Famed environmentalist Baba Dioum once noted that “In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.”
It’s a sentiment Lauren Sherwood, one of the Capital Regional District’s three full-time park naturalist, believes every time she leads an interpretive tour in one of the regional parks.
Sherwood is part of a year-round program of outings and events hosted by the CRD whose aim is to help people get a little closer to nature and to develop an understanding and love of the natural world.
“I lead tours for all ages, from preschoolers through to adults, but I can tell you that the joy of discovery is common to people, regardless of their age. It’s just as possible to be amazed by nature at 60 as it is at six.”
The tours encompass all the CRD park properties and are led by park naturalists and a group of volunteers.
“What I absolutely love is when I see someone’s eyes light up as they learn something about nature that they have never thought of before,” Sherwood said.
“It’s when I know that I’ve been able to share a little bit of the passion I have for nature, and I’ve made a difference in the way that person sees the world.”
For folks in the Sooke Region, the next opportunity to take part in a guided tour happens when the Family Fun Walk sets out on Father’s Day (June 16), when Sherwood leads a group through East Sooke Regional Park.
People are invited to meet at the kiosk at the Aylard Farm parking lot (off Beecher Bay Road) at 9:45 a.m. Participants are advised to bring a snack, water, and wear sturdy footwear.
But there are a host of tours offered across the CRD this summer, including Going Crabby at Witty’s Lagoon, Snake Day at Elk Lake, and Cougar Capers at Francis King Regional Park.
In all, the CRD will offer more than 40 opportunities to get out and commune with nature during June, July and August.
“We’ve been doing these tours since the early 1980s, and they just keep getting more popular,” said Laurie Sthamann, a CRD spokesperson.
“For most of the programs, there is no pre-registration required and the programs run, rain or shine, every season of the year.”
And while Sherwood has only been conducting the tours for about three years, she has a lifelong passion for the environment that has found expression in her work in the Okanagan, at the Shaw Discovery Centre and in a variety of other locations over the years.
“Some of the things we do on our walks are sort of fun challenges. In one we blindfold a partner and leading them to a tree where they can touch and smell the tree and really get to know it. Then we bring them back, take off the blindfold and ask them to find their tree. Amazingly, people can actually find that tree again, having learned about it in a very personal way,” said Sherwood with a chuckle.