Scout Island education facilitator Kim Zalay (left) and Scout Island education co-ordinator Bill Gilroy help facilitate the Great Backyard Bird Count in Williams Lake.

Scout Island education facilitator Kim Zalay (left) and Scout Island education co-ordinator Bill Gilroy help facilitate the Great Backyard Bird Count in Williams Lake.

Torch passed for Nature Kids program at Scout Island

Paula Laita is passing the Nature Kids baton on to Bill Gilroy and Kim Zalay.

Paula Laita is passing the Nature Kids baton on to Bill Gilroy and Kim Zalay. Both are former teachers and are looking forward to being part of the program that brings a variety of nature based experiences to children ages 5-12 years of age.

Bill is the Education Co-ordinator at Scout Island Nature Centre in Williams Lake.

He came to B.C. from the East Coast in the early 1980s. In his early years, he worked for Ducks Unlimited performing topographic surveys of wetlands and assisting biologists inventorying wildlife.

In other work with both government and non-government organizations, he gained lots of field experience as a technician in research involving red squirrels, woodpeckers, small mammals and rattlesnakes (some snakes had surgically implanted radio transmitters).

He has also performed bat census’ in the Southern Interior and near Williams Lake.

Bill worked as a park naturalist/interpreter at Wells Gray and Shuswap Lake Provincial Parks and served for seven years as Education Director at the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops.

READ MORE: Kids up close with nature at Scout Island

A fond highlight from these years was, he says: “The privilege I enjoyed educating the public about the park’s ongoing captive breeding-release program for burrowing owls, which were once extirpated from B.C.”

It was through his work as a park naturalist and with the BC Wildlife Park that Bill found he especially enjoyed working with children and therefore returned to university and completed his education degree. Subsequently, Bill worked for 14 years in on-reserve First Nations band-operated schools, including four years as a principal.

Prior to joining the Scout Island team, he worked for two years in public schools in Williams Lake, with the last year as a grade seven outdoor education teacher at Lake City Secondary’s Columneetza Campus.

Kim taught in the school district for 28 years, finishing off by being the teacher in the Grade 7 Outdoor Education program for its first three years.

Having taught grades 3-7, raised a daughter, and now enjoying three young granddaughters she enjoys the inquisitive nature of children of all ages.

Between the exploration of the seashores and forested areas where she grew up, and several years in Girl Guides, Kim has always preferred to be following a trail, watching the animals and changing seasons, and learning about our natural environment and the role/impact we have within that environment.

From September to April Bill and Kim will host free monthly family events at Scout Island that are open to all children accompanied by adults in our community.

During the summer months programs are planned that just members of Williams Lake Nature Kids are invited to.

These are often events that take the group on explorations away from Scout Island.

This is a good reason to join Nature Kids.

Registration to the Williams Lake Nature Kids program can be done online at naturekidsbc.ca or by picking up a mail-in registration form from the Scout Island Nature Centre’s front desk.

For more information contact Scout Island Nature Center at 250-398-8532 or check out the Scout Island Facebook Page, e-mail williamslake@naturekidsbc.ca, or visit their website at www.scoutisland.ca.


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