Lifestyle

Salmon volunteers earn education bursaries

  - Leader file photo
— image credit: Leader file photo

The Pacific Salmon Foundation celebrated a banner year in 2013 for its bursary program, awarding funding to 10 university students across British Columbia.

Anna Smith, who volunteers with Tynehead Hatchery, received $1,500.

The Stewardship Community Bursary program is open to post-secondary students currently enrolled in their second year or later of a salmon conservation or aquatic stewardship program, and who demonstrate volunteer experience in environmental stewardship.

The program usually grants two to four bursaries per year, but the quality of applicants inspired the unprecedented decision to grant several more awards.

Volunteer experience is a key element of the bursary criteria and many applicants commit four to five hours per week for volunteering despite heavy school loads, making it difficult to take on a part-time job. The bursary program helps with financial barriers and keeps students contributing and learning through hands-on volunteer work.

“Volunteers are a critical component of salmon recovery in British Columbia. It’s important that young people get the support they need to have a well-rounded educational experience that includes volunteerism,” said Dr. Brian Riddell, president and CEO of the Pacific Salmon Foundation.

“Many people may not realize there is significant science behind community–based salmon conservation work; it’s not just buckets and gumboots. Volunteers undertake the streamkeeper training program developed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and have to continually adapt their practices to align with new science and policies.”

The Pacific Salmon Foundation supports more than 300 volunteer community streamkeeping groups across the province. Since 2005, the bursary program has awarded $38,500 to 34 students entering environmental fields.

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