Vol­un­teer­ing con­fer­ence draws big crowd

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Vic­to­ria Vanier Stanstead Québec

One of the big­gest prob­lems faced by many com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions in the East­ern Town­ships, as else­where, is find­ing vol­un­teers. That might ex­plain the good at­ten­dance at last Fri­day’s Vol­un­teer­ing Mat­ters con­fer­ence at the Col­byCur­tis Mu­seum, put on by the Que­bec An­glo­phone Her­itage Net­work (QAHN). Guest speaker at the event was Ali­son Stevens of the Vol­un­teer Bureau of Mon­treal. The key is­sues that were ex­plored in­cluded how to re­cruit, train and re­tain vol­un­teers, and how to keep them happy and mo­ti­vated.

“There are no sim­ple so­lu­tions but there are some uni­ver­sal prin­ci­ples. Ms. Stevens was very good at re­mind­ing us that we shouldn’t just com­plain about a lack of vol­un­teers, but ask our­selves why some­one would want to vol­un­teer for our or­ga­ni­za­tion and whether we are car­ry­ing out ac­tiv­i­ties of in­ter­est to vol­un­teers,” said Dwane Wilkin, of QAHN, who cre­ated the se­ries of Vol­un­teer­ing Mat­ters con­fer­ences along with Heather Darch, the cu­ra­tor of the Mis­sisquoi His­tor­i­cal Mu­seum.

“Gone are the days that vol­un­teers will just show up at the door. Peo­ple’s time is limited to de­vote to a cause and of­ten they want a vol­un­teer ex­pe­ri­ence, not nec­es­sar­ily the sta­tus of be­ing a com­mit­tee mem­ber,” ex­plained Mr. Wilkin. “There have been in­ter­est­ing stud­ies done on vol­un­teer trends. There are dif­fer­ent ex­pec­ta­tions among the dif­fer­ent de­mo­graphic groups: younger vol­un­teers are more likely to vol­un­teer than their par­ents or grand­par­ents, but for a shorter amount of time. They want to have a be­gin­ning and end time, they want to make an im­pact, and they want a clear job de­scrip­tion. Young peo­ple like to help, they are will­ing to help, and they have many skills.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Wilkin, spe­cial events like Town­ship­pers’ Day and the country fairs, known as episodic vol­un­teer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, are good start­ing points Par­tic­i­pants at the Vol­un­teer­ing Mat­ters con­fer­ence came from near and far to learn how to re­cruit and main­tain new vol­un­teers to their or­ga­ni­za­tions. for young or new vol­un­teers. “They have clear beginnings and ends, peo­ple usu­ally know what they have to do, and they can make a dif­fer­ence in some­thing that is of value to them,” he said, adding: “But we need a dif­fer­ent level of vol­un­teers for his­tor­i­cal and her­itage or­ga­ni­za­tions.”

Mr. Wilkin and Ms. Darch also wrote sev­eral use­ful pam­phlets about vol­un­teer­ing to pro­vide to con­fer­ence go­ers. For those who can’t at­tend any one of the con­fer­ences but would like copies of th­ese pam­phlets, they are avail­able at the QAHN of­fice, in Len­noxville, for a mod­er­ate fee.

“If your or­ga­ni­za­tion is strug­gling to find vol­un­teers, you should come and see one of our con­fer­ences,” con­cluded Mr. Wilkin. The next Vol­un­teer­ing Mat­ters con­fer­ence will be held at the Brome County Mu­seum, in Knowl­ton, in Septem­ber.

The Min­istère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP) would like to in­form the pop­u­la­tion that this year's first rac­coon ra­bies con­trol op­er­a­tion will take place from April 19 to 28 in sev­eral mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the south­ern por­tions of Mon­térégie and the East­ern Town­ships.

The op­er­a­tion forms part of the Govern­ment's 2016 rac­coon ra­bies plan of ac­tion, the aim of which is to in­crease the num­ber of rac­coons, skunks and foxes that are vac­ci­nated against rac­coon ra­bies in the sec­tors most at risk for the dis­ease.

A case of rac­coon ra­bies was dis­cov­ered in the Québec por­tion of the Ak­we­sasne Abo­rig­i­nal Re­serve in 2015. This was the first case of the dis­ease iden­ti­fied in Québec since 2009, and it was not viewed as a threat to the prov­ince be­cause the swampy en­vi­ron­ment in which it was dis­cov­ered is not con­ducive to rac­coons or skunks. The case was con­nected with an epi­demic out­break in the north­ern por­tion of New York State, where 15 an­i­mals suf­fer­ing from the dis­ease were found close to the bor­der with Québec in 2015; in fact, more than half th­ese cases were less than 5 km from the bor­der. The risk of rac­coon ra­bies be­ing rein­tro­duced into Québec is real, and the po­ten­tial im­pacts for pub­lic health are sig­nif­i­cant be­cause the dis­ease is fa­tal. Sur­veil­lance and vac­ci­na­tion oper­a­tions will there­fore con­tinue, to avoid a ra­bies epi­demic in Québec.

