Many children and families in Williams Lake know Margaret Waring for her dual role as a physiotherapist and occupational therapist.
But what many of her students may not know is that she is the creator of those great little cartoons that grace the front pages of the Muskrat Express.
The Muskrat Express is Williams Lake Field Naturalist’s newsletter to highlight programs at Scout Island Nature Centre and other naturalist events, adventures and information.
Waring’s behind the scenes work with the naturalists earned her the club’s volunteer of the year award at last year’s annual fundraising banquet which is coming up again next week.
Waring started out with the naturalists participating in their field trip adventures to areas of natural beauty around the region.
As time went on she became more involved.
“Anyone who is a member can lead a field trip,” Waring says.
For a while she volunteered each spring to help clean the bluebird nesting boxes the naturalists maintain in the Chilcotin.
From washing windows, to picking weeds, helping to build trails, leading nature walks or helping out with educational programs for children, Waring says there is always something for volunteers to do.
She served on the club executive for a while and as the club’s liaison to the city for a while. Now she enjoys developing the cartoons for the front page of the Muskrat Express which is produced by retired teacher Jim Sims. She says Sims is also in the process of creating a computer program to help people identify birds of the Cariboo-Chilcotin.
Waring also organizes the nature centre’s annual yard sale coming up later this spring which is a fundraiser for a high school student bursary and to support Scout Island programs for children.
She says the Field Naturalists is a great organization to belong to because it has a nice mix of children and adults, who have a wide variety of outdoor interests from hiking to bird watching.
“There are loads of volunteers involved in making Scout Island what it is today,” Waring says.
Born in Matsqui, and having taken her public schooling in Surrey, Waring still has close family, friends and professional contacts she enjoys visiting in the Lower Mainland but she is happy to call Williams Lake home.
She did her four-year degree in physiotherapy and occupational therapy at the University of British Columbia.
She worked at the former Health Centre for Children in Vancouver General Hospital for three years before taking about five months off to travel around Europe.
When she arrived back in Vancouver she was looking for a change.
Like many professionals before her, she decided to take a job in Williams Lake for a couple of years then move on.
But like many professionals she discovered the riches the region has to offer and stayed.
“I was going to stay a year or two if I liked it, and I’m still here,” Waring says. “I did look at other options, once at a job at Sunny Hill. I love going to Vancouver to visit with my professional contacts and friends, but not to live there right now, because I like the outdoors, lack of crowds — winters and summers,” Waring says.
In Williams Lake Waring started her career at the Child Development Centre and now shares her time between School District 27, Interior Health and private practice.
All of her professional life, Waring has used her skills in physiotherapy and occupational therapy to help children with special needs and disabilities.
She worked with fellow professionals to start the swim program and wheelchair basketball programs for children with disabilities and for about 20 years worked with Diana Donnelly, students and other volunteers who ran the horseback riding program for disabled children in Williams Lake for about 20 years.
“It was a wonderful program,” Waring says. “Kids still know Diana. She’s left a lasting impression on a lot of people’s lives.”
These days Waring is also a member of the city’s accessibility committee and serves on the board of the Cariboo Brain Injury Society.
“I’ve been very lucky to be part of different families and help them with their struggles and accomplishments,” Waring says.
As might be expected Waring has a wide variety of outdoor interests. When she was younger she was an avid mountain hiker and downhill skier.
Now she still enjoys a few days a year on the downhill slopes but is more comfortable on the cross country runs and with her latest sport, snowshoeing.
Summers you will find her out camping, swimming, kayaking, bike riding, canoeing, and walking her dog.
Sometimes her walks take her down the Williams Lake River Valley Trail to where the trail meets the Fraser River, where on occasion she says people have seen pelicans fishing.
Pelicans are among the regular visitors to Scout Island in the spring and gather there in fairly large numbers while waiting to head out to their nesting grounds further north or in the Chilcotin, but can be spotted fishing at various lakes through the summer.
Waring also enjoys reading, gardening and music.
She studied flute in high school and now enjoys playing flute with the Williams Lake Community Band which performs at various community events such as Stampede, Stampede Parade and Street Party, Horsefly and Likely Parades, and for residents at the Seniors Village and Deni House.
“It’s a really nice group of people. Focusing on playing music takes your mind off everything else for a while and its a great group of people,” Waring says.
She also likes to support community initiatives such as the local farmer’s markets, Station House Gallery and local artists and artisans.
“There are loads of volunteers more deserving than I am,” says Waring about the honour of being the Williams Lake Field Naturalist’s volunteer of the year, 2012.
Anyone can support the Field Naturalists in their work to enhance Scout Island and its programs by attending the annual banquet coming up on Friday, April 5.
Tickets are available at the Open Book and from club members and at the Nature Centre during opening hours.