Longtime educator Margaret Lidkea appears on Oak Bay’s Wall of Fame in honour of her decades of educating the masses on environmental concerns in the community’s natural spaces.
For nearly 30 years she’s dug, hacked and replanted alongside young and old, teaching them all about how to restore parks.
It started in late 1992 upon her retirement as a teacher, when Lidkea garnered permission to take groups of young people through the park, helping them learn about invasive plants and why they were a problem.
“It’s important for me that kids understand why we’re doing what we do, and then they can go home and tell their parents. … It’s important for people in general to understand that we need to take care of our wild spaces. The population of the world is having such a huge impact on everything,” she said.
The Oak Bay Wall of Fame, a photo gallery hanging in Oak Bay Recreation Centre, honours people instrumental in developing Oak Bay’s parks, facilities and programs. Lidkea’s impact on park restoration, is second to none, noted Mayor Kevin Murdoch.
“For generations now, people have grown up with an appreciation of nature,” he said.
Any kid who went through a school in or near Oak Bay likely came across Lidkea. As an individual she’s put in thousands upon thousands of volunteer hours, but the exponential power of her leadership in volunteering, means tens of thousands of volunteer hours, which allows for grant applications that cover hard costs contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars, Murdoch said.
In 2019 (the year she was nominated) Lidkea organized, delivered and designed 175 restoration and education events. Those included: 13 public education and outreach events such as camas day and tide school; 133 school programs (such as 600 kids from Willows elementary swarming Uplands in search of invasive plants); and 27 restoration activities (such as ivy pulls) accounting for more than 1,000 volunteer hours.
“That was a typical year of Margaret contributing to the community,” Murdoch said.
For Lidkea, it’s teaching about the most endangered ecosystem in Canada, the Garry oak ecosystem, and the benefits of maintaining and restoring health natural spaces.
She’s starting to see the benefit in the next generation, as former youth volunteers come back with their kids.
“We have wonderful volunteers in our community which makes it a great community to live in. All of Greater Victoria has wonderful volunteer organizations,” she said.
She has high hopes for 2022 and the return of family programs.
“It’s really important and people have had more time with COVID and they will stop and talk for longer and ask questions,” she said. “They’re hungry for information and it’s all ages.”
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