Gaeil Farrar photo                                The Williams Lake Field Naturalists honoured Anna Roberts during their annual fundraising banquet Friday evening, April 21 by naming the library at the Scout Island Nature Centre for her. Roberts was a founding member of the Scout Island Nature Centre and continues to tend to a plant demonstration garden outside the centre where people can learn to identify natural plants growing in the region such as cactus and various types of sage. Anna and her daughter, Gina, also created and organized the library at the nature centre.

Gaeil Farrar photo The Williams Lake Field Naturalists honoured Anna Roberts during their annual fundraising banquet Friday evening, April 21 by naming the library at the Scout Island Nature Centre for her. Roberts was a founding member of the Scout Island Nature Centre and continues to tend to a plant demonstration garden outside the centre where people can learn to identify natural plants growing in the region such as cactus and various types of sage. Anna and her daughter, Gina, also created and organized the library at the nature centre.

City and naturalists honour nature education advocate Anna Roberts

City and field naturalists honour Anna Roberts at annual Scout Island fundraiser

Anna Roberts, who was instrumental in the development of the Scout Island Nature Centre and its educational programs, has been honoured by both the City of Williams Lake and the Williams Lake Field Naturalists.

Roberts was presented with a plaque of appreciation from the City of Williams Lake and the Williams Lake Field Naturalists and had the library at the Scout Island Nature Centre named in her honour during the annual Scout Island Nature Centre fundraising banquet held at St. Andrew’s United Church hall Friday evening, April 21.

In presenting the plaque, Coun. Sue Zacharias extended appreciation on behalf of Mayor Walt Cobb and city council for all of Roberts’ hard work and read the plaque which in part says: “She (Roberts) has inspired generations of children and adults to engage and delight in the natural world and this legacy will continue for decades to come.”

Williams Lake Field Naturalists’ secretary Ordell Steen did the honours of announcing that the library in the nature house at Scout Island would be named in Roberts’ honour.

Steen said Roberts has made a “mammoth” contribution to the nature centre and has shown tremendous enthusiasm and willingness to share her knowledge with children and adults.

“She has enriched the lives of people here and beyond,” Steen said. “She is known here and throughout the province.”

“It is a pleasure to receive these awards,” Roberts told the Tribune at the end of the evening. “For many years I’ve enjoyed working at the nature centre.”

Both the dedication plaque and a plaque which features a picture of Roberts and information about her contributions will hang in the library at the nature house.

In addition to being a leader in the formation of Scout Island Nature Centre in 1977, Roberts devoted many years to enhancing its value as a centre for nature education.

Her passion for encouraging children to explore nature led to the initiation and development of the Scout Island nature education programs for children.

Her countless natural history walks and presentations on topics from bats to lichens have inspired many to follow in her path. Her numerous published natural history guides and detailed inventories of plants and animals have established Roberts as a well recognized and respected contributor to ecological knowledge of the region.

And her ready willingness to share her knowledge with anyone who asks has significantly increased public awareness of nature and has guided important conservation efforts.

She also developed many of the displays in the nature house as well as various wildlife viewing opportunities on the Scout Island Nature Centre grounds. Among the viewing opportunities is a garden adjacent to the nature house in which Roberts planted examples of plants that are native to this region such as cactus, bunch grass, and various types of sage.

Now 87, Roberts continues to tend the garden, in fall prune the bushes, and in spring preparing the gardens for new growth. She also puts little signs in the garden which identify the plants.

“I keep it up so that people can see the plants and flowers that grow here,” Roberts said.

Roberts holds a Bachelor of Science degree in plant pathology from McGill University in Montreal. She worked in the plant pathology field for government in Ottawa for eight years before she and her late husband, John, a longtime lakecity veterinarian and historian moved to Williams Lake in 1958.

They raised their three children, son Kim, and daughters Naomi and Gina in Williams Lake. For six years Roberts also worked locally as a plant pathologist for the Ministry of Forests.

“That’s when I started looking at native plants and realized there wasn’t a list of native plants for this region,” Roberts said. Among her other publications she researched and created a list of plants that are native to this region.

Roberts is also a founding member of the Cariboo Potters Guild and continues to make pottery using clay that she digs locally and hand-builds into shapes inspired by plants that grow around the region. Her pottery creations with budding pussy willow branches in them graced the banquet tables during the fundraising banquet.

In a separate presentation at the beginning of the evening, Zacharias also extended mayor and council’s appreciation to the Williams Lake Field Naturalists for all of their hard work to making Scout Island Nature Centre the jewel that it is for the community today.

She said she knows people who participated in education programs at the nature centre and now have children who also participate in the programs. “The city truly, truly appreciates everything you do,” Zacharias said.