Exploring the Campbell Valley Nature House

Written/Photographed by: Alyssa Lait

Have you ever been to Campbell Valley Regional Park? If not, I would highly recommend it as a day trip at some point. It features kilometres of trails, including flat, wheelchair accessible paths, such as the Little River Loop and the Perimeter Trail. There is even the Shaggy Mane Trail: 11km of combined equestrian and hiking trail. The park has various entrances off 200th street, near 16th avenue.

While exploring the park there is plenty to see, from plants to wildlife. Fortunately for you, there is even a place you can learn more about the ecology of the park! That would be the Campbell Valley Nature House, located at the Red Barn near the Annand/Rowlatt Farmstead, open on Wednesdays from 10:00am to 1:00pm, and weekends from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. I visited the park with Langley Volunteers member and long-time volunteer for the Nature House, Sylvia Anderson.

A variety of displays laid out for visitors at the Nature House.

When I arrived at the nature house, I was impressed by the condition of the barn. It was recently renovated to become the home of the Nature House facility, and thanks to the work of dedicated volunteers, it was looking great both inside and out. 

Once inside, I was greeted with various exhibits that featured the animals and plants that could be found in the park, and in Langley as a whole. This included stations for children and families to explore together, such as a station to dissect sterilized owl pellets, filled with different types of bones to identify, a weekly craft, and games themed around learning more about the wildlife in the park.

A Bobcat display, which has drawers underneath showing it’s diet.

With the help of the hosts-the volunteers at the Nature House-I went through the various stations and filled out a passport. I particularly enjoyed identifying the bird silhouettes that decorate the walls of the barn, and flipping through the wealth of information about plants that they have collected in a binder for guest use. The hosts also pointed me towards a list of some events coming up in the park, such as a Farmstead History Tour in mid-July, nature walks in August and visiting speakers that come directly to the Nature House.

So how can you help at the Nature House?

  • Become a host!
    • Host responsibilities include providing information about the park, greeting guests at the Nature House, and answering their questions about the displays.
    • Hosts work in pairs, so you can gain knowledge by working with your co-host.
    • If you’re interested in volunteering here, be prepared for three-hour shifts when the Nature House is open.

For more information about getting involved, either email Sylvia at ssanders@telus.net, call (604) 530-4983, or visit the Nature House in person.

More Langley Volunteers:

On Instagram & Facebook

Deb and Alyssa’s Visit to the Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Association

Written by: Deb Dolton Edited/Photographed by: Alyssa Lait

“I Can” by John A. Davies on a bookmark given to us during our VTEA visit. “I Can” is  a heartfelt poem that reflects the VTEA’s goals.

On June 25th, we visited the Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Association (VTEA) and met Board Member, Brenda Singbeil. She gave us a wonderful tour of the facilities, and gave us some insight on the program itself, which has been running since 1983.

Deb Dolton (Langley Volunteers) and Brenda Singbeil (VTEA).

The VTEA has been providing therapeutic equestrian programs for children and adults of varying abilities since they opened their doors, and then after they moved from their original location in 2008. Their current location at 3330 256th Street features 20 acres of land, including an indoor arena as well as winding forest trails to provide their clients with varied riding experiences. 

We had the opportunity to observe a young rider, Lachlan Ashley, on “his horse” Rosie. During his lesson, we were able to observe him taking a round in the arena as well as on the back trails. Brenda showed us the finer points of these courses, including the figurines hidden throughout the forest for astute observers to find on their rides. Alyssa can verify that there were many that we missed while we were walking the trail.

The VTEA has a very special group of eleven trained therapeutic riding horses – with the help of these four-legged friends and dedicated volunteers, riders are able to improve their physical, mental and emotional well-being. We met Sprite and Fiona who were getting tacked up for a couple of clients, who would arrive just as we were leaving.

Sprite, a young member of the VTEA team, getting tacked up.
Saddles for the VTEA’s eleven horses, with varying charming finishes.

The VTEA is very pleased to be able to support a new program for Seniors (65+) which has shown positive results and enthusiastic appreciation from clients. The goals for this program are to prevent falls, strengthen core muscles, help with stiff joints, improve balance, coordination, stability and flexibility. Besides the physical benefits, there is even more praise for this new program: it allows clients to learn a new skill, encourages social interaction with the volunteers and communication with a horse, leading to over-all relaxation of the body and mind.

