Editor’s note: If you haven’t met “Flo” yet, this superhero spent the summer visiting Cowichan communities, helping us face the severe drought and water restrictions, and interviewing local watershed heroes about their solutions. Cowichan Watershed Board summer student Lauren Frost wraps up her reports on Flo’s conversations this week.
Name: Genevieve Singleton
Occupation/Volunteer Roles: Nature Interpreter; co-chair, Cowichan Watershed Stewardship Roundtable; coordinator, Cowichan Valley Docents; co-chair, Eves Provincial Park, Honeymoon Bay and Mt. Tzouhalem Ecological Reserves Warden
Why Flo likes her: Unabashed Nature Lover
Flo: Nice to meet you Genevieve! I have heard about your inspiring work as a watershed steward and educator. What keeps you so motivated?
Genevieve: Hi Flo! I would say it is my deep love for nature and wanting a better world for my husband’s and my four children and all of us. As a child, my parents introduced me to my mentor, Freeman King, through the Victoria Natural History Junior Naturalists. That meeting sparked a lifelong passion, and a 45-year career as a nature interpreter in BC Parks and other natural areas.
Flo: I love that you help children connect with nature. Can you tell me more about that?
Genevieve: With the help of the amazing Cowichan Valley Docents (we are always looking for new docents!) and the support of School District 79, BC Parks, Girl Guides of Canada, Somenos Marsh Society, Cowichan Land Trust and others, we have engaged many children of the Valley in nature walks. Immersing children in nature is so important. It is my dream that every child in the Valley is taken out for a least a few guided nature walks.
Flo: Amazing! Now tell me about the Cowichan Stewardship Roundtable.
Genevieve: Formed in 2002, the Roundtable is an open and collaborative group of stewardship organizations, businesses, industry, government and individuals focused on protecting our water and watersheds, now and for generations to come. We meet monthly and we share a common understanding: the health of watersheds is the key to the health of our families, businesses and environment. I currently have the honour of co-chairing with Parker Jefferson and I am pleased to share my facilitation and consensus building skills with the Roundtable.
Flo: You have been immersed in watershed stewardship all your adult life. From your perspective, what is the most important achievement we’ve made over the past 20 years, and what is the most important work that has not yet been done?
Genevieve: Our stewardship community created the excellent Cowichan Basin Water Management Plan, which the Roundtable and other groups use as a mission statement. That is a significant accomplishment. Our current work to raise the weir is very important.
What is worrisome, I think, is the lack of nature education for both children and adults in these days of climate change.
Children are not outdoors enough; they are spending a great deal of times indoors in the virtual world.
Flo: If you could ask every Cowichan region resident to do one thing for our watershed, what would it be?
Genevieve: Gather up the children you know and get them outdoors. Connect them and yourself with nature.
Flo: Any closing thoughts?
Genevieve: Only by knowing nature can you love it and only by loving nature can you care for it.