“If everybody does a little, it adds up to something significant.”
It’s a fitting adage for DUC volunteer Craig Little of Burns Lake, B.C. This belief in the power of small wins is what motivates him to volunteer his time in support of wetland conservation. As an avid outdoorsman living in a province that continues to feel the impacts of climate change—from floods to fires—Little is keen to do what he can for the sake of the environment.
For the past six years, the retired teacher administrator has been volunteering with DUC’s chapter in Burns Lake and lending a hand with local fundraising efforts including banquets and raffles. He recently assumed the role of education chair on the B.C. provincial volunteer council where, for the past year and a half, he’s taken on an exciting new project. Working alongside DUC staff and a dedicated committee of fellow volunteers, Little is leading the charge to establish a new province-wide volunteer initiative called the DUC Marshkeepers Program.
As Marshkeepers, volunteers are tasked with visiting DUC wetland projects and documenting waterfowl and other birds they see. They can also record whether there’s been any damages or changes to the habitat, serving as DUC’s eyes and ears on the ground.
“It’s a really good idea, which allows people—we call them citizen scientists—to record their observations,” says Little. “This gives people a chance to get outdoors, contribute to conservation, and help DUC at the same time. I call that a win-win-win.”
Opportunities to explore and learn about nature have attracted Little for as long as he can remember. He grew up in Victoria and when his parents built a house that backed on to a 30-acre piece of undeveloped property, he made a habit of hopping the fence in search of garter snakes and whatever wild things he could find.
“It was as wild of a place that you would find in a sub-division,” he says. “I spent most of my childhood roaming that property. Right from the beginning, I was fascinated with animals and nature. That hasn’t left me.”
In the province of B.C. alone, DUC maintains more than 575 habitat projects that span more than 450,000 acres. Volunteers who are part of the Marshkeepers program provide DUC with valuable information needed to effectively maintain them.
“We know many of our volunteers are interested in learning more about our conservation work,” says Tim Binch, DUC’s national manager of volunteer fundraising. “We’ve tried some of these hands-on volunteer activities in other parts of the country and thanks to Craig’s leadership, we continue to pilot the Marshkeepers program in British Columbia.”
In recognition of Little’s outstanding volunteer service, leadership and passion for conservation, he was named DUC’s Volunteer of the Year in B.C. Little also earned the honour of DUC’s National Volunteer of the Year, selected from a pool of outstanding nominees hailing from across the country.
“It was quite a surprise,” says Little in describing his reaction to the accolades. “I didn’t think I was going above and beyond the call of duty.”
But for those who have witnessed his commitment to conservation and have the pleasure of volunteering alongside him, it’s clear “a Little has gone a long way” and his contributions continue to make a meaningful difference in the future of the land, water and wildlife he loves.
From all of us at DUC, congratulations Craig.