by Tracy McNaught, KTTC Chair

Our AGM was held on Saturday April 9 at the Orientation Centre at Riverview Zoo. We had a small but engaged turn-out of members (it was the first real spring day of the season after all). My thanks to all who came out.

So what did you miss? My witty repartee for one and some darn good snacks and drinks donated by kind members for another. During our time together we took a few minutes to recognize 2 volunteers who had donated over 100 hours in 2010; Sam Conroy and Dave Dracup. Sam does outreach for us and is a Lead Hand on our Worm Farm. Dave is a husbandry volunteer and looks after six large snapping turtle tanks. Thank you both for your dedication and attention to detail. We offered our thanks to these two but we also expressed appreciation for all our 2010 volunteers; Outreach, Fund-raising, Grant-writing, Husbandry, Medical, Communications, Board Members, together we are KTTC and we have done remarkable things to help support Ontario’s native turtles.

Dr. Carstairs shared some highlights of 2011, some of which we have shared with you in previous newsletters, such as our record 242 turtles treated or reared (over 100 of these were hatchlings recovered from injured of decreased mothers). Lynda Ruegg, our Outreach/Volunteer Coordinator shared the results she and her predecessor Kate Siena achieved with the help of our Outreach volunteers; 52 events and over 6,000 people were reached with our messages on turtle conservation! Our Facebook Page, Twitter posts and e-newsletters also reached record audiences and our membership grew to 175 people from just over 100 a year ago. Gina Varrin oversaw a complete revamping of our website and we introduced a new logo. Quite a busy year. And you noticed I mentioned our Outreach and Education Coordinators? Thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Johansen-Larsen Foundation we were able to hire a Coordinator full time for the peak season and part-time over the winter. Kate and Lynda were a tremendous assets. Through the support of Canada Summer Jobs we also had 2 summer students; Charity and Amanda. They helped support husbandry and medical care for much of the summer. We loved their passion and focus.

At the 2010 AGM I was excited about the possibilities around our new centre on Hawley Street but I was also a little daunted about the costs associated with it. Your Board presented a budget of over $100,000 with little money in the bank but plans for fund-raising. At this AGM we were able to announce that we met that challenge. It was tight at times. Very tight. Building-related costs accounted for a full third of our budget in 2010. But as you can see we went on to achieve some amazing results. My thanks to all the Board Members who helped make this possible.

For 2011 and beyond I see a need for us to leverage our partnerships like never before. In 2010 we took in turtles from Windsor to Kingston and Sudbury to the beaches of Toronto however the majority came from within an hour or so of Peterborough. There are few organizations in the province doing the work we do and with 7 of the 8 species of Ontario turtles At-Risk, we need to expand our influence. Partnerships will be our path forward. Working through like-minded charities, shelters, universities and zoos we can have a greater impact. At the same time we will have greater appeal to funders, some of whom see KTTC are having a predominantly local impact here in the Kawarthas.

Thank you for supporting KTTC and Ontario’s turtles. I hope you will continue to support us and the important work we are doing. As the 19 century naturalist Alexander Muir said, “When you pull on any part of nature you find that it is connected to every other part”. Mr. Muir recognized the complexity and interdependency of nature; an intricate web which includes humans. Let’s continue to support bio-diversity in our environment. You are helping protect bio-diversity and our environment through your support of our turtles.