On the job with Jill.

We are pleased to welcome writer Linda Jones with her first article for the Conservancy.

Summer on Mayne Island always seems to fly by, and Jill Westby couldn’t agree more. A recent Environmental Science graduate from Royal Roads University, Jill has been working since May on several important Conservancy projects and will complete her contract in August. Bat survey work is just one of Jill’s responsibilities. The surveys have been conducted since 2016 and so far, five species of bats have been identified on Mayne Island: California myotis, Yuma myotis, big brown bat, hoary bat, and silver haired bat.

Jill has been working with Conservancy director Michael Dunn to co-ordinate site visits, complete bat counts on island properties, record bat calls, and collect guano to identify species. An Echo Meter attached to an iPad helps her locate bats and provide data for species identification.

Understanding BC’s bat populations is especially important due to the threat of White Nose Syndrome that has spread from eastern North America to the state of Washington. To date, no instances of White Nose Syndrome in bats have been found in BC. Grant funding from the BC Conservation Foundation helps support the Mayne Island bat survey project as part of similar efforts around the Province. Data collected will provide a valuable baseline if the disease takes hold in our region.

Jill’s Green Thumb

Tending to the plants at the Conservancy’s native plant nursery is a responsibility that has allowed Jill to develop her skills and interest in gardening. Watering, weeding and potting up are critical duties for the success of the native plant program. Staff biologist Rob has encouraged Jill to take on more responsibility for data management of the nursery, recognizing that this is an area of interest.

Depending on the weather and weekly priorities, Jill may be assigned to remove invasive plants in parks or map eelgrass beds around the island using a kayak and GPS technology, in addition to bat survey and nursery duties. The variety of activities keeps the job interesting and Jill enjoys collaborating with other staff members. Summer jobs provide valuable experiences for those starting their careers, helping to shape their future path and develop a network of contacts.

Meeting the Public

Community outreach is an important activity of the Mayne Island Conservancy. Jill enjoys meeting residents and visitors to the island at the Conservancy table at the Mayne Island Farmers’ Market, school programs and special educational events for the general public.

Jill was raised in Victoria, the oldest of three girls in her family. She is interested in remaining in southwest BC for future employment. Hiking is a favorite leisure activity—St. John Point is a favorite!

Stop by the table at the Farmers Market and say hello to Jill as you peruse the list of native plants available for sale and learn about other Conservancy projects.

Editor’s Note: A monthly donation helps support projects like our native plant nursery and eelgrass mapping. Please consider supporting Jill’s important work.


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