Stettler’s junior forest wardens gain recognition for ‘caring’

Three members of the Stettler Junior Forest Wardens have placed well in a regional competition known as “Caring for Our Watersheds

Three members of the Stettler Junior Forest Wardens were rewarded for their entries in the regional contest

Three members of the Stettler Junior Forest Wardens were rewarded for their entries in the regional contest

Three members of the Stettler Junior Forest Wardens have placed well in a regional competition known as “Caring for Our Watersheds,” a contest sponsored by the Battle River Watershed Alliance.

Chad Mailer, Cassidy Munholland and Hannah Shepherd submitted their 1,000-word proposal to the contest, which attracted 102 entries.

Their proposal was selected to be one of the 12 finalists. The finalists each made a presentation in front of a panel of judges in Wetaskiwin on May 6.

The Stettler trio were the only junior forest wardens to make the cut. Their five-minute presentation was in the form of a skit and it garnered them a fifth-place finish, which was rewarded with a $600 prize for them and a matching $600 for their club.

The local group members, who are all in the adventurers level of junior forest wardens, chose to enter the contest because they thought it tied in well with this year’s theme of ecology. One dominant theme is studied each year, others being leadership, forestry and outdoor skills.

Their presentation dealt with the large amount of chemicals that go down the drain and end up in the Wastewater Treatment Centre, and ultimately into the watershed and environment.

“There are high levels of bad phosphates and nitrates in the Battle River Watershed,” said 15-yearold Mailer, an eight-year member of the junior forest wardens.

The project involved much research, learning about constructive wetlands and working with budgets. Their proposal dealt with ways to educate the public to use smaller amounts of chemical, or none if possible, or to use soaps that are less harmful to the environment.

“We hope to implement our proposal with the Town of Stettler, but are awaiting approval,” Mailer said.

Munholland, 14, also an eight-year member of the junior forest wardens, enjoyed the competition.

“Everyone was there because of their concern for the watershed,” she said. “We were friends. It was not intimidating, and we all had the same goal.”

Shepherd, 15, had a similar outlook.

“The program has a generous sponsor in Agrium, who supply financial assistance to implement projects,” said Shepherd, a fifth-year junior forest warden.

“They match donations you get, too.”

All agreed on how much they enjoy the junior forest warden program, which involves attending camps, wilderness survival, first-aid, canoeing, hiking, planting trees, leadership roles, protecting the environment and making friends.

“Girls were not allowed in junior forest wardens until 1973,” Munholland said.

“We had a lot of fun working on the watershed project,” Shepherd said.

Mailer and Munholland were quick to agree, adding, “We are the best of friends.”

LES STULBERG, Independent reporter