So, how can you help out at the VTEA? Deb asked Brenda what kinds of volunteers are needed at the VTEA at the end of our visit:

  • Side-walkers to assist directly in the therapy sessions.
  • People interested in property maintenance.
  • Office functions, such as: 
    • Helping with grant applications
    • Board membership

You can begin volunteering at the VTEA at 14 years of age, and parental consent is required if you are under 19 years of age. Please visit their website or email info@vtea.ca for more information on volunteering, program participation or becoming a member.

One of the first buildings we saw when we arrived at the VTEA, the indoor arena.

We left with a better understanding of the important service they are providing to enhance the quality of life for all of their clients. We are very fortunate to have such a facility in our community!

More Langley Volunteers:

On Instagram & Facebook

A Look Inside the Langley Animal Protection Society

Written by: Deb Dolton

Photographed by: Ozden

Compiled by: Alyssa Lait

Deb Dolton and Ozden.

Deb and Ozden from the Langley Volunteer Bureau had an informative and fun visit at the Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS) on March 19, 2019 with Emily Bush who is the Marketing and Administrative Coordinator.

We thoroughly enjoyed and were impressed on our facility tour. We found the environment where the cat and dogs reside to be phenomenal.

Dogs have their own separate kennel rooms and cats who like to have their privacy live in unique condos where they can sleep, eat, and perch/jump and then communal rooms for those who like to socialize with fully enclosed outdoor exercise area.

Some of the “condos” at the LAPS.

It blew us both away that the dogs receive a minimum of 6 daily exercise sessions in their play-yards and social interaction with volunteer dog walkers. Emily mentioned they have two dedicated dog walkers who have been coming to LAPS five days a week for 15 years! They have a wonderful woodland environment with trails for the dog walks. They even have a “Tummy Rubbing” room where dogs can receive TLC after surgery or when they need that one on one time.

A unique program called “The Dog House” is a partnership between LAPS and the Canadian Correctional Service located on the grounds of the Fraser Valley Institution, a federal prison for women in Abbotsford. The program provides much needed services to members of the public (boarding services), sheltered dogs(training) and provides job skill training for offenders under the leadership of a professional trainer.

How many cats can you spot in this snapshot we got at the LAPS?

A new cat intake and isolation facility, “IS Oasis”, has opened up dedicated to providing medical care for ill and injured cats – the first of its kind in Canada!

How can you help as a volunteer at LAPS?

  • More kennel cleaners to assist staff in the morning hours are needed at present.
  • Other jobs available to you are:
    • Dog Walking Program
    • Cat & Kitten Foster Home
    • Community events and fundraising events
    • Reception team
    • Yard maintenance

More Langley Volunteers:

On Instagram & Facebook

Visiting Langley Lodge

On July 30th, 2019 we had the opportunity to visit Langley Lodge which is located at 5451 204 Street in Langley and receive a tour of the building with a Langley Volunteers director, Rudy Storteboom and CEO at Langley Lodge, Debra Hauptman.

When we arrived, we were greeted by an open, warmly lit room full of tables, which we would get a better look at when we returned over the course of our tour. Langley Lodge is a long-term care facility that has the goal of providing a space where seniors in their care can feel comfortable and at home. It is the first of its kind that opened in Langley, driven to create and maintain a local resource that the city had once desperately needed. Now, Langley Lodge has been expanded to two times its original building size, although the junction was hardly noticeable when we crossed the threshold.

As of now, the average resident age is 85, and 70% use wheelchairs. Langley Lodge provides service through their various mean, such as physiotherapy and hair styling provided by staff at the lodge. There are many different activities at the lodge as well, including art therapy given by some of the staff.

We took a tour through the upper floor, which has several activity rooms with tables and in the case of that floor, and a small selection of plants and gardening supplies. Langley Lodge believes that it is important to provide access to new learning opportunities and hobbies. Activities and events range from jigsaw puzzle solving to art to gardening! Often, this is a catalyst for new friendships alongside new interests which are important for people of all ages.

