Friends of Wye Marsh is the registered non-profit organisation (# 10894426RR0001) that oversees the operations of Wye Marsh, whose staff are committed to connecting people to nature and promoting an understanding of the vital role wetlands play within the environment.
An executive director runs all operations of the centre. Year round education and recreation programmes for all ages and interests in both official languages (English and French) are designed to kindle the appreciation and enjoyment of this unique wildlife habitat. About 65,000 people visit the facility annually.
The Mission Statement is to spark a commitment to conserving wetlands, woodlands and wildlife by creating exciting learning opportunities in a natural setting.
Fund raising is ongoing and is becoming increasingly difficult. Wye Marsh receives funding from the private sector, however the majority of funding is self-generated through admissions, memberships, fundraising events, donations and gift shop sales. We rely on grants and foundations for necessary additional funding. Wye Marsh also runs various fundraising events and activities throughout the year including Sweetwater Harvest festival (Maple Syruping), the Annual Fundraising Dinner, Wine and Cheese & Art Show, as well as fun events like the Wye Marsh Swamp Rally.
Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre was opened in 1969 and transferred from Environment Canada (Federal Government) to Friends of Wye Marsh Inc. (non-profit) in 1985. It has been run successfully as a registered non-profit since then.
Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre sits on a 60 ha National Wildlife Area and is adjacent to a 920 ha Provincial Wildlife Area. Wye Marsh has legal agreements for both of these properties and their respective level of government, leading educational programs and excursions, monitoring access to a 30km trail system and canoe channels through the entire marsh.
The marsh is an IBA (Important Bird Area) and a breeding ground for fourteen threatened and endangered species including Least Bittern, Black Tern, Blanding’s Turtle and Trumpeter Swan. Wye Marsh has been a main cooperator in the Trumpeter Swan Reintroduction Program since 1988 and currently cares for and monitors approximately one third of the population in the province. This population has now reached sustainable levels with over 1,000 swans in the province of Ontario and Wye Marsh. Staff and volunteers are now in a monitoring phase.
The Wye Valley has many diverse habitats; marsh, bog, fen, fields, cedar groves, mixed hardwood forest and Oak Hickory forest. As a result the animal diversity is also high. Most land and wetland species in central and southern Ontario are found here throughout the year.
Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre is open year round and offers many activities and interpretive programs in addition to the more than 25 educational programs targeted to the Ontario Curriculum. Tourists and visitors can participate in guided walks, canoe and kayak excursions, family nature programs, mountain biking, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country
The Executive Director is the operational manager who reports to a Board of Directors (Friends of Wye Marsh). Currently there are 11 full time staff and 4 part time staff. Fulltime positions include: Resource Development, Human Resources, Stewardship, Program, Maintenance, Bookkeeper, and Reservations
All staff are encouraged to attend trainings that relate to their positions. All positions are posted locally as well as on the province wide job bank and environmental job banks.
Wye Marsh depends on volunteers to assist in all aspects of running the facility and utilizes over 500 volunteers annually. king, eco-tours, attend workshops etc.
Interpretation and exhibitry
The facility has both a handicapped accessible nature centre with classrooms and display hall as well as over 30 km of trails (some are accessible in all seasons), cabins, a marsh floating boardwalk, observation blinds (hides) and an observation tower.
Bilingual interpretive signage is placed throughout the walking trails with easy to understand information about species, habitats, and special features of the Wye Valley.
Formal (school and university) learning
Wye Marsh has programs for all ages, toddlers to seniors. School programs parallel curriculum expectations and are offered to the college level. Descriptions of all structured programmes are available on our web site. Training programmes for teachers are available during the year and further partnerships are being developed with teacher training institutions. Wye Marsh has partnerships with two Ontario colleges, teaching curriculum of Animal Care and Wildlife Rehabilitation.
A Master Falconer is on staff and the teaches the ancient art of falconry as well as using the birds of prey as ambassadors of conservation.
Informal (general public) learning
Visitors can participate in a guided program with a naturalist, a self guided tour using maps and the ample signage throughout the trail system, or use an audio wand that has stations throughout the marsh.
Many of the activities and interpretive programs at Wye Marsh are seasonal (canoeing, kayaking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, and hiking). During holidays and weekends, there are themed activities for families and tourists, live animal shows, family nature programs, and monthly full moon programs.
Wye Marsh offers rustic overnight accommodations to Boy Scouts and Girl Guides as well as school groups. Badge programs and interest programs are offered to these groups. Wye Marsh also offers “Badge Days” for scout and guide groups where up to three badges can be earned on site.
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