August 30th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 35
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BearSmart Youth program kicks off this season
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Stock photo
ANNA KROUPINA
Pass Herald Reporter
It’s been a hot, dry summer, and that means that the apples are ripe for the picking earlier than usual in the season. It’s important to snag them at just the “ripe” time to avoid them becoming a bear attractant in the community.

Sixteen-year-old Reece Brown has started a BearSmart Youth initiative to get more young people involved in community apple picking.

For the past three years, Reece has been joining his mother Mandee, treasurer of BearSmart, in helping pick apples. Children of BearSmart employees and volunteers have regularly been helping pick apples each season, but it’s still a laborious task with not enough hand.

That’s when Mandee approached her son to recruit other young people for the apple picking.
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“We’re trying to engage kids and get kids outside of our own children involved,” says Mandee. “We’ve gotten a lot of our kids helping to pick apples over the years. It’s a lot of work, so it was suggested to get more youth involved and I asked Reece if he would coordinate a bunch of other kids to get them to help us out because more hands makes the work so much easier.”

Youth picking will be focused on helping out seniors and those with disabilities that are unable to do it.

“I think that it’s good to teach and encourage our youth to get involved in programs that benefit the community,” says president of the Crownsest Pass BearSmart Association Christy Pool. “It gives the youth a sense of responsibility and accomplishment for themselves but in the same batch, it gives those people who are unable to [pick apples] someone to rely on to help them out.”

For Reece, who’s entering grade 12 this September, this is also a great opportunity to gain volunteer hours for his university applications and scholarship applications.

“It’s about helping out the community. It’s just the right thing to do,” says Reece. “And anyone that does need those volunteer hours, you can help us and we can help you by doing this program.”
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Reece plans on getting his friends involved this year and other youth who might be interested by putting out a school announcement, hanging posters and creating awareness at the school.

“Kids respond better to kids, I think,” says Mandee. “I think we’ll maybe get more involvement this way.”

Apple picking is incredibly important come late summer and fall because it removes a major good attractant for the bears.

“With no food around, they won’t stick around,” says Pool. “It reduces risk of any conflict with the bears and at the same time, reduces risk of food habituating them to any areas. It keeps the community safer and it keeps the bears wild.”

Volunteers can take apples that are picked home and any excess are delivered to Hutterite colonies to feed livestock. Apples in particularly bad shape are taken to the landfill.

For any youth interested in getting involved with the BearSmart Youth apple-picking program, contact Reece via email at reecepbrown@gmail.com.
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August 30th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 35
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