By Julia Pepler
At Swim Drink Fish, we are on a mission to connect people to water. We know that when people are connected to their local waters, they are more likely to step forward and protect them. We seek to connect people of all walks of life to the waters that flow through their communities, have left an impact on their lives, and support complex ecosystems. As we reflect on our year of growth, we are humbled by the relationships we have built to achieve this goal.
This year, we engaged with over 800 volunteers, each of whom has given their time, energy, and passion, to ensure a future where we can all swim, drink, and fish in our local waters. In the early months of the year, we hosted our 12th Annual Fraser River Cleanup with Woodtone and saw more than 700 people from communities in the Lower Mainland join together to clean up the vulnerable banks of the Fraser River in Chilliwack. For the first year, we cleaned up less waste and debris than we anticipated, and we took this as a good sign. Years of collaboration with the community have helped prove that the Fraser River is a sacred water body that should be protected and respected. We look forward to our cleanup next spring, to see the familiar faces that have joined us annually for the last 12 years, as well as the new faces of those who have generously decided to lend their hands and give back to the Fraser River.
Volunteers at the 12th Annual Fraser River Cleanup, March 23, 2019
This summer, we also saw incredible engagement with our Vancouver Water Monitoring Program. We had groups of volunteers from LUSH, VOWSA (Vancouver Open Water Swim Association), BBTV, and many more, join us for a day of water monitoring in Vancouver’s False Creek. These volunteers were often participating in citizen science for the first time, joining our movement of more than 4 million people who want to be empowered to know and protect their local waters. Citizen scientists enable us to collect more data than would otherwise be possible. They give their precious time and energy to ensuring that Vancouverites have access to information about local waters, and have the tools to connect with their local waters.
Digital Content Coordinator, Julia Pepler (left) helps volunteer Renne Baldwin (right) prepare water sampling pole
Another highlight of our year was connecting with dedicated volunteers that helped us on a regular basis. Lisa McAleese, Chad Choi, and Renne Baldwin have become consistent supporters of our Vancouver Water Monitoring Program. Over the past few months, they have joined Katie Moore, our Vancouver Water Monitoring Coordinator, in monitoring False Creek and collecting weekly water samples, to help empower the public to know where and when to get out on the water. On Renne’s first day volunteering with us, she braved 3 hours of heavy rain, travelling around False Creek, aiding Katie in collecting data. Though this could have been a miserable day, it was filled with smiles and jokes about the downpour. This is one small example of how our volunteers continue to blow us away with their warm spirits and dedication to the Swim Drink Fish movement.
We would also be remiss if we didn’t mention the ongoing dedication of our field agents, Rachel Schoeler and Nima Mostaghimi, who have always been there when we need them most. As some of the biggest supporters of the Vancouver Water Monitoring Program, they are always ready to spring into action when we call on them, and we are grateful for their time and expertise.
This fall, we received incredible support from more than 20 volunteers at our 2019 Swim Drink Fish Gala Vancouver. This gala is a night of celebration dedicated to raising the funds that support our Vancouver Water Monitoring Program and Water Literacy Program, and it would not be possible without the generous help of our volunteers. Whether quietly working behind the scenes to ensure the night went smoothly, welcoming guests, or presenting the artwork of our Art Auction, these volunteers brought an energy and passion that made the night special.
Swim Drink Fish staff and volunteers at the 4th Semi-Annual Swim Drink Fish Gala
As we continue sampling bi-weekly through the winter season, we are looking for more volunteers to join our team of citizen scientists working for swimmable, drinkable, fishable water. The Swim Drink Fish movement grows and thrives through connecting people to their local waters. This is a great opportunity to get out by the water, learn more about Vancouver’s watersheds, gain volunteer experience, and become a citizen scientist. We would love to have you join our team and get involved, learn more and sign up here.