these animals in the face of rapidly expanding global diseases. This is a public talk and we welcome all members of the Cortes community to come out and meet Purnima, who is interested in having Cortes Island join the BC Bat Monitoring Program, which she co-ordinates for the Ministry of Environment.

So here it is… the naturalist schedule for this weekend’s BioBlitz….
Please be reminded that all guided walks (unless indicated otherwise) begin & end at our BioBlitz portal, which is an ~40’ walk in from the trailhead on Carrington Bay Road. The trailhead well signed with parking available.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

12:00 pm – Join Frank Boas for… Moss Mania; identification and natural history of local moss (and some liverwort) species; bring your magnifying lenses.
Liz Richardson for… Plant Plethora; identification and natural history of our local vascular plant species; bring your Plants of Coastal BC reference book.

2:00 pm – Join Max Thaysen, for… Seriously Salmon; Cortes Streamkeepers work in James Creek; meet our resident cutthroat trout.
Conrad Dombrowski for… Mushrooms in a Magic Meadow; identification of our local fungal species and the natural history of mycorrhizae; everywhere beneath your feet!

4:00 pm – Join Purnima Govindarajulu for… Amphibia Ambles; walk wetlands in search of amphibian egg masses for identification of species present and learn some of their natural history; gumboots a good idea!

Dinner Break – at which time the rest of the forest animals come out to watch the mammals gathered at the campsite… eat!

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm – Join Purnima Govindarajulu for…the Crepuscular Hours; the time when bats, owls and flying squirrels are in their element!!
Purnima will be working the air waves with an ultrasonic detector; bat species are identified by the frequency of their sounds… let’s discover who is flying!!
Northern flying squirrels are strictly nocturnal animals… so we will also be on the lookout for these “forest shadows” gliding through the canopy.
(*Note that this walk starts from Carrington Bay Park campsite at 7:00 pm.)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

12:00 am – Join Cortes youth on a midnight forest watch…“If you go out in the woods tonight… (*Note that this walk starts from Carrington Bay Park campsite.)

4:00 am– 6:00 am – Join Cortes youth for… The Dawn Chorus
(*Note that this walk starts from Carrington Bay Park campsite at 0400)

8:00 am – Join Nancy & Ray Kendall for… Bird Brains & other crazy things to do this early on a Sunday Morning! Identification of local birds by sight and sound. The forest is simply alive with returning bird species this fabulous month of spring!!! Join in!

10:00 am – Join Sabina Leader Mense for… A is for Alligator Lizards; we’re off to the high bluffs above Carrington Lagoon to prowl beneath the manzanita bushes for alligator lizards and other resident reptiles!

12:00 pm – Cortes Youth Close the Circle in the Children’s Forest… as we come to the end of our 24 hour survey


The Children’s Forest BioBlitz is hosted by Cortes youth and sponsored by the Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Society. Questions? Sabina 250 935 6467

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