Once we’d explored the upper floors, we returned to the “bistro”, where we had originally entered. It’s where families can come visit their relatives who are residing at the lodge. Other residents include a trio of budgies and Walter the guinea pig, all of whom are cared for by the staff and volunteers at the lounge, and who can visit with families and residents alike.

Finally, we went out to the garden, which is tended by master gardeners from VanDusen in conjunction with volunteers interested in maintaining it. While staff provides ongoing care for residents, ensuring their health, volunteers are instrumental in helping with the programs that residents can enjoy during their time at the lodge.

To volunteer with Langley Lodge, you can apply online to volunteer on their website with a short application, and continue to support this fantastic space for Langley seniors!

More Langley Volunteers:

Visit us on Facebook.

The BC Farm Museum: A Look Into BC’s Agricultural History

Written/Photographed by: Alyssa Lait

Our directors singing at the BC Farm Museum! (left to right: Shirley, Jim, Velma. Sylvia, Deb, Karen, Rudy)

On July 25th, the Langley Volunteer Bureau took a trip to the BC Farm Museum (located in Fort Langley, at 9131 King Street). Our directors are deeply involved with this museum so it was a fantastic opportunity to see the place in person, Jim Mair is the president, Karen Long is the vice-president, and Deb Dolton is the recording secretary all as of 2019! Jim was able to give us a tour, with some help from Prescott, who helps which the archival system for the collection.

When you first arrive at the museum, you are greeted with several murals outside, which were painted by different artists as part of a project that the museum was doing to give visitors a glimpse into BC’s agricultural past. These murals can be found throughout the museum, and are painted by 7 local artists, put up in 2017. My personal favourite mural was the one that showed the evolution of agriculture from the days of the pioneers to modern day. It’s a huge mural, you won’t miss it if you go see it for yourself!

The museum itself spans King and Queen Streets in Fort Langley, however, it was built in two stages. The first building, whose entrance is on King Street was built in 1966. As their collection expanded, they had to build the second building on the lot to house tractors, windmills, carriages and similar artefacts in 1978.

The sheer number of artifacts can be overwhelming when you first step into the museum, but one of the first things you’ll see when you enter the museum is the bright yellow Skyway Tiger Moth hanging from the ceiling. This plane was modified specifically for crop spraying! You can read more about this artifact’s history on the Farm Museum’s website.

The Skyway Tiger Moth sprayer.

We were able to see the first artifact that was ever received for the museum, originally donated to UBC, inspiring the idea for the creation of the Farm Museum. It was eventually built in Fort Langley as a result of the founders’ efforts to make a dedicated museum to such artifacts. But the collection kept growing, the mezzanine above has smaller artifacts, including a new exhibit on horse harness making, which was recently donated, as well as a display on the different designs people made of barbed wire before it was standardized.

After we explored the first building, we continued to the equipment building, which housed some historical gas pumps and then tractors, carriages, engines from floor to ceiling. We saw a variety of tractors, ranging in date of production and some homemade, that were restored in the museum’s workshop (impressive in its own right, considering how old many of the artifacts are). We even got an interesting anecdote from Jim about JW Barry’s cow milker, which was driven by a treadmill that bulls would use. There are TV’s at certain spots in the buildings that show clips related to the museum’s collection, a good place to start when looking around.

A Ford Model T at the door of machinery building.

Once we’d finished our tour, Jim mentioned that some of the artefacts are borrowed by the PNE for display, and that the huge model horses in the main building are a trade for this favour done in the summer. You may get to see a few of the artefacts if you visit the PNE while it’s open.

So, how can you help the Farm Museum?

  • Volunteers are always needed to give tours, or participate in restoration if you have the skills to do so.
  • Financial support is also helpful, by becoming a member can help support the museum and keep it running in top condition.

For information on applying to help, you can visit the BC Farm Museum’s website, or visit the museum and ask about it in person!

More Langley Volunteers:

On Facebook

On Facebook

Love Horses? Check Out the Horse Protection Society of British Columbia

Written by: Deb Dolton

Photographed by: Ozden

Compiled by: Alyssa Lait

On May 3rd, 2018, Ozden and Deb had the opportunity to visit an amazing facility- the Horse Protection Society of BC (HPS) which has a beautiful, country location at 24463-16th Avenue in Langley right across the street from RONA. Sharon Wells-Ackermans – who is the managing Director and who oversees the care of the horses at the facility with her husband – gave us a wonderful tour. We learned a lot from Sharon in regards to the plight and mistreatment of many horses and we could see how dedicated she was to establish higher standards of horse care and public awareness of horse issues.

