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  • Caylie Gnyra

Vermilion River Naturalist Society Promotes Nature Network Speaker Series

The Vermilion River Naturalist Society (VRNS) enthusiastically promoted Nature Lethbridge and Nature Alberta’s most recent speaker in the Nature Network Speaker Series. Theresa Burg, professor of biology at the University of Lethbridge, gave an online presentation entitled “Using DNA to Track Birds” on January 10.

The series is a collaborative effort of Nature Alberta and its affiliate clubs. It features presentations by nature experts on a wide variety of topics, such as Indigenous Voices in Environmental Monitoring, The Wonderful World of Bees, What Bears Teach Us, and Mycelial Material Revolution.

Burg’s presentation highlighted how the landscape has shaped the dispersal of barn and bank swallows and the results on mountain bluebirds.

Formed in the 1980s by a group of local people who wanted to share their knowledge of the ecology of the Vermilion area, the VRNS is a member club of Nature Alberta and hosts local natural history activities throughout the year. As part of the Alberta Nature Network, the club and its members have access to events held by other clubs throughout the province, with club membership covering insurance for activities. During COVID lockdowns, some of the larger clubs with more resources started offering Zoom webinars, and extended the invitation to other clubs. Now, many presentations remain open to the public for free and available as recordings at

In-person VRNS activities include a Christmas bird count, group trips to various sites throughout the province, and explorations of local geology and archaeology. VRNS president Iris Davies says, “Being part of the Nature Network really helps because we can see what others are doing and what we can do here.”

The next major in-person event scheduled by the group is a spring bird count in early June, but Davies notes that member interest in geology and Miyawaki forests (i.e., lawn-sized miniscule forests) may shape the direction that future activities take, as many suggestions from new members.

Anyone with an interest in sharing and developing knowledge around local natural history is warmly invited to join the club by contacting Iris at, 780-853-7573, or the Vermilion River Naturalist Society Facebook page. “Come and join us,” she says. “If anyone has an interest in something, suggest it—local people with local interest and local knowledge can get to know the area around Vermilion together.”

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