Invasive Species Council of British Columbia

Volunteer Spotlight: Melissa Maslany

January 28, 2023

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you experience the nature around you? 

I have always been passionate about nature and learning about its intricate systems, and I’m grateful for the many opportunities I’ve had on this path. I did two co-op placements at the Wildlife Rescue Association of BC as a Wildlife Care Assistant. I was responsible for the overall care for nestling and fledgling songbirds, which involved frequent feeding, medical care, and health checks. One of my favourite tasks was examining ducklings for any health issues, and it was very rewarding to release these rehabilitated birds.  

I was an organizer for the City Nature Challenge this spring – an awesome worldwide BioBlitz – with a few ISCBC employees. I was intrigued by ISCBC’s youth program. It sounded like a lot of fun and a good way to meet new people, and I signed up as a volunteer right away. When I was looking for work opportunities, I reached out to Katelyn (Volunteer Engagement Manager) for help. Luckily, she needed a new Youth Coordinator and I’m now working for ISCBC in Kamloops! 

What inspired you to take action? 

I studied biology in university and learned about the impact of invasive species on the environment. Invasives are the second biggest threat to biodiversity. I am passionate about protecting the environment, so volunteering with ISCBC was a natural fit. I also used to think pulling weeds was just a temporary fix, as they always seemed to come back in my garden! But after learning how a volunteer weed pull event decreased the growth of a large Spotted knapweed patch, I felt less discouraged and more empowered to take action.  

What would you say to a potential volunteer?  

Volunteering is a great way to meet new friends with similar interests – especially if, like me, you have moved to a new city and didn’t know many people. It is also amazing for networking. By volunteering at different organizations, I was offered three other jobs after inquiring about potential opportunities. I absolutely loved all these organizations.   

If you could choose to have one invasive species eradicated forever, which would it be and why? 

Spotted knapweed! It was one of the first invasive species I learned about since moving to Kamloops. Like a lot of invasive species, it is a prolific producer and spreads very easily. Seeds remain dormant in the soil for a long time and mature plants spread by becoming tumble weeds. It is also allelopathic, producing a compound that kills plants surrounding it. This summer, I helped collect Knapweed root weevil for release at Lac du Bois, a protected grassland. Weevil larvae eat away at the roots, decreasing the growth of the plant. Grasslands cover less than one percent of the province and more than 30 percent of BC’s species at risk live in these areas. Having knapweed in these areas is less than ideal.  

Become a Youth Volunteer!

Join like-minded young adults to plan and carry out real-world activities. Support our goal to support healthy habitats and communities, keeping them free of invasive species. Learn more about becoming a youth volunteer!