Cindy Verbeek, Northern B.C. project coordinator for A Rocha Canada, an international Christian organization that promotes environmental education and conservation, was happy to accept a $105,000 grant for the Buck Creek Canfor Hatchery and Nature Centre in Houston, B.C. in October. The grant was awarded by the Bulkley Valley Community Foundation and will be used to enclose an outdoor shelter in order to create an indoor classroom space and enclosed office area. “This funding is an amazing gift,” said Verbeek, whose dream is to use this facility throughout the year to its full capacity hosting programs for school children, creation care workshops, and summer day camps. That can now be attained sooner than her long-term hope of one day fundraising to enclose the shelter sometime in the future.
A Rocha has been a life’s passion for Verbeek, who began volunteering over 20 years ago. In 2003 she began to work part time and since 2018 has worked full time with a small staff out of a northern B.C. office as part of the A Rocha Canada B.C. Hub. The team participates in education, conservation, and restoration work. Verbeek’s role is to develop and deliver environmental education programming.
“We are the only organization working directly on creation care issues in Houston,” said Verbeek, who is a member and serves as a deacon in the Telkwa (B.C.) Christian Reformed Church. “We have wonderful opportunities to partner beyond our community to do conservation and restoration research and work. At a time when many things might divide us in this world, our communities are able to speak a common language when it comes to the preservation of watersheds for our salmon. It really is a huge connection point.”
Related: An article from The Narwhal about how Verbeek’s A Rocha team supported “low-tech riparian restoration” to both recover fish stocks and mitigate flood losses in one B.C. farm.
The start of construction for the Nature Centre enclosure is not yet set, but Verbeek is overseeing the plans and also preparing for spring programming in the new facility.