We recently sat down with Graham Peters, a summer student worker who joined A Rocha Manitoba to work on trail development and mapping at the Boreal Ecology Centre. Graham spent the summer exploring the current trails on the property and establishing and marking new ones.
How did you get involved with A Rocha?
I first got involved with A Rocha through my university. I’m currently taking Environmental Studies at Canadian Mennonite University, and in one of my courses we did a study on the Boggy River at the Boreal Ecology Centre. We did it for A Rocha as a preliminary look into the river so they would know what it is, and what to expect from it. Then this summer, Scott (Manitoba Director) reached out to my professor looking for someone to fill the trail development position, and she recommended me.
What did the day-to-day of your job look like?
Each day I would arrive at the Boreal Ecology Centre and look through my maps, notes, and GPS to figure out where I was going and what I needed for the day. Then, I’d walk the trails, plot them on the map, and mark certain points along the way. Points where I saw something particularly interesting like a cedar grove, or evidence that there were beavers there, or just a change in the dominant plant species. I’d also mark areas that needed to be developed, or if there was a tree down in the middle of the trail, or if I just didn’t know where the trail went.
How many trails are there?
There are … 8 trails I say tentatively. Because several of them are connected, so there are offshoots or areas where you’re on one trail but they can lead two ways. But I’ll say 8.
How was it spending time with Walter Loewen (the original owner of the property) on the trails?
He is exciting. He has a lot of really interesting knowledge about the place, and he told a lot of stories about the history of the area and how things have changed over time. He has this great story about the old quarry that’s out there. It’s definitely worth listening to if you talk to him! Ask him about it – tell him I sent you.
Your time with A Rocha is almost over, so what comes next?
I’ve got one more year of school before I’m done my degree, and after I’m not sure what’s next! I’d really like to be able to do something similar to what I’ve been doing out here. Basically being able to spend a lot of time outside observing and recording information about an area – be it the plants or animals, or the system as a whole – and then using that information to make comprehensive plans for conservation practices or projects.
Looks like A Rocha was a great place for you then!
Yeah, I think A Rocha sort of spoiled me in the sense that I don’t know if I’m going to find a job that is more exciting or better than this one! But through A Rocha I’ve definitely gotten a better sense of what I want to look for career-wise.
If someone was going to visit the Boreal Ecology Centre, what is something they would have to see while they’re out there?
Can I say all of it? There are a series of cabins along the trails which are sort of destination areas and are really cool to see. Another part you should definitely check out is any trail leading to the marshland. On the trails you can walk around the marsh area and get a really good look at some birds and the overall diversity out there. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a beaver as well!