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The Sydenham club is involved in conservation projects on Earth Day

Vaseline 2 months ago

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The Sydenham Sportsmen Association’s work for conservation and the environment is ongoing all year round, but this weekend was particularly busy for the organisation.

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Saturday the club was back along the banks of the Sydenham River and Owen Sound Harbor for their annual Earth Day Cleanup, while on Sunday they gathered at the Montessori School with about 35 youth and their families to build birdhouses.

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Cleanup coordinator Chris Geberdt said Saturday that he remembers participating in the cleanup as a young boy decades ago with his father Fred, who believed strongly in the work.

“For me it means keeping my father alive with all the things that are close to his heart,” Geberdt said. “If it wasn’t the fishing derby it was the hatchery, if it wasn’t the hatchery it was planting trees, and if it wasn’t planting trees it was collecting trash.”

Geberdt said he believes Earth Day is about taking actions to make the community and society better, and the cleanup is a great way to do that.

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“This isn’t just once a year, it’s every day, so if you see a piece of trash on the ground, pick it up,” he said. “Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution and clean up the mess.”

More than forty club members and volunteers spread across the area wearing gloves and garbage bags, collecting the rubbish that had accumulated there during the winter months.

Geberdt said everyone is so busy today that it’s hard to find new volunteers, but the cleanup has always been a success.

“It was fun today. I met three new volunteers who came out,” he said. “It starts with the young children, and I brought all five of my grandchildren who were able to come and they are all here picking up trash.”

They scoured the riverbanks and launch pads commonly used by fishermen.

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By the end of the day, more than a ton of waste – everything from small cigarette butts to cans and bottles, tables and tents, vacuum cleaners and shopping carts – had been collected and removed.

Club president Scott Grimoldby said the event is a longstanding tradition of the club that started as Pitch-In Day more than 50 years ago. He said they have had a lot of support for the event over the years, with Miller Waste donating a bin, community members coming out and more.

Others are encouraged to organize their own similar events wherever they are in the community.

“We have a lot of local people who want to do their own neighborhood,” Grimoldby said. “We have a number of members who want to take a truck down a provincial road that is of interest to them, and some schools still do it.

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“Unfortunately it doesn’t really improve much, it’s part of society, but it’s the least we can do.”

bird boxes
Siblings Yousef, Sereen and Leen Alkhasharfa display the bird boxes they built during an event for new Canadians hosted by the Sydenham Sportsmen Association and the YMCA of Gray Bruce Owen Sound at the Montessori School in Owen Sound on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Photo by Rob Gowan The Sun Times

On Sunday, the club partnered with the YMCA of Owen Sound Gray Bruce Settlement and Language Services to give children and their families who have settled in the area from around the world the opportunity to build birdhouses to take home.

About 35 children took part in the event, where club volunteers helped them assemble the boxes using drills and screws, before coloring them and taking them home to hang in their garden or place on their patio, for the local feathered friends to enjoy.

Geberdt said the club first worked with settlement and language services to give the children the opportunity to catch fish in a stocked pond. For many, it was the first time they had ever caught a fish, and they couldn’t wait to take it home to cook and eat it.

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“This is right up our alley and it is a win-win situation for everyone,” says Geberdt. “At the end of the day, this is what makes my day.”

bird boxes
Earl Jack, left, and Chris Geberdt of the Sydenham Sportsmen Association help Yousef Alkhasharfa build a birdhouse during an event for new Canadians hosted by the SSA and the YMCA of Gray Bruce Owen Sound at the Montessori School in Owen Sound on Sunday, 21 April , 2024. Photo by Rob Gowan The Sun Times

Sunday was the first time for many children to use a drill.

“One girl I talked to said she’s going grocery shopping and this is what she wants to do,” Geberdt said. “You’re kind of paving a path for some kids.”

He noted that Sunday’s event was a good example of where funds raised from the annual Owen Sound Salmon Spectacular go.

“People think it’s all about fishing, but it’s not. It’s about conservation,” Geberdt said. “Yesterday we collected trash and today we are building birdhouses.”

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