Ontario Nature Network

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist club is a member of the Ontario Nature Network.

Several articles featuring MVFN and our club history and initiatives have appeared in issues of Ontario Nature magazine, for example, the following article from the ‘Our Club’ section of the Summer 2009 issue.

Our clubs: Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

The lush Mississippi River valley is home to a member group fortunate enough to have a relatively pristine river valley as its namesake. The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) club, made up of nearly 200 members from Lanark Highlands, Carleton Place, Mississippi Mills and environs, recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary as a member group of Ontario Nature.

For two decades, MVFN has raised public awareness of and appreciation for the native wildlife of the Mississippi River watershed. The group offers nature walks, birding events and a summer-long canoeing program to explore nature around the water’s edge. Canoe season officially begins with the annual spring nature paddle at the end of June and culminates with a second canoe trip in September in Algonquin Provincial Park. MVFN’s outdoor program went international earlier this year with a trip to a monarch butterfly sanctuary in Mexico. Bolstered by the success of that excursion, the group is now planning a 10-day birding trip to Cuba.

MVFN also plays an active role in addressing environmental concerns at the municipal level. The group has provided input into cutting-edge environmental policies for the Town of Mississippi Mills Community Official Plan, adopted in 2005, and helped form three municipal environmental advisory committees.

In 2006, MVFN members paddled the entire Mississippi watershed, from Lake Mazinaw to the Ottawa River, measuring water temperatures along the way as a first step in a long-term assessment of the impact of global warming on waterways.

MVFN’s flagship Environmental Education Program is intended to supplement environmental education in schools. Five years of fundraising yielded more than $25,000 to support hands-on stewardship experiences for young people. In May, with funding from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, an educational program teaching grade 8 students about protecting sources of drinking water will begin.

This active organization also offers the Cliff Bennett Nature Bursary. The bursary, established by friends and family of the local naturalist and artist on the occasion of his 75th birthday, is awarded to a local high school graduate who is pursuing post-secondary education in environmental studies. Bennett continues to be an enthusiastic member of MVFN and leads many of the group’s popular birding outings.

In 1988, MVFN’s founding president Ken Bennett explained the title of the organization’s newsletter, the Whippoor-will: “This bird is a reminder of something we have lost. Yet, unlike some other losses of our natural heritage, this one may not be forever. One day, perhaps, the whip-poor-will may again become a common sight in Lanark County.”

To learn more about MVFN events and projects, visit www.mvfn.ca.

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