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Group of teens get together to build turtle nest protectors as species face endangerment


In a display of environmental stewardship, a group of passionate youth in Waterloo region has taken action to protect endangered turtle species by constructing innovative turtle nest protectors.

“Well, ever since I was very young, I was in a school that was pretty nature directed, so it's kind of always been a part of my life and I think that our nature and our climate is pretty important,” said participant, Sydney Johnstone.

“We have a group of 14 to 18-year-olds here today and we've gathered them from all across the Kitchener-Waterloo area,” said Youth Leadership Specialist, Scout Skirrow. “And we're building turtle nest protectors because turtles are endangered in the KW area.”

Amid growing concerns over the decline in turtle populations due to habitat destruction and other human and animal-induced threats, the young conservationists have stepped up to make a difference in their local ecosystem. Led by a local youth program, Saturday’s event took place at the RARE Charitable ECO Centre in Cambridge. The goal of the event was to raise awareness about the plight of turtles and promote active conservation efforts among youth.

“Turtles are a very important native species that we have here in Canada and all eight of the species that we have here are at risk,” said participant, Mahnur Mehdi.

“It's just four planks of wood with some mesh on top and they go right over top of a turtle nest so predators like raccoons, unleashed dogs, anything that would try and get at these animals, including humans, we just kind of protect them,” Skirrow explained.

The nest protectors are meant to create a safe environment for turtle eggs to incubate and hatch successfully.

“They’re working with our charitable organization to build turtle nest protectors and all these turtle nest protectors they're building will go into the KW area as they find nests to protect them this year,” Skirrow said. “When they are not making nests, we have leaders within our group, all 14 to 18, who have taken a special interest in turtles. So they're leading turtle specific games, turtle specific trivia, they're leading different webinars to kind of educate youth about turtles and why this is so important.”

The construction of turtle nest protectors serves as a tangible example of the importance of involving youth in conservation efforts.

“It helps connect us to like minded people and also brings hope for the future,” Mehdi said.

“I feel like it's a pretty big problem right now, and it probably should be talked about a lot more than it is,” Johnstone said.

Skirrow emphasized the importance of nurturing a sense of environmental responsibility and fostering a connection to nature from a young age.

“I've noticed a lot of climate anxiety, a lot of, you know, end of the world thoughts, thinking there's nothing that they can do, that things are the way they are and nothing's going to change. But I find that doing something small that you can go out in the community and actually see some change happening, that's giving a little bit of hope and something to work towards.”

As the turtle nest protectors are deployed across Waterloo region, they serve as a beacon of hope for the future of wildlife conservation.

“These youth are really passionate and they're what are going to mold the future for us,” Skirrow said.

For additional information on turtle nest protectors specifically in KW, you can visit RARE’s website. Top Stories

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