For the forth­com­ing spring vac­ci­na­tion cam­paign, teams of pro­fes­sional trap­pers co­or­di­nated by the MFFP will cover ten mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the East­ern Town­ships and six­teen mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Mon­térégie, spread­ing vac­cine bait by hand in the tar­get species' habi­tats.

The main ar­eas tar­geted by the op­er­a­tion in­clude wood­lots and water­side zones. In the East­ern Town­ships, the teams will cover the shores of Lac Mem­phré­m­a­gog and the val­leys of the Sut­ton, Mis­sisquoi, Coat­i­cook, Wal­lace and Hall rivers. In Mon­térégie, they will cover a 222 km2 area lo­cated be­tween the western bank of Rivière Riche­lieu and the vil­lage of Hem­ming­ford, as well as a 350 km2 area lo­cated south of Hunt­ing­don, en­com­pass­ing the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of Dundee, God­manch­ester, El­gin and Hinch­in­brooke, along the Amer­i­can bor­der. Vac­cine baits will also be spread man­u­ally in the Québec por­tion of the Ak­we­sasne Abo­rig­i­nal Re­serve. Call for pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion

Citizens liv­ing in the sur­veil­lance and con­trol zones can play a sig­nif­i­cant role in fight­ing rac­coon ra­bies. They are asked to be vig­i­lant and to no­tify the MFFP of any dis­ori­ented, un­usu­ally ag­gres­sive, par­a­lyzed or dead rac­coons, skunks or foxes, ei­ther by tele­phone (1 877 346-6763), or on­line, by com­plet­ing the re­port form (in French only) found un­der the tab en­ti­tled "Sig­nalez un an­i­mal sus­pect" at rage­du­ra­tonlaveur.gouv.qc.ca. In­struc­tions for citizens To en­sure that the con­trol op­er­a­tion is suc­cess­ful, citizens in the tar­get re­gions should fol­low th­ese in­struc­tions: Do not han­dle vac­cine baits (although they are con­sid­ered safe for hu­mans, an­i­mals and the en­vi­ron­ment). Throw away any vac­cine bait found in a pub­lic place. We rec­om­mend that you wear gloves to han­dle the bait and, if it is per­fo­rated or bro­ken, use a tool to place it in a wa­ter­proof con­tainer such as a plas­tic bag, so that you do not come into con­tact with the vac­cine liq­uid. Al­ways wash your hands af­ter han­dling vac­cine bait. If you in­ad­ver­tently touch a per­fo­rated or bro­ken bait, call the num­ber on the back of the bait or con­tact Info-Santé by dial ling 811. Do not cap­ture a wild an­i­mal (rac­coon, skunk, fox or other mam­mal) in or­der to move it to a dif­fer­ent area. If the an­i­mal is at the in­cu­ba­tion stage for ra­bies, re­lo­cat­ing it may spread the dis­ease to other re­gions. Never ap­proach un­known an­i­mals, whether do­mes­tic or wild. Take your pets to a vet and have them vac­ci­nated against ra­bies. Make sure wild an­i­mals can­not ac­cess your out­door garbage cans. If you are bit­ten or scratched by an an­i­mal, or if you come into con­tact with its saliva, clean the wound (no mat­ter how small) with soap and wa­ter for 10 min­utes and con­tact Info-Santé im­me­di­ately by di­alling 811, to ob­tain ap­pro­pri­ate med­i­cal fol­low-up if nec­es­sary.

See a vet if your pet is bit­ten by or comes into con­tact with a wild an­i­mal. About the Rac­coon Ra­bies Plan of Ac­tion

Rac­coon ra­bies oper­a­tions are man­aged by an in­ter-min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee com­posed of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Min­istère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, the Min­istère de la Santé et des Ser­vices so­ci­aux, the pub­lic health au­thor­i­ties of the East­ern Town­ships, Mon­térégie and Mon­treal, the Min­istère de l'Agri­cul­ture, des Pêcheries et de l'Al­i­men­ta­tion, the Mon­térégie and East­ern Town­ships re­gional pub­lic safety and fire au­thor­i­ties, and the Vet­eri­nary Medicine Fac­ulty of the Univer­sité de Mon­tréal.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on ra­bies in gen­eral and on rac­coon ra­bies pre­ven­tion oper­a­tions in Québec, in­clud­ing a map of tar­get sec­tors, or to re­port a dead or sus­pect an­i­mal, please visit rage­du­ra­tonlaveur.gouv.qc.ca

Photos Matthew Far­fan

The Colby-Cur­tis Mu­seum’s so­lar­ium was full, last Fri­day, for the Vol­un­teer­ing Mat­ters con­fer­ence/ work­shop pre­sented by QAHN.

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