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