Cindy's Blog

“Streamkeepers are curious people.”

Jul 07 2015

by Cindy

Sampling aquatic insects in Buck Creek

During our 3 days of Streamkeepers training last week I was delighted to see how many times the above words of our amazing teacher, ZoAnn Morten from Pacific Streamkeepers Federation, rang true.

I have often felt that people in our small community in Northern BC love the created world only for the enjoyment and resources it provides for us. I have heard people come right out and say that the natural world is merely a backdrop for the human drama to be used and cared for because it feeds us and gives us a place to do our work and try out our toys…a philosophy that I have seen time and time again lead not just to use but abuse. I myself have been guilty of this kind of thinking, particularly on unsuccessful fishing trips that used up a lot of time, energy and resources but did not provide food for our freezer.

Deep down though, I believe that God created this world not just for my pleasure and sustenance (although that is undeniably a part of it) but for a larger purpose. As much as I’d like it to be about me and other humans, prayer and study of God’s word have shown me that it really is not. It is about love. It is about creativity. It is about God. Afterall, the story of the creation of the universe in Genesis, begins and ends with God, not humans. God who, in the beginning, created – and God who at the end of the creation story rests and proclaims that ALL created things are “very good”.

DSCN1558Last week I was excited (and relieved, truth be told) to see this other side of people in my community. I was privileged to learn alongside people who love creation because they enjoy and use it for their sustenance AND because they “are curious people” – people who explore, experience and seek to explain the natural world and recognize that creatures are valuable in and of themselves apart from whether they serve humanity.

And the best part of our time together? Questions. Questions ranging from natural history to politics and everything in between. Questions like: If the water quality is good and there is lots of fish food in Buck Creek (two things that we discovered during our training) why aren’t there salmon filling the stream? Do lamprey lay eggs or have live young? Will the creatures survive this present government’s anti-environment laws, destruction of research libraries and funding cuts to the departments that are mandated for conservation? What kind of fish are hiding in that pool there just behind the rocks?

Lamprey Buck creekThankfully Google was able to answer some of the questions (lamprey lay eggs apparently), sadly only time will tell the answer to some of the harder political questions and delightedly we learned skills that will allow us to monitor our watershed to answer the more specific questions. I look forward to the next time we meet to ask and answer some of our questions.  And I look forward to meeting other “curious people” in my community. God is so good.

The Upper Bulkley River (UBR) Streamkeepers will meet this Thursday at 6:00 pm at the Houston Public Library. To get on the mailing list for other UBR Streamkeepers activities over the summer click here  or contact cindy.verbeek [at] arocha.ca. Visit our facebook page

Streamkeepers Training – Order Confirmation

Jun 02 2015

by Cindy

Thank you for registering for the Streamkeepers Training in Houston

Please meet at the walking bridge on Buck Creek at 8:45 am each morning so we can get started at 9:00.

We will be outside all day and in the creek for the majority of the day. Please remember to bring:

  • Water bottle
  • Hat & sunscreen
  • Bag lunch, drinks & snacks
  • Footwear for stream work (Hip/chestwaders or rubber boots work but so do an old pair of runners and shorts!)
  • Waterproof camera

We are looking forward to a great, hands-on learning experience and are so glad you’ve decided to join us.

Cindy Verbeek

Project Coordinator, Bulkley A Rocha Project

A Rocha Canada

250-845-2222

cindy.verbeek@arocha.ca

Houston Streamkeepers Training Schedule

Houston, BC June 30 – July 2, 2015

Day 1

Tuesday, June 30, 2015     9:00 am to 3:00 pm

Understanding Fish and their Food – Streamkeepers Modules 4 & 11

Learn how to select sampling locations and trap juvenile fish using Gee traps, and sample, count and identify benthic invertebrates.

Spawner Surveys – Streamkeepers Module 12

Learn how to count spawning salmonids with procedures used by Fisheries Officers and input data into the Streamkeepers database.

