Attendees of the Scout Island fundraising banquet grab some food prepared by members of St. Andrew’s United Church. Patrick Davies Photo.

Scout Island celebrates successful banquet fundraiser

This annual event drew 115 people to St. Andrew’s United Church Hal

Good food and good company were enjoyed at the Scout Island Banquet on Friday, April 5.

Every year, to support their ongoing efforts to preserve nature and educate the community, Scout Island Nature Centre’s board of directors holds a banquet for members of the Williams Lake Field Naturalists and the wider community. It’s a popular event well attended by a loyal core of members and this year was no exception.

Close to 115 people attended the banquet, including eight children and guests, all packed into the hall below St. Andrew’s United Church. After a half hour of socializing dinner was served by the members of the church. Beef, mashed potatoes, lasagna and more were all enjoyed by the attendees, who talked of future plans and the importance of the nature centre.

Read More: Scout Island’s annual banquet coming up next month

A highlight of this banquet has become the delicious desserts made by Joanne Wright and this year was no exception. Within minutes of their arrival, they were picked clean and devoured to widespread praise.

After thanking and recognizing several of its members for their continued work for the Williams Lake Field Naturalists and Scout Island Nature centre, including its executive director Sue Hemphill, the mic was passed to representatives from the City and CRD.

Representing the City of Williams Lake, a key partner in maintaining Scout Island, was City Councillor Sheila Boehm who said she was happy to be there. Looking out at the crowd Boehm said she recognized a lot of familiar faces who do volunteer work in the community and was happy to see them show up and support Scout Island.

She said that she hopes in the future, the City will be able to work with Scout Island to build a proper walking bridge out to the island, which could cost close to $750,000. Boehm said they’ll also be looking at installing better signage and other quality of life improvements moving forward.

Cariboo Regional District Area D director Steve Forseth was there for his fifth banquet and said, while he wasn’t a fan of public speaking, he was happy to be there representing the CRD. While the CRD puts in $12,500 for Scout Island annually, he said he feels it pales in comparison to the hundreds of volunteer hours the Williams Lake Field Naturalists put in every year.

“We are thankful for such a wonderful facility, I know many of my constituents in my area make use of that facility and are deeply appreciative of what a wonderful gem it is,” Forseth said.

Ordell Steen, co-president of the Williams Lake Field Naturalists, said that most everyone on the board of directors agreed it was a successful night. Many of them, Steen said, particularly enjoyed the presentation by primate biologist Chris Shepherd, who joked he tried to make his presentation ‘happy.’

Read More: Torch passed for Nature Kids program at Scout Island

Shepherd talked about his experiences chronicling the primates of Southeast Asia at length with beautiful photographs of a wide range of species. Many of them were only inches tall and were endangered, largely due to deforestation and habitat loss to agriculture, especially palm oil farming.

All in all, it was a successful evening, with the funds raised from it still being counted. Steen said that all money raised from the night will go directly to supporting children’s nature education programs on Scout Island by paying naturalist teachers, providing learning materials and maintaining the nature centre.

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Blueberry butter tarts made by Joanne Wright were just some of a half dozen delicious desserts at the banquet. Patrick Davies Photo.

Chocolate cakes proved a popular dessert made by Joanne Wright and was cleared from the table within five minutes of being set out. Patrick Davies Photo

Sue Hemphill, a longtime volunteer with the Scout Island Nature Centre and its current executive director, received praise from the Williams Lake Field Naturalists for all the hard work she does for the community. Patrick Davies Photo.

Williams Lake Field Naturalist Fred McMechan cheerfully hands children their winnings from a door prize, books about nature and animals. The books were warmly received by their young recipients. Patrick Davies Photo

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