Ozden, Deb Dolton (Langley Volunteers), and Sharon Wells-Ackermans (HPS)

The facility is limited in number of horses they can take care of. At the moment they have 10 horses. Some may be placed in a new home or used in their educational programs. They have excellent programs in place, such as a rehab and care program for rescued horses, riding and horsemanship lessons for seniors, special needs youth and adults, and skilled work programs which target challenged youth.

Exciting things are happening here! A large outdoor arena was almost completed and a full-size metal horse is being donated, which they already have a concrete pad in place to display it on. Both will be fantastic for the facility.

We were first shown the tack room where the resident horses have all their gear in place.

The Saddles in the Tack Room.

They have two small thrift stores “Thrift Barn” on site where they sell donated items to help them feed, vaccinate, and provide other care for their rescued horses. One store has general household items, clothing, shoes, books & curios and the other store has tack & riding clothing.

We met a few of their horses which was fun. One in particular that both of us liked very much is called Connie. She is an Appendix (Quarter Horse x Thoroughbred) who is in her twenties but showed that she has a lot of spunk and energy still inside her – she is used for riding lessons and the horsemanship program.

A few of the HPS horses outside, with masks to keep the flies off their eyes.

If you love horses and want to help out- the HPS is the spot to be, where you can check out their volunteer opportunities, and become an important member of their team. They need help cleaning the stalls and paddocks, feeding, yard maintenance, upkeep of tack and tools, helping at the “Thrift Barn” sorting out merchandise and being a sales clerk, office help, grooming and fundraising

We really like their “Golden Rule”- We treat all creatures, human & animal with kindness, compassion and respect and this stands out very much on what we noticed with the time we spent with Sharon.

More Langley Volunteers:

On Instagram & Facebook

Donating Your Time at the Blood Donor Clinic

Written by: Alyssa Lait

Warning that there is some detailed description of the blood drawing process.

Recently, I visited a Canada Blood Services collection event at Church in the Valley in Langley to get an overview of the kind of work that volunteers contribute to the process of blood donation. To help illustrate my visit, I’ll walk through the donation process, to help illustrate what one can expect when they come to the clinic to either donate or volunteer.

When someone arrives to their appointment to give blood, they should have hydrated for the past few days, and had something to eat a few hours before their donation. Then, they will be checked in for registration, and complete a questionnaire to confirm eligibility. The first time I gave blood, this process was very straightforward, and I was helped at each step by the staff at the clinic.

The next step is the examination, where staff will conduct tests such as the finger stick test for hemoglobin levels, potentially take blood pressure and essentially give another screening past the questionnaire before you can donate. This is so they can ensure that you are able to donate safely and that your blood can be used once it is collected.

Finally, you are ready to give blood! Clinics will have multiple beds laid out, in the range of about six, depending on the size of the clinic. When it is your turn, you’ll sometimes be given something like a stress ball, and the staff will use a clean needle to collect from a vein. Because this is the deoxygenated blood, it will look dark red for most people. When I asked the staff about it when I first gave blood, they told me that athletes’ blood sometimes present a brighter hue due to increased oxygenation. Once your blood is being collected (450mL), it’s just a matter of ensuring that it is flowing properly, and collection only takes 10-15 minutes on average (I read a few pages of a book on my phone during my donation).

When you’re done, you’ll be helped to the refreshment area to recover. This is where the volunteers come in! Here, volunteers will chat with donors, and help prepare refreshments for them to enjoy after donations. Here, they give out cookies, juice, water, salty snacks, and otherwise provide good company for donors and their families. This is very important, since the volunteers are the last step of the donation, and can help contribute to lasting participation of donors with the Canadian Blood Services.

Whether or not you can donate blood, there are still ways to get involved with Canada Blood Services in the quest to give life. There are a variety of roles for volunteers, beyond the position I was able to observe, which you can explore by going onto their website for registration!