Day 2

Wednesday, July 01, 2015  9:00 am to 3:00 pm

Measuring Water Quality and Quantity – Streamkeepers Module 3

Water quality measurements provide basic information about the stream. Learn how to measure turbidity, dissolved oxygen, pH, and temperature using simple equipment.

In the field component (afternoon) – practice measuring water quality and quantity

Day 3

Thursday, July 02, 2015        9:00 am to 3:00 pm

Stream Habitat Surveys – Streamkeepers Modules 1 & 2

Learn how to collect watershed information using maps, historical information, and current data and how to measure streambed material, embeddedness of substrate, instream cover, percent pool habitat, off channel habitat, bank stability, stream bank vegetation and more.

In the field component (afternoon) – complete a stream habitat survey on Buck Creek.

Streamkeepers Training (Houston, BC)

Jun 02 2015

by Cindy

The Bulkley A Rocha Project is partnering with the Pacific Streamkeeper Federation with funding from Pacific Salmon Foundation to bring streamkeepers training sessions to Houston. Anyone wanting to volunteer with the Upper Bulkley River Streamkeepers this summer is encouraged to attend. This is an outdoor, hands-on learning experience for anyone age 10-100. Register today to become a streamkeeper!

 

To pay by cheque, please download Streamkeepers-Registration and mail to Box 186 Houston, BC V0J 1Z0 (cheques payable to A Rocha Canada).

Houston Streamkeepers Training Schedule

Houston, BC June 30 – July 2, 2015

Day 1

Tuesday, June 30, 2015     9:00 am to 3:00 pm

Understanding Fish and their Food – Streamkeepers Modules 4 & 11

Learn how to select sampling locations and trap juvenile fish using Gee traps, and sample, count and identify benthic invertebrates.

Spawner Surveys – Streamkeepers Module 12

Learn how to count spawning salmonids with procedures used by Fisheries Officers and input data into the Streamkeepers database.

Day 2

Wednesday, July 01, 2015  9:00 am to 3:00 pm

Measuring Water Quality and Quantity – Streamkeepers Module 3

Water quality measurements provide basic information about the stream. Learn how to measure turbidity, dissolved oxygen, pH, and temperature using simple equipment.

In the field component (afternoon) – practice measuring water quality and quantity

Day 3

Thursday, July 02, 2015        9:00 am to 3:00 pm

Stream Habitat Surveys – Streamkeepers Modules 1 & 2

Learn how to collect watershed information using maps, historical information, and current data and how to measure streambed material, embeddedness of substrate, instream cover, percent pool habitat, off channel habitat, bank stability, stream bank vegetation and more.

In the field component (afternoon) – complete a stream habitat survey on Buck Creek.

 

A Rocha Bioblitz (Houston, BC)

Apr 28 2015

by Cindy

Become a Citizen Scientist!

Join local experts and scientists to count as many plant and animal species in the Houston area as we can in a 24 hour period. Blitzing begins at 3:00 pm May 22nd and goes until 3:00 pm May 23rd. Join a group (see schedule below) and then join us for the wrap up, final tallies, snacks and entertainment Sat. May 23rd @ 6:00 pm at the Houston Public Library.

Thursday, May 21

7:00 pm Citizen Scientist training – Learn how to use iNaturalist and other apps to record wildlife sightings and contribute to research and conservation. – @ Houston Public Library

Friday, May 22

3:30 pm Duck Pond bioblitz – meet @ Boardwalk on the pond.
6:30 pm  Buck Creek bioblitz – meet @ Baseball field on 3rd & Copeland

Saturday, May 23

7:00 am Early Bird Search – meet @ A&W
11:30 am Hot dog roast @ Silverthorne Lake
1:00 pm Old Pines Trail Plant hike – Meet @ trailhead            Directions
6:00 pm Wrap-up Coffee house @ Houston Public Library

 

Northern BC – 2014 in Review

Dec 15 2014

by Cindy

Help. Thanks. Wow.

