The South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club (SONC) is celebrating 60 years of nature conservation, education, and appreciation of the natural world.
The club’s first president was Stephen Cannings, the father of a well-respected family of scientists and educators. Cannings was a beloved naturalist and devoted educator about the natural environment. He is also credited as a driving force behind the preservation of the Okanagan valley’s natural areas.
Cannings, and close to 70 others, came together from across the South Okanagan to form the club.
“They set a direction that endures to this day: focus on the wise use and conservation of natural resources, encourage the exploration of nature and knowledge sharing, especially with young people, and record your observations in nature to share with others,” current President Alex Bodden said.
One of the reasons the club formed was out of the enjoyment that avid naturalists had for field trips together into the wild. That hasn’t changed in 60 years.
“Outings are the hallmark of SONC and something we do on an almost weekly basis to see how the birds and natural environment are changing with the seasons and environmental conditions,” said Bodden.
Over the years, SONC and its members have conducted children’s education programs, helped plant native vegetation along a rehabilitated section of Ellis Creek near Fairview Road, financially supported area land purchases for habitat conservation and awarded academic scholarships for environmental studies.
The club’s 2018 photo contest attracted more than 600 nature photos from throughout the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen and resulted in the publication and sale of Nature in Focus, the South Okanagan Similkameen, a 160-page journal showcasing the diverse photos from the contest.
Club members are also enthusiastic citizen scientists, contributing regular lists of bird sightings to e-bird.org, Cornell University’s online atlas of global bird observations.
In addition, SONC members are regular contributors to iNaturalist, a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society that connects over a million naturalists and scientists around the world via a mobile app to identify and discuss flora and fauna.
To celebrate the club’s 60th anniversary, there will be a celebration dinner on Sept. 30 at the Penticton Golf and Country Club.
The evening will feature a nature trivia contest, stories, photos, memories and more than a few birding tales. The club will also unveil a new logo.
The event is open to the public; tickets are available on the South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club website.
“The club always welcomes new members,” Bodden said. “Join us for one of our nature strolls to see if you enjoy exploring the natural environment with like-minded nature lovers or attend one of our club meetings and hear from an interesting guest speaker.”
For more information about the club and to contact a representative, visit the club’s website, southokanagannature.com
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