Beneath the Surface: Reflections on being an Ambassador of the lake

My last week at the Lake Windermere Ambassadors has come and gone.

My last week at the Lake Windermere Ambassadors has come and gone. I have worked for two summers here, and I have gained so much. I worked with Kirsten Harma for my first summer. She had been running the program for four years and had a great system I could jump right into.

That first summer, I organized and ran the Summer Splash event, the beach and lake monitoring programs, did some article writing and whatever else came up in a given week. I would love to say that I handled it all easily on my own, but it was the support and patience of Kirsten that got me through. It really is a full-on job and I wasn’t completely confident with every aspect of it.

Flash forward to this year: I had a new boss in Megan Peloso. Right from the start, we hit it off and this summer has been fantastic. I did the work that I did last year even more independently and was even able to do a few more things. One of these was a CABIN training course. CABIN stands for Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network. It’s a program that judges the health of streams and rivers based on how many environmentally sensitive aquatic insects can be found in them. The program is national, so I am going to be able to help with the network anywhere in Canada.

Working for the Ambassadors has not only given me real world experience in the non-profit sector, it has given me a deeper appreciation for the area I have lived in all my life.

As awful as it is to say, having grown up here, I sometimes find it hard to fully acknowledge how beautiful a place this really is. I believe that as soon as a person knows more than the obvious about a habitat or natural feature like a lake, it becomes much more difficult not to care about it. Now that I’ve been doing Lake Windermere’s weekly checkups for two summers, I definitely have a deeper connection to it.

This area is very lucky to have a group like the Lake Windermere Ambassadors. I may be a little biased, but I think it’s true. We should be so grateful for the people who built and continue to run this program. We should be grateful that there are people in our community who care so deeply about the rest of us — people who work to preserve natural balances are people who care about the well-being of their neighbours.

As an Ambassador, I want people to know a few things about the inner workings of this machine. Firstly, this is a mechanism for you to get involved in the decision-making in and around the lake. You have a voice and we can help you use it if you have a concern.

Secondly, we can make strides by ourselves, but we rely on volunteers to make an impact. The people who show up and get involved are really the ones who make this program work. So thank you everyone I was fortunate to get to work alongside — you guys are champs.

Beneath The Surface is based on the principle that there is often more to know than what is visible from the “surface” of an issue. If there is something that concerns you about the lake and you want to get to the “bottom of it,” call Lake Windermere Ambassadors program co-ordinator Megan Peloso at 250-341-6898 or email and inspire the next column!