More Langley Volunteers:

On Instagram & Facebook

Upcoming at the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Facility

Written/Photographed by: Deb Dolton

Formatted by: Alyssa Lait

On May 31st 2018, I had the opportunity to visit the Northern Spotted Owl Breeding Facility which is part of the BC Conservation Foundation. I was not aware that this wonderful program is the first and only breeding program for this owl species in the world- located right here in Fort Langley!

Deb Dolton (Langley Volunteers) and Jasmine Culligh (NSO Breeding Program)

The work my tour guide Jasmine McCulligh and her team of four others are doing is amazing and so very important. The goal is to restore the population of the Spotted Owls through captive breeding and then release. These owls are one of Canada’s most endangered species.

Jasmine explained that this has happened because of habitat loss as well as competition from the similar Barred Owl which has invaded the Spotted Owl’s Range in recent decades. The big difference between the two species is the Barred Owl is more aggressive. The facility does have Barred Owls in captivity since they have learned more about the Spotted Owls by doing so.

I met “Forrest” today which was the first-born Barred Owl at the facility – he is used in their educational programs.

The facility is located on a large semi-forested property and you notice right away what a serene place it is. What a perfect environment for the breeding program and for the owls to reside until they are released. They have a number of aviaries where the 33 owls reside.

The tour began in the office, where I noticed charts of breeding information for the staff, volunteer chart of who is there and doing what, as well as owl diet charts. I met a couple of the other staff, Hannah and Katelyn.  Jasmine answered some questions for me and then we proceeded to walk around the grounds. Milo, a dog, also participated and was eager to show me around as well.

I was shown the Rodent Building where they raise both mice and rats which provides food for the owls. This building is kept very sanitary because health of these rodents is of utmost importance as it directly affects the owls’ health. They are producing good quality food, which allows the owls to hunt for the mice as well.  The owls will usually eat 2 mice a day.

The Rodent Building.

They would like to increase the number of volunteers (eight, at the time of my visit) to cover all the work that needs to be accomplished. I asked Jasmine what the top three areas of need were presently. They are the following: 

  • Yard Maintenance – I saw Vince who is the head caretaker, responsible for yard upkeep using a weed eater to cut back the brush- they are used primarily because it keeps the noise level at a minimum and do not use lawn mowers- they will use a tractor for larger upkeep needs. They need a team of volunteers to regularly help out with the Yard work which would be a big help to the staff which then gives them more time to do the work that they need to do directly with the owls.
  • Rodent House – Volunteers keep the house clean and feed the rodents.
  • Outreach and fundraising – They have been working on increasing their outreach into the community to educate and bring more awareness of the work they are doing at the facility so they need volunteers to participate in this and also with fundraising. They had a volunteer who has recently moved away who organized a great fundraiser and raised $2000 so they appreciate the ideas which helps them to continue to run this program.
  • Volunteers can also help out in the office.

Volunteers usually do not have direct contact with the owls which is the responsibility of the biologists and interns but they can definitely see the owls interacting on the grounds. If you love birds or have a passion for conservation this is a place which needs your help. Plus, at the same time you will be educated about these remarkable owls.  Shifts are usually 3-4 hours and you need to be at least 16 years old and have your own transportation to and from the facility.

New volunteers are given an orientation and are met at the facility entrance gate for the first time (like I was greeted). It is a huge property; they lease land off of the owner who also resides on the property. When I came through the gate, I parked my car and Jasmine drove me, along with Katelyn (who assisted by opening up a number of gates) to where the program is located. Along the sides of the road we passed some sheep grazing.

I definitely gained a better understanding of what Jasmine and her team are asking of their volunteers by having a tour myself, and knowing there is this important program happening right in our own backyard.

A promotional poster for the fundraiser coming this August.

They would like you to join them for a fun evening to help them celebrate the best breeding season to date and  are hosting a fundraiser on Saturday August 24th, 2019 which will include a buffet dinner- you will have the opportunity to come out and learn about the Breeding Program, there will be prizes and giveaways.

For tickets, more information about the fundraiser or to volunteer here, please contact the program:

By e-mail: nsobreedingprogram@gmail.com

Or visit their website for more options

More Langley Volunteers:

On Instagram & Facebook