The Kejimkujik Southwest Nova Volunteer Program
The Kejimkujik Southwest Nova Volunteer Program is a group of organizations (including Parks Canada, Friends of Keji, Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute and Bird Studies Canada) and individuals working to help species at risk and enhance environmental conservation in and around Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site and Kejimkujik National Park - Seaside.
Stewards help to protect endangered Blanding’s turtle nests, survey the shoreline with botanists for rare Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora species, monitor changes in water quality, create habitat for the Monarch Butterfly, monitor and track brook trout, survey and participate in research for the endangered Piping Plover, search for Eastern Ribbonsnakes, count loons on lakes in southwest Nova Scotia, provide information to visitors in the Keji campground, help remove exotic species like glossy buckthorn and green crabs, and much more.
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Volunteers work directly with researchers and staff on a range of projects to restore, protect, monitor and conserve the greater Kejimkujik ecosystem. As a volunteer, you will gain a deeper connection to this extraordinary natural environment. At the same time, you’ll play a very important role in helping to preserve and protect the animals and plants that depend on healthy habitats to survive.
Get involved in Piping Plover surveys at the Keji Seaside and help to monitor and locate plover pairs. In the fall, work with the team to restore piping plover nesting habitat. Volunteers can also also pitch in with the annual beach cleanup, which reduces the garbage build-up on key beaches used by these birds and other wildlife.
Months: Plover nesting surveys (May-July), Habitat Restoration (August-September)
In June, volunteers can participate in Blanding’s turtle nest monitoring at Kejimkujik, McGowan Lake and Pleasant River and protect turtle nests once they are laid with enclosures. This reduces nest predation by raccoons and increases the number of young turtles in the population. Volunteers can also assist with radio-tracking throughout the summer and hatchling emergence in the fall.
Months: June (turtle nesting), June-November (radio-tracking), September-October (hatchling emergence)
The Monarch Butterfly is a species at risk that requires the milkweed plant to survive. Join the Butterfly Club and create habitat for this species by planting a chemical free butterfly garden on your property! Friends of Keji obtained funding from the Canadian Wildlife Federation to plant butterfly gardens around southwest Nova Scotia with benches and interpretive signs. Check out the butterfly gardens in Kejimkujik and MTRI, and the interactive butterfly display at the Keji Visitor Centre.
A Keji classic! In Kejimkujik volunteers paddle the lakes looking for loons and chicks in the park in one day in May and August. For the Mersey LoonWatch program, volunteers monitor loons throughout the summer at a lake near their homes/cottages.
Months: late May and late August
Spring LoonWatch: Sunday, May 29 (rain/wind date June 5)
August LoonWatch: Sunday, August 14 (rain/wind date Aug 21) **POSTPONED TO SUNDAY, AUGUST 28th**
Who should come? ANYONE who enjoys paddling on lakes and observing nature.
Am I qualified? Yes! It is not necessary to be an ‘expert’ on Common loon biology, but you must be interested in them and care about their plight. You must also be comfortable with paddling a canoe. LoonWatch is in need of more volunteers!
How do I sign up? Email or phone Donna Crossland (Donna.Crossland@pc.gc.ca / 902-682-2293). You can choose a preferred survey lake at that time, or wait until we meet at Mill Falls to select a lake. (There are generally plenty of lakes to choose from, and each lake has its own charms.) We will ensure that you have a canoe partner if you are coming alone.
Meet at 9:00 am at the Mill Falls shelter to mingle with fellow LoonWatchers and to chat about loons. Snacks and beverages are provided. At this time, final lake selections are made for LoonWatch, and we will ensure that everyone has a partner and is properly briefed. Smile for a group photo shot before we depart!
Teams of LoonWatchers will canoe an assigned lake to provide a simultaneous survey of loon presence and reproductive activity. Lakes are surveyed from 12:00 noon until 3:00 pm. LoonWatch observation forms will be collected at the Visitor Centre following the survey. A canoe and associated equipment must be supplied by the volunteers. There are opportunities to rent equipment from Jake’s Landing canoe rental (682-2282).
What to bring?
- Canoe with paddles, life jackets and small craft safety gear
- Bug repellant
- Sun screen
- Bird field guide (if you have one)
- Camera (Send us some photos of YOU in action!)
Into the backcountry: Some LoonWatchers prefer to survey the more remote lakes in Kejimkujik. If you have a truck with suitable clearance, you may welcome a rare opportunity to drive to one of the lakes in the park's south end. Beware that roads are very rough there! For surveying our most remote lakes (Peskawa and Frozen Ocean), we accommodate one free night of camping on each lake on the night prior to LoonWatch. 'First come-first serve'! (Backcountry LoonWatchers must pre-register).
In case of inclement weather: High winds and/or extremely rainy days represent a safety hazard and can affect loon visibility. In case of inclement weather, LoonWatch will generally take place on the following Sunday. A final decision will be made at 5:00 pm on Saturday and a message recorded at 902 682-2293. You may call the recording to confirm whether the event is still on for the next day.
Join our team of fly fishing volunteers and collect data on fishing success, fish size, age and health condition. Share your experience and knowledge with other passionate fishermen like you! Fly fishing experience required.
Months: late April to June 30th
The salamander abundance is used as indicator of the forest health. Every year in the fall, staff and volunteers visit forest plots and look for those secretive forest creatures. Volunteers assist with salamander identification and count in remote backcountry forest stands.
Months: Mid-September to early October
• Search for the elusive Eastern Ribbonsnake by helping with visual surveys
• Survey for rare Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora with expert botanists
• Monitor the threatened Water-pennywort, which is only found on three lakes in Canada!
• Join the Friends of Keji and assist with visitor interpretive programs
• Become a campground host and visitor educator
Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute Friends of Keji Co-operating Association
Species at Risk Guide
Bird Studies Canada