First volunteer experience leaves sailor wanting more

VargasGroup

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A sailor from Base Information Services is raving about his first-ever community outreach experience at a youth biodiversity camp in Clayoquot Sound.

Leading Seaman Matt Nicolle normally spends his workdays on a ship at sea or at a desk alongside. But for two weeks in August the 29-year-old turned his attention to rolling up his sleeves and pitching in with cleaning and landscaping duties at the Cedar Coast Field Station on Vargas Island, located five kilometres north of Tofino, B.C.

“I want to tell the story about my experience because I believe it will help others see that they can get special leave allocated for community service, and that there are all sorts of organizations that can use the help of Canadian military personnel,” he said.

LS Nicolle required written approval from the Base Commander’s office to be allotted the necessary 14 calendar days of community affairs leave between Aug. 3 and 16.  He then drove to Tofino and was ferried to the island. After arriving on the island, he assisted other field station support staff in running the summer camp program for approximately seven youths.

Cedar Coast Field Station’s mission is to preserve ecological health through research and education programs. The field station provides housing and accommodations, acting as a base camp for researchers, naturalists, artists, educators, and students to explore and observe the island and its surroundings, which is part of the region’s UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization) Biosphere Reserve.

Despite the beautiful oceanfront scenery, LS Nicolle admits most of his 60 hours of volunteer services were away from the ecological research and development. He cooked meals for campers and staff, did indoor custodial and cleaning duties, and helped with landscape maintenance projects on the trails and camp gardens.

He described his time as “an incredible experience” simply because of the mission of the field station.

LS Nicolle says, like many people, he strives to be more environmentally conscious in his day-to-day activities but wants to do more.

“It’s one thing for people in the military to talk about biodiversity and environmental awareness but it’s another thing to back it up with concrete actions,” said LS Nicolle.

During his down time, LS Nicolle explored the island and its surroundings. He even witnessed gray whales breaching the surface of the ocean just off of Flores Island.

“I loved the experience because it was all about helping youth understand and appreciate biodiversity, but also because it was something completely different for me to do. I would love to go back there and help out again someday.”

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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