As I reflect on the past year I can’t help but think of Anne Lamott’s “three essential prayers”… Help. Thanks. Wow. These prayers have become a daily and yearly rhythm as I work to live out my calling as a creation keeper and staff member of A Rocha Canada.

I regularly ask both you and God to join me in this journey – with finances, prayers and participation. These are my “help” prayers, because I know I can not do this work alone.

And this year I have felt so supported and loved I just want to say “thanks”. Thank you to all those who donated time, money and supplies to this ministry. Thank you to my colleagues, friends and family who have supported me in a myriad of ways. And especially thank you to God for the gifts of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control – all of which I have experienced this year.

Now please share with me a prayer of “wow” for the things that God has done and is doing in Northern BC.

2014 in Review Presentation

A Rocha Booth at the Smither’s Fall Fair

Aug 19 2014

by Cindy

4607Just a friendly reminder to stop by the A Rocha booth at the fall fair in Smithers this week starting Thursday at 1:00 p.m. and running until Sunday afternoon. The Exhibition theme this year is “95 years of horsing around” so I played off of that and have a “While you’re out horsing around…remember our salmon” display featuring the work I am doing as an Upper Bulkley River Streamkeeper. I am hoping to get more volunteers, share the work of A Rocha locally, nationally and internationally and engage in the conversation of conservation from a Christian faith perspective. For those of you who pray, I would love your input. If you are able to stop by to spell me off occasionally that would be great too. Blessings and…quite horsing around…get down there and check it out!

Living Lightly…in the bathroom?

Apr 21 2014

by Cindy

Happy Earth week! Recently 10 ladies at a GIFT night (Gals Inviting Friends Together) learned some of the things I do to reduce, reuse and recycle in the bathroom. Ok, so it seems like a strange topic but it’s true. There are many things we can do to live lightly in the bathroom. Make your own deodorant , kick the toothpaste habit, and purchase toilet paper made from recycled paper are just a few. If you want to learn more visit my blog at www.abidingbranch.wordpress.com for my notes from the presentation. If you would like to have your own Living Lightly presentation let me know at cindy.verbeek(at)arocha.ca.

Bulkley Valley A Rocha group gathering this Tuesday

Nov 23 2013

by Cindy

Join us for this inspiring documentary of the life of Aldo Leopold, author of A Sand County Almanac and one of the founding fathers of conservation in North America. Be inspired challenged to see the land differently and join the discussion on what we can do to make a change in our own lives here in Houston, BC!

The Bulkley Valley A Rocha group will meet this Tuesday night.

Green Fire: Aldo Leopold & A Land Ethic for Our Time

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGIK24N7apQ

Date(s): November 26th
Time: 7:00 pm
Place: 2960 Nadina Way (call Cindy for directions 250-845-2222)

We will be watching an inspirational documentary on Aldo Leopold author of A Sand County Almanac and one of the founding fathers of conservation in North America.

Join us for a time of fellowship, fun and shared learning. Bring a snack to share and a friend.

I look forward to seeing you all.

Flourishing in Northern, BC

Oct 03 2013

by Cindy

This summer has been a busy one for A Rocha in Northern BC. Read on to hear how staff member Cindy Verbeek has lived out A Rocha’s core commitments (otherwise known as “The Five Cs”).

•         Christians in the Bulkley Valley have been encouraged to partner with Good Seed Sunday this coming fall,

•         Conservation research on salmon-bearing Buck Creek was completed which will contribute to restoration efforts in the Upper Bulkley/Skeena watershed,

•         Community was built as folks enjoyed the A Rocha booth at the Bulkley Valley Exhibition in Smithers,

•         Cross-cultural dialogue and understanding was built as Cindy presented findings from her recent trip to east Africa about how Kenyans and Ugandans are being affected by and working to alleviate the impact of climate change and what we can do as North Americans to partner with them,

•         Cooperation was fostered between A Rocha’s partner HOPE (Healthy Options for People and the Earth) Society in Houston to present the Pleasant Valley Community market where farmer’s and artisans can present their wares during the summer months.

The most satisfying activity though, Cindy says, is the Mountain View Community Garden at Houston Christian Reformed Church, a member of A Rocha’s Community Garden Network. Though small in size, a number of families are able to grow healthy food for themselves on the 50×75-foot plot on the church’s property. Many people in Houston have large gardens, but this is a place for people without access to land to try their hand at growing their own food and becoming more connected with the land that they call home.

“As people work the soil there is a sense of connection with the created world and the Creator that does not come with any other activity,” Cindy explains. “Metaphors that Jesus uses in his parables come to life as we watch seeds turn to plants, dig weeds and prepare the soil. I am delighted to be a catalyst for this kind of interaction and am thankful to all the people in my congregation who have helped make this garden a reality.”

One of the most challenging parts of A Rocha’s work in the area is having the resources to do all that could be done in Northern BC. We are few people spread along vast areas of wilderness, but connections are being made and more and more Christians are becoming intentionally involved in creation care. To join the growing team of Christians in Northern BC and partner with A Rocha in this important work, visit Cindy’s blog at www.arocha.ca/author/Cindy or contact her at cindy.verbeek@arocha.ca. Or better yet, stop by for a cup of tea – mint from the garden of course.

Mountain View Community Garden – Same garden, New name.

Sep 08 2013

by Cindy

Houston Church Garden (3)Four years ago I approached our church council at Houston Christian Reformed Church to see if there might be enough interest to start a community garden on church land. It sounded like a good idea at the time – I mean we have all this land why not put some of into food production for the community. Responses where “that’s a great idea Cindy you should do it”; “you can’t even grow potatoes in that land” and “the deer will eat everything”. Needless to say I was too stubborn (and naïve) to listen to anyone. I found one other brave soul to join me in doing the organizing and planning and decided to give it a go.

One church member brought in his backhoe and dug up the soil, another brought a truck load of manure laden soil from his farm to fill it up and yet another came with his tiller to mix it all. And so, four years ago, our little 75 x 50 plot became our church community garden.

Since then it has not grown in size but has developed into a pretty little garden on the hill complete with deer fence (the deer were indeed a problem) and a used shed that was moved from the parsonage during renovations. This year the building committee dug a trench, laid piping and set up water taps right at the garden instead of having to haul the hose to connect to the pastor’s house whenever we needed water! And, with the help of the congregation we even came up with an official name: Mountain View Community Garden.

So today I want to take back any whining I did over the years about nobody supporting me in this project.  Please forgive me for not seeing all the help you have provided and my hat’s off to all of those wonderful people who have stepped up to help. Thank you so much!

To date we have had over a dozen different gardeners ranging from 4 to 8 per year. We still have lots to develop on the community side of things but we’re on the right track. Now that the physical on the ground logistics are taken care of I would love to see this garden become a place where people can meet, share gardening stories and experience and share the love of Christ with the earth and the neighbours around us. As visions of a food forest, a potato patch, picnicking area with campfire spot, native learning garden, prayer garden, berry patch and other fun gardening ideas running around in my head I realize I’m going to need more help. Or I could just leave it small and enjoy seeing people grow food for their families and community members! As they say in Uganda – Kamu Kamu Gwe Muganda (one by one makes a bundle) and really, only God knows what’s in store. But if the entire church could catch the vision of caring for this piece of earth that God has given us to steward just imagine what it could be…Join me in praying for this exciting project.

Mountain View Community Garden is a project of Houston Christian Reformed Church and a member of A Rocha’s Community Gardening Network

604.542.9022 19353 16th Ave Surrey BC Canada V3Z 9V2

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