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2016 Conservation Award - Member: Richard Waters


The Conservation Award - Member is given in recognition of an outstanding contribution by a member in the cause of natural history conservation in the Ottawa Valley, with particular emphasis on activities within the Ottawa District.

For 2016 we are recognizing the impact Richard Waters has had on the Bell High School students in his grade nine Exploring Technology class. As a teacher, his challenge was to generate students' interest to make something that they would be proud enough of to take home with them and to get their credit for grade nine Exploring Technology as required by the Ontario curriculum. The outcome of his work with over 1000 students since 2008 is a great deal of pride in their creations and an interest in birding - feeding, housing and protecting the birds' habitats.

The seeds of Richard's work with the students were planted by Chris Traynor of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club and Chris Bruce of the Macnamara Field Naturalists' Club. Chris Traynor mentioned to Richard that there was a need to replace some owl boxes that were falling apart after 20 years of service. Chris Bruce suggested that Richard's students make Eastern Bluebird boxes for the Bell Arena Woods area behind the high school.

Richard guides his students through a process to identify a local species and to investigate their habitat. The students generate a design specification for the outcome they are looking for and identify performance criteria. He teaches students to draw designs of the nest box in two dimensions and in three dimensions, to produce a plan, to use the tools, materials and machinery in the shop, and guides them through to a finished product.

Richard oversees the process, drawing on the help and advice of his local birding network at Innis Point Bird Observatory and fellow OFNC birders for input on types of boxes and location to target conservation needs. Finding suitable habitat for species in need is important. Locations have to be accessible, yet out of sight to avoid vandalism or disturbance. Richard and his team monitor a constantly growing number of boxes throughout the year. Richard provides feedback and photos to the students. Some students have continued an interest. Richard has them count birds twice a week for the FeederWatch project!

Richard and his students have been successful in providing boxes for a growing list of species, which includes Purple Martin, with a grant from World Wildlife Fund and Loblaw Eco-grant ($850), Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Screech Owl, White-breasted Nuthatch, Tree Swallow, House Wren, Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, bee boxes, and flying squirrels' nesting boxes. They have installed a web cam for Bell High School's FeederWatch project with live footage streamed into the Science and Technology classrooms via the school's network.

Upcoming projects for which Richard and his students have created designs and bid proposals include tree planting, outdoor classrooms and butterfly gardens.

We are pleased to recognize the work of Richard Waters with this Conservation Award for a member.

Richard's students' creations may be seen here.

Prepared by Julia Cipriani

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This page was created 15 March 2017
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