Our Storm Clouds & Silver Linings series tells stories of some Nova Scotia nonprofit organizations and how they’re rising up to meet the very real and profound challenges and opportunities for innovation during COVID-19. These stories are a snap-shot in time taken before the reopening process started.
Clean Annapolis River Project
Interview with Executive Director, Levi Cliche
Enhancing the ecological health of the Annapolis River watershed for current and future generations through science, leadership and community engagement is the Clean Annapolis River Project’s (CARP) mission. The health and care of the river habitat is hampered by COVID-19 in 2020 and beyond. The timing of COVID-19 along with requirements for social distancing and quarantine procedures affect everything.
Many multi-year projects like the restoration of the fish habitat, species at risk stewardship, and our climate change mitigation project are not progressing at a normal rate. “For instance, with turtle work, typically by now (April) a lot of volunteers would have been in the field searching for wood turtles,” says Levi Cliche, Executive Director of CARP. “Unfortunately that means that we’ll miss out on collecting some useful observations. For volunteers’ health, we don’t want people to break social distancing guidelines.”
For 30 years, CARP has developed projects ranging from public education to environmental monitoring and habitat restoration resulting in economic, social-and health-related benefits expanding beyond the Annapolis River watershed. Over 200 volunteers annually prove community engagement is clearly working. A dedicated volunteer Board of Directors and staff round out onsite human support for the habitat. Cliche remarks, “These numbers are severely reduced this year. Our core group of over 20 volunteers and staff are stressed, seeing years of scientific study interrupted. Even the annual River Festival celebration, our hallmark fundraiser, is cancelled.”
“The mental health impacts on the organization is another ball of wax. As we’re trying to figure it out, it’s hard to know how everybody’s really doing in isolation,” says Cliche, working from home. “We talk a little bit about the challenges we are having, and try to be understanding of moods and swings in productivity as we navigate this whole thing.”
Innovations necessitated by COVID like working from home are being considered for the future. “I drive a 100 km roundtrip to work daily. Working at an environmental organization, I always feel slightly guilty about the gas I’m burning,” remarks Cliche. “I’d like to be able to continue to work at home occasionally. As we find ways to efficiently do so, I think we’ll hopefully be able to adapt some of we’re learning and put it into practice.”