The Georgian Bay Biosphere is celebrating its 15th anniversary and they have an ambitious donor campaign underway. GBBR uses Earth Week to raise awareness about living more sustainably as well as raising donations.
Their environmental education work will once again be supported at the Biosphere bake sale, taking place at their office on 11 James Street, starting at 9:00am on Friday, April 26th.
This year, three local businesses will match donations during the month of April, including memberships. These are Desmasdons Boatworks, Desmasdon’s Construction and Beacon Marine, all in Pointe au Baril.
Tonia Blenkarn, co-owner of Desmasdon’s Boatworks explains part of what’s behind their support: “The Bay is an amazing resource we must share; seasonal cottagers, transient tourists, and the people who live here year round. We must all respect the Bay to ensure the next generations have the good fortune to be amazed like we were.”
Pollock says that one of the most common questions the GBBR gets is how does the Biosphere survive financially? “It’s easy to assume that a UNESCO biosphere reserve would be funded by UNESCO or the federal or provincial government, but that’s not the case. There is no operating support beyond the grants we compete for to support specific projects. Like other non-profit charities, we ask for memberships, hold fundraisers and appeal to donors. We aim to match every dollar that GBBR receives at least three to five times over, leveraging resources against government funds.” The GBBR reports over $500,000 in grants into the community each year.
Ron Chase is chair of the GBBR Board of Directors. He says: “We work with over 200 partner organizations from all sectors. This is “building capacity” and we see it as our essential role in working towards a sustainable region in eastern Georgian Bay.”
All funds raised this month will go directly towards education programs that last year directly reached over 1,200 children, as well as conservation research for the ‘State of the Bay’ program, and support for operational costs.
Donations over $20 are eligible for a charitable receipt, as are the memberships at $30 (senior) or $50 (family, individual). The GBBR is trying to grow their membership as well and lists all business and organizational members on their new website georgianbaybiosphere.com/members.
This spring there are several programs planned, including the 12th Annual Children’s Water Festival, held for area Grade 4/5 students at Killbear Park in May. Support will also help reprint the Kids in the Biosphere Activity Booklet designed to encourage families to immerse themselves in nature with wildlife identification, a photo scavenger hunt, science experiments, and more.
In the school year, Biosphere staff offer 30 different Lessons-in-a-Backpack, with walking field trips that make use of areas near the school yard as outdoor classrooms.
We have a range of programs,” says Delaina Arnold, Education and Stewardship Coordinator, “all of which meet Ontario curriculum requirements and aim to support teachers with resource boxes and a visit from Biosphere staff.” This spring, Early Learning Kindergarten classes are invited to do hands-on outdoor programs with the Biosphere, a partnership with the Near North District School Board.
“Earth Week is a good time to think about future generations and connecting them with nature – whether it is with insects under a log, talking about the decline of the monarch butterfly and how we can help, or giving them opportunities to touch species at risk,” says Becky Pollock.
“Donations of any size, new family or business memberships, and the purchase of cookies and cupcakes – all these things together have a tremendous impact and we cannot thank the community enough for their support.”
Anyone who would like to donate can do so by contacting the Biosphere (705) 774.0978 or going online at georgianbaybiosphere.com, or by visiting the bake sale at 11 James St, Parry Sound on Friday, April 26th 2019.