Darlene Sherwin has been advocating for fish habitat enhancement in the Aldergrove community for 20 years now.
She is a founding member of the Bertrand Creek Enhancement Society (BCES), which last month marked its 20th anniversary.
BCES has been instrumental in many projects over those years, from habitat restoration and enhancement projects to the simple hands-on clean-ups of the stream and its banks.
However, Sherwin has also brought the stream preservation message to the youths who will be the future stream-keepers, by leading the Eco Tigers Club at Shortreed Elementary School. This club, along with the Eco Science Club at Parkside Elementary, are both sponsored by the BCES and have involved the students in hands-on projects in local streams.
The major local stream is Bertrand Creek, which winds its way south from Aldergrove’s downtown core to the Nooksack River in Washington State. It is the home to various salmonids such as the coho as well as the endangered Nooksack Dace and Salish sucker.
Sherwin has worked at Shortreed as a special education teachers’ assistant for almost 20 years but she also takes the time to lead the Eco Tigers after school. The Eco Tigers also meet monthly during lunch hour, where Sherwin shows them how build bird houses, for example.
The Eco Tigers’ major undertaking every year is the caring for about 50 coho salmon hatchlings in the grade 2 classroom. Every January Sherwin picks up the hatchlings from the Nicomekl Enhancement Society hatchery in Langley and delivers the to the tank in the school.
The students care for the eggs daily, making sure the tank is kept clean and dark, as the hatchlings turn into fingerlings, ready for release into the Nicomekl River at the end of April.
During this time the class learns about the salmon life cycle and its importance to our local environment.
“This program and the Eco Tigers Club are fun learning events that the kids really enjoy a lot,” said Sherwin.
“There are 30 to 70 kids involved every year, and sometimes it’s just me leadng the club on projects, but I also bring in guest speakers, such as the ‘Owl Lady’ Gail Corfe and falconer Angela Wonitowy from the zoo, who bring owls and raptors to the class. Many kids have good memories of this, like when they stand next to an owl for photos.”
Other speakers have included the SCA on pet care, and others have brought bees and bunies to the club.
“We keep it to a theme and this keeps the kids coming back for more,” said Sherwin.