20 years of Watersheds Canada

by Robert Pye

Planting now for our next 20 years

“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The next best time is now.” Appropriately enough, the best time for Watersheds Canada to share this action-now-adage is this year as we are celebrating our 20th anniversary.

It’s humbling to reminisce about Watersheds Canada’s lake association roots that were planted around the turn of the millennial. The light of twenty birthday candles shines on the fact that we have never stopped working to help save our lakes, rivers and shores. Since Watersheds Canada was founded, over 100,000 native species have been planted. And, we agree that the next best time is now… to plant for our future. 

Twenty years is a major milestone for a charitable organization. That’s why we are not going to take another trip around the sun without tooting our organization’s horn. Two decades of environmental action deserves to be recognized. From our beginnings as a lake association to a highly acclaimed national name with outstanding staff and programs, Watersheds Canada has matured into a true leader in the fight to protect freshwater. We remain dedicated to our mission while working to achieve sustainable funding.

No time to party.

Right “now” our hard-working staff and volunteers have little time for a birthday celebration. They are racing against mother nature’s clock to dig down and plant fast as we keep up with the demands on our Natural Edge program. We are taking on new fisheries restoration work, leading  municipal election talks about freshwater protection, and delivering our highly acclaimed educational resources to students and waterfront property owners. We just helped another walleye population by removing a build-up of silt that obstructs their spawning area. 

If we had the time and venue for a 20th birthday party, you would be on the top of our guest list. Watersheds Canada was born and raised on the support of caring environmental leaders like you. Thank you to our donors, partners, corporate sponsors, foundations, volunteers, Board of Directors (past and present) as well as our dedicated staff and interns. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention at least one name that professionally represents twenty years of Watersheds Canada success: Barbara King.

Barbara King’s leadership as the organization’s Executive Director in the past ten years brought Watersheds Canada from dream to reality. Barbara is now my predecessor and my colleague with the new title (but long standing role) of Director of Community and Partnerships. Barbara will continue to help our team open doors on new partners as well our great programs that reach hundreds of lakes and rivers in Canada. 

How did you celebrate 20?

Take a moment now to think about your twenty-year-old former (or future) self. Turning 20-years-old is a big deal. Growing pains now shape growing gains. There’s energy and tenacity – a desire to bring your best to chart new waters and pursue bigger dreams. That kind of sophomore spirit, if you will, perhaps describes the future forward ambition of Watersheds Canada. We are ready to hit the road to expand our reach, we just need help to keep gas in the tank – a metaphor, we admit, to help frame the fact that, more than any other time in our twenty-year run, we need increased support through monthly or annual donations.

In our next 20 years… 

Globally and locally, any discussion these days about the next twenty years of Watersheds Canada will highlight our long standing focus on lake protection.  Watersheds Canada has clearly graduated to the highest of all environmental calls to action – climate change mitigation. We need to step up everything we have been doing to tackle climate change, especially where freshwater and land meet.

Climate change means more severe weather events which will mean more runoff and more erosion, and more demand for shoreland naturalization and our educational programs such as Love Your Lake. Species at risk means increased demand for fish and wildlife habitat restoration. Eurasian milfoil, erosion, and blue-green algae blooms are topics important to you and to Watersheds Canada. Likewise, shoreline development raises local concerns and highlights the need for Watersheds Canada’s Planning for our Shorelands program as it delivers critical resources and support to municipal elected officials. Indeed, we have some serious work ahead and we are proud to have your support.

Please join me in wishing Watersheds Canada a happy 20th birthday. In lieu of a gift, we simply ask all of our waterfront association leaders and freshwater supporters to help introduce others to the work of our organization. As well, if you can, please consider a commitment to Watersheds Canada’s monthly giving program. Your donation of $20 helps symbolize an incredible milestone as Watersheds Canada gets ready for another twenty years of protecting our freshwater.