Two students, one from Canada and one from the Cumbria, are in the midst of an international exchange project to share cultural and environmental experiences on each other’s Lake Windermere.
Fiona Devlin, 17, from Ambleside, Cumbria (UK) and Erin Hillary, 17, from Invermere won an essay competition held by the Lake Windermere Ambassadors and the UK Environment Agency.
Both young women are in Windermere, UK right now as part of the Rotary-sponsored student exchange.
Their essays were on the topic of “how can we create a Windermere to be proud of?” and focused on the environmental problems and solutions of lake management.
The project is part of the Windermere Sister Lake Partnership and has been organized in partnership with Wildsight, the Lake Windermere Ambassadors, the UK Environment Agency and the Rotary Clubs of Windermere, UK and Invermere, Canada.
Together they organized a 10 day exchange in June for each of these students to explore the local landscape in their host country and to learn more about the challenges facing the environment. The trip is funded by the two Rotary Clubs.
Fiona and Erin are taking part in a range of activities including: experiencing life in another school, swimming in each other’s lakes, working with the two environmental organisations to sample water in the lakes, meeting with local mayors, and giving joint presentations to the local schools and Rotary Clubs.
Having spent 10 days in a different country learning about aspects of the lake, they’ll take what they learn back to their own countries and share it with other groups and organisations involved in lake protection.
The two lakes with the same namesake were twinned following the International Living Lakes conference held at Lake Windermere, Cumbria in 2009.
The two local mayors and those working on the lakes’ protection signed an agreement to share good lake management practices.
“Of the two Windermeres,” Heather Leschied, Wildsight program manager said, “the similarities go much further than the name.
“Both lakes face pressures from visitor populations, loss of native fish species, lack of public access, sewage inputs, water quality, invasive species and climate change. These issues are not unique to England and Canada. In fact, through the International Living Lakes network we have recognized these issues are of increasing global concern.”
Michelle Donoghue, Lakes Manager at the UK Environment Agency said: “This exchange is the first initiative to come from our agreement with our colleagues in Canada. We face similar challenges in managing our water quality and we are delighted that one of their students is coming to Cumbria to share her experiences of living by a lake.
“By sharing best practices, and encouraging people to get involved in their local environment, we help safeguard the future of our precious lakes.”
Leschied said the student exchange project will help strengthen the relationship between the two lakes and nurture a greater interest in watershed stewardship from the youth in the two communities.
Both partners thank their local Rotary Clubs for making this exchange possible.
The UK winner, Fiona Devlin, travelled to Canada on May 29 and returned on June 10, along with the Canadian winner, Erin Hillary, who returned on June 19.
Erin gave a presentation about her experience at the District of Invermere council meeting on June 28.
Living Lakes Canada/Wildsight Program Manager