Winkler Youth Keeps Wildlife Haven Beautiful and Clean

Canadian Parks & Recreation Association
/April 18, 2024

Everyday from dawn until dusk, residents and E visitors alike can travel to a hidden refuge in the City of Winkler that offers a haven for wildlife: the sprawling, 34-acre Discovery Nature Sanctuary (DNS). For Zeph Suderman, it’s a particularly special place. It’s where he and his grandmother often spend time traveling along the easy walking trails, and experiencing the space’s grassland, woodland, and wetlands. That’s why during the summer of 2023, the university student wanted to give back to this space – helping maintain the area for all to enjoy as a maintenance and beautification worker for the DNS.

The youth received this job opportunity thanks to funding from the CPRA Green Jobs Initiative, which is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Skills Strategy program. In his role, Suderman made sure the DNS stayed beautiful and clean – with tasks such as collecting litter, watering plants, and pulling weeds. He says he learned a lot about the importance of nature on the job, which he didn’t necessarily understand before as a visitor to the space. “This job taught me a lot about plants and wildlife, and why they are vital,” Suderman says.

He adds that working in beautification taught him important skills, such as time management, that he will be able to use in the future. “I would have to do some watering for a good few hours, then after watering, I’d go around and make sure that there was no garbage on the ground and clean up different areas. So I had a lot of different tasks I needed to get done everyday,” he explains. Jason Bartsch, assistant maintenance supervisor for the City of Winkler, managed Suderman and says the university student also developed a solid work ethic on the job. “Zeph had a very ‘get it done’ mentality,” Bartsch says.

“He always had a good attitude, which is something I always truly appreciated.” He adds that the grant meant a lot to the City of Winkler because the DNS is a precious community space that needs constant, special care. “We tend to be a lot more conscious of our footprint, and not using things like chemicals to control weeds,” Bartsch explains, adding that Suderman’s tasks such as weed pulling was were essential to maintaining the area without harming wildlife. “It requires a lot of manpower and hours to try and maintain this space, so it was really huge to get this grant and have Zeph be part of the team.” He says the funding also meant the department could hire an employee who had a special connection to the space, and deeply cared about keeping the DNS clean and beautiful for everyone to enjoy.

“We try to hire people that are invested in the spaces we manage, because we find the level of service is better if the worker has an interest in it,” Bartsch says. “It was intriguing to us that he would visit the space with his grandmother, and the special connection he had with this space really showed through his work.” He says that the funding also helped support the city’s maintenance department, which covers a lot of area throughout the community. “The DNS is kind of its own creature, and requires a little more attention to detail,” Bartsch says. “This funding meant we could give the DNS the special attention it needs.”

Subscribe for Updates

*By clicking "Sign up", you consent to receive periodic updates from Canadian Parks and Recreation Association by email, text and/or phone. You can unsubscribe or text STOP at any time. Message and data rates may apply. Read our privacy policy.

Be the first to comment

Profile picture for
Sign in to your account
Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.