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Congratulations to Chris Black, one of two successful recipients of the 2019 John B. Holdstock Scholarship!

Growing up in a rural setting, Chris’ inspiration for conserving fish and wildlife habitat started early with collecting water quality samples in his local watershed.  Moving to the beautiful Kootenays, his passion for fishing and hunting grew and with time so did his concern for the fisheries of Kootenay Lake.

Wanting to do more, he got involved with Friends of Kootenay Lake Stewardship Society in 2016. He served as the youngest Executive Director, providing administration, event, and technical support for the organization.  He assisted with the planning and execution of the 2018 Duck Bay restoration project.  As a volunteer he provided water quality analysis, vegetation plans, maps, and citizen science training to bolster the restoration of water-foul and juvenile fish habitat in Kootenay Lake.

The Integrated Environmental Planning Technology Program at Selkirk College put his passion for conservation to good use. Taking courses in fish and wildlife ecology, hydrology, and botany inspired his new goal to become a habitat biologist and ecosystem restoration practitioner.  Graduating as College Valedictorian, Chris’ commitment to my academic community was honoured.  This fall he will be entering his final year of the Ecosystem Restoration BSc program at BCIT.  For his year-long applied restoration project he has partnered with a local environmental group where they will monitor, plan, and restore urban salmonid habitat. He will also prepare a Fish Habitat Assessment for Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Chris’ work history focused on water conservation for regional and municipal governments. He developed native plant landscaping guides and workshops, intended for the conservation of water resources and the enhancement of wildlife habitat and native plant diversity in the West Kootenay. Currently he works at Boundary Bay, a wetland of international importance. In his work he performs real-time restoration work to sensitive sand dune and wetland habitats by actively managing vegetation and park visitors. Chris likes John Holdstock’s saying, “The world is run by those who show up”, because it rings true to the type of services for which he volunteers.  In school he has been a student advocate, holding positions such as Class Representative, and Student Advisory Member to the Program Review Panel.  As well he offers peer tutoring in GIS.  Last year he assisted the development of a man-made wetland for Robson Elementary School, by providing vegetation planning.  Chris is an active member of BCIT’s Society for Ecological Restoration Student Chapter where he creates print media and staff outreach events.  He hopes to be elected to the executive board this fall.  He has also taken a lead role in a student-driven invasive species mapping project with the regional government.

One of Chris’ visions to is see the return of Pacific Salmon to the Upper Columbia River.  “As a habitat biologist I plan to bring light to important issues surrounding this goal,” he says.   

 Congratulations Chris and good luck in your future goals!