BBEMA helps Summerside Students – Go Wild

The Hope for Wildlife Society made a presentation, organized by the Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association, to educate students at the school about the importance of wildlife and its effect on the environment.  The non-profit organization based in Nova Scotia deals with injured or orphaned wildlife.  Founder Hope Swinimer and coordinator Allison Dube brought a wide array of creatures to show the students.

The guests of honour – the animals – included a pigeon, a Southern California toad named Danny California, a Greek spur tortoise named Clover, Cornelius the corn snake, a Norwegian brown rat, two sugar gliders and a porcupine.

Dube walked around the classroom, letting the students meet some of animals, while she and Swinimer educated students about the various species and how wildlife comes into their centre.  Additionally, Wednesday night there was a session at Kensington Intermediate High School, which was open to the public.

The goal of the program is to reconnect people with nature, said Swinimer.  “We always welcome the opportunity to educate young people about the environment, about the ecosystem and about nature.”

The students at SIS seemed to enjoy the presentation, she added.  “When they show a real concern and a real interest it warms my heart that they care, they want to learn and they want to understand,” Swinimer said. “That’s when I feel like, ‘Yes, that’s what I am here for, so you’ll be knowledgeable and make good decisions.’ They were amazing.”

Swiminer began the organization after working at the Dartmouth Veterinary Hospital for 22 years and realizing people weren’t sure what to do with injured wildlife that weren’t pets.

“People would call, ‘What do I do? A bird just hit my window’ or, ‘My cat brought back a squirrel and it’s still alive.’ So I got involved in trying to educate people with the proper answers and that’s where it developed,” she said. “Before I knew it, I was doing 50 or 60 animals a year. Now I’m doing 1,600 animals a year.”

The organization won’t take anything that isn’t orphaned or injured, but will offer advice to those in need.  “Say someone calls us about a raccoon in their attic, that’s not what we do. But we don’t just leave the person wondering,” she said. “We’ll give homeowners good advice on when to get involved and when to not.”

With the evening presentation there wre a few changes, such as a PowerPoint presentation, moe indepth talk about diseases, and some answers about whether to interact with wildlife.  There’s less difference than you’d think between the adult and student audiences, joked Swinimer. “Every time we do a kid show, there’s always adults in the room and they say they got as much out of it as the kids do.”

Hope for Wildlife coordinator Allison Dube, left, holds a porcupine with SIS grade 9 student Sean Doke on Wednesday at the school. Hope for Wildlife presented to three classes of SIS students about wildlife and the environment.