News and Events

Since 2004 YER has provided youth aged twelve to eighteen with one-on-one work experience through ecological restoration methods, ecotherapy practices and mentoring support.

YER is funded by Ministry of Children and Family Development, Comox Valley Regional District and Comox Valley School District.

Through restoring local watersheds with community members, youth gain a sense of worth, belonging and place.

YER Celebrates 20 years of service

YER Celebrates 20 years of service

On July 1, 2024, Youth and Ecological Restoration (YER) achieves a twenty-year milestone of youth service in the Comox Valley.  Since 2004, four hundred and seventy-six youth aged twelve to eighteen have benefited from the one-on-one work experience program.  Through ecological restoration, ecotherapy and mentoring, they gain a sense of worth, belonging and place.

Youth Lead Eagle and Heron Tour – Royston Seaside Trail – June 9th, 2023 at 1pm

K’omoks Estuary holds immense ecological value for resident and migrating wildlife, and is essential for K’omoks First Nation. Since 2013, research during spring low tides was conducted to count eagles and herons feeding in the estuary. On June 9th at 1:00 pm at Royston Seaside Trail, two youth from Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER) will lead a public tour about the eagle and heron surveys.

YER Receives Funding from School District #71

Beginning in the 2021/2022 school year, Youth and Ecological Restoration (YER) was granted funding from Ministry of Education, Mental Health, which came through Comox Valley School District #71. The first year of funding was so successful that YER has been granted funds for the 2022/2023 school year.

Masters Greenway Youth Led Tour

The public is invited to a youth led tour of Masters Greenway on July 5th at 12:00 pm. Tour participants will learn about the natural history and human impacts on the park. Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) and Youth and Ecological Restoration (YER) have partnered to identify and map sites in the park where overuse and invasive species are causing negative effects. Biologist, Tanis Gower will lead the 2022 YER Phase II research project, guiding the youth and providing a final report for the CVRD.

Millard Creek Headwaters Youth and Ecological Restoration Phase II Project

Millard Creek is located south of the City of Courtenay and extends west into Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD), Area A. Millard Piercy Watershed Stewards formed a watershed management plan in 2001. Wendy Kotilla has lived in the upper watershed since 1990, and in 2008 started what has become a long-term database on her one acre property, and the adjoining ten acres.

Comox Valley Project Watershed Society Restoration and Reconnection 2022 Video

YER Founder, Wendy Kotilla, was featured in the 2022 Project Watershed video, Restoration and Reconnection. She was a founding director of PW in 1993. Wendy shared her perspectives on stewardship, and the value of traditional ecological knowledge and western science. Both are valid sources of data required to care for the Earth and other species we share this planet with.

Clayoquot Biosphere Trust – UNESCO Biosphere Region – Project Research Highlights 2022

From 1993 to 1998, Wendy Kotilla was involved with Clayoquot Biosphere Project as one of hundreds of people documenting the natural history of the Clayoquot River watershed. She was one of eight researchers highlighted in the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust Storymap. Her work focussed on longitudinal salmon distribution in the river. Due to this collective database, the watershed remains unlogged today.

Second Shamanistic Gathering and Conference In Finland from August 11 to 14, 2022

“ECOLOGY TRANSFORMS YOUTH”
Mielikki Kotilainen (Wendy Kotilla) has been drawn to nature for shamanistic healing and guidance throughout her life in Canada. Since the age of four, she has gone to rivers for solace. Nature rituals include witnessing eagles bathing and listening to ancient forest wisdom. Mielikki has engaged in Native American sweat lodge, bathing and Sundance ceremonies for over twenty years. Her ancestors came from Kivijarvi and Tampere in Central Finland.

Elders Guiding Youth

Oyster River Enhancement Society (ORES) has been a dedicated supporter of Youth and Ecological Restoration (YER) since the program began in 2004. Youth #6 was the first to come and help ORES volunteers with restoring salmon stocks to the river. In 2005, Youth #20 said that “ORES is a birthplace that brings life to the world. It is a place for fish to mate and we can help them.”

Goose Spit Park Yellow Sand-verbena Inventory 2021

The ecological inventory project was completed in CVRD’s Goose Spit Park during 2021. The work was done by youth participants of the Youth and Ecological Restoration (YER) Program , YER program leader (Wendy Kotilla), and a biologist.

Cumberland Forest Youth Led Public Tour August 20th AT 12:00 pm

Cumberland Community Forest Society (CCFS) and Youth and Ecological Restoration (YER) are excited to invite the public to a youth led tour of the Perseverance Creek corridor on Friday, August 20th at 12:00 pm. This section of forest was purchased in 2020 and is 225 acres in size.

Goose Spit Park Yellow Sand-verbena Inventory 2020

The ecological inventory project was completed in CVRD’s Goose Spit Park from July 20-24,2020. The work was done by youth participants of the Youth and Ecological Restoration (YER) Program (Iain Petersen and Madelynn Boschman), YER program leader (Wendy Kotilla), and
biologist (Carrina Maslovat).

YER Transitioning to New Blood

The Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER) is going through changes this fall. After sixteen years of YER being operated by one person, it is time to introduce someone else into the program leadership. This transitioning to new blood has been ongoing for a couple of years with the main goal of ensuring YER continue with its integrity intact.

Fall Start-up 2020 and Covid Plan Notice

The year of 2020 has been challenging for everyone. Youth and Ecological Restoration (YER) suspended operations when the COVID pandemic was first realized around the middle of March.

COVID Plan 2020

YER will commence the fall program during the third week of September 2020 with the YER COVID Plan in place.

Ecology Transforms Youth (35 min., 2019) – full film

In 2019 Youth & Ecological Restoration (YER) produced a tribute to the decade of work that has led to more than 360 youth participants reconnecting with nature. The YER film “Ecology Transforms Youth” was shown at the World Community Film Festival on February 2nd....

Seal Bay Nature Park Youth Tour

Seal Bay Nature Park is a spectacular Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) park protecting approximately 1,500 acres of maturing second growth forest. It was established in 1975 through regional lobbying efforts.

Morrison Headwaters Nature Preserve Youth Tour

Morrison Headwaters Nature Preserve is Comox Valley’s newest regional park. Comox Valley Land Trust and Comox Valley Regional District, along with many other groups and individuals recently purchased 55 acres of private property to add to the already protected 24 acre Beecher Linton Conservation Area. This is an incredible environmental victory for our community.

JOURNEY OF KNOWLEDGE (UVic Distinguished Alumni Award Speech)

On February 5, 2019 I was incredibly honoured to receive the award for 2018 Distinguished Alumni from the University of Victoria, Division of Continuing Studies. Below you will find a copy of the speech I gave at the event.I acknowledge we are on unceded traditional...

YER – New Documentary Film

Ecology Transforms Youth 2019 Documentary Film 35 min.Journey with several youth as they explore Comox Valley watersheds and ecosystems. The Youth & Ecological Restoration (YER) program was created by Wendy Kotilla in 2004. Guided by nature, YER engages vulnerable...

ECOLOGY TRANSFORMS YOUTH February 21, 2019

Youth & Ecological Restoration (YER) is celebrating three events on February 21st from 7:00 to 9:00 at the Upper Native Sons Hall. YER has now been operating in the Comox Valley for fifteen years; the new YER video will be shown; and YER founder Wendy Kotilla has achieved a University of Victoria (UVic) 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award.

University of Victoria Award

I have been nominated to receive an award as 2018 Distinguished Alumni for University of Victoria, Division of Continuing Studies.  The attached photo and biography will be published as part of the awards ceremony on February 5, 2019. I am incredibly honoured to be...

Youth Lead Millard Creek Fisheries Tour

Join us for the Youth and Ecological Restoration (YER) youth led fisheries tour at 3300 Fraser Road on August 26th at 12:00 pm. This a YERII project funded by Ministry of Children and Family Development and Millard Piercy Watershed Stewards (MPWS) (www.millardpiercy.org).

Millard Creek Headwaters Youth Tour 2018, August 3rd at 12pm

Two youth from Youth and Ecological Restoration (YER) (www.youthecology.ca) will be immersed in a five-day YERII project to learn about Millard Creek headwaters and the long-term water study.  Tim Ennis of Latitude Conservation Solutions, Shiva Farjadian from GW Solutions and Wendy Kotilla, YER Coordinator will share knowledge with the youth.

Nymph Falls Nature Park Youth Tour July 6th

On Friday, July 6th at 12:00 pm two youth from the Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER) will lead a 60 minute public tour at Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD), Nymph Falls Nature Park.  This YER, Phase II project is funded by BC Ministry of Children and...

Wendy Kotilla Presented with Cheque by the Courtenay and District Fish & Game Protective Association

In 2018 YER will have Carswell Film carswellfilm.ca create a video about the program.  This video will need to be filmed during the spring, summer and fall to follow the youth participants through their seasonal work.  YER is fundraising to cover the video costs of $5,000.00.  The first $1,000.00 contribution came from Courtenay & District Fish and Game Protective Association courtenayfishandgame.org at their April 9th monthly meeting when a cheque was presented to Wendy Kotilla.

YER gets a brand new brochure

YER has a new informational brochure created by Kris Trudeau at Halftone Pixel.  Please see the YER brochure below, which can be downloaded and distributed to anyone interested in the program.

Youth and Ecological Restoration Program helps vulnerable youth gain a sense of worth, belonging and place

Restoration of Natural Systems Program alumni, Wendy Kotilla, founded the Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER) in 2004 based on her own experiences of being surrounded by the healing powers of nature. The highly successful and unique program, located in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, provides vulnerable youth aged twelve to eighteen with one-on-one work experience through ecological restoration methods, Ecotherapy practices, and mentoring support.

Youth Lead Trent River Park Tour – July 23,2017 at 1pm

On July 23rd at 1:00 pm two youth from the Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER) will lead a public tour at Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD), Trent River Park. During the tour the youth will share details on the ecology, history and their knowledge of...

Youth Lead Bear Creek Nature Park Tour – July 31

Two youth will give a public tour on July 31st at 12:00 pm in Bear Creek Nature Park, which is located in Black Creek. This Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER), Phase II project is jointly funded by Ministry of Children and Family Development and Comox...

2016 Driftwood Marine Park Youth Tour

Two youth will give a public tour on July 16th at 12:00 pm at Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD), Driftwood Marine Park, which is located near Saratoga Beach. This Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER), Phase II project is jointly funded by Ministry of...

Youth Lead Tour at Headquarters Townsite Park

On August 20th at 12:00 pm the Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER) will have two youth lead a tour at Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD), Headquarters Townsite Park.  This is a YER, Phase II project funded by Ministry of Children and Family Development...

Youth Tour on Oyster River Salmon

On July 10th at 12:00 pm the Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER) will have two youth, Michelle Burgess and Austin Waskul, lead a tour about Oyster River salmon. This YER, Phase II project is funded by Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and...

Youth Lead Bear Creek Nature Park Tour

On August 24th at 12:00 pm the Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER) will host the third and final 2014 youth led public tour at Bear Creek Nