Dodecatheon bloom at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve

Dodecatheon bloom at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve

Nature is all in the family!

Edward, Melissa and Linda Bracken collect seeds at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve (Photo by Todd Carnahan)

Edward, Melissa and Linda Bracken collect seeds at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve (Photo by Todd Carnahan)

The Bracken family is in total agreement on just how special the Vancouver Island's Cowichan Valley is. They love living near Garry oak meadows and nature preserves, and are eager to be involved in protecting the natural beauty of their home community.

So when Linda Bracken decided to come out to a seed collecting event at the Nature Conservancy of Canada's (NCC's) Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve, it wasn't hard to convince her son, Edward, and daughter, Melissa, to help out.

“We want to protect these areas so that everyone can enjoy them for many years to come,” says Linda. “Sustainability and preservation are very important to us.”

The Brackens helped a crew of collectors extract nearly one kilogram of seeds belonging to a native species of lily and from dried pods of Great Camas collected in the Garry Oak meadows. This method of seed collection and dispersion has helped rebuild the native wildflower population on the preserve and on other Garry oak meadowlands in the Cowichan Valley.

"This hands-on learning in the field really complements our studies at school," says Linda, who is nearing completion of a double major in psychology and geography at Vancouver Island University (VIU), alongside Edward, who is working on a major in psychology and minors in geography and anthropology. Melissa graduated from VIU in 2015 with a psychology degree.

Some of this family's inspiration to help out stems from their shared experience being taught by the same geography professor at Vancouver Island University, Don Alexander, whom Linda describes as being “fabulous” and “passionate about sustainability.”

All three hope to pursue work in the environmental field, whether in environmental education, native plant initiatives or in parks and wilderness management.

“All of our VIU professors inspire their students to follow their dreams,” says Linda, “and to think locally and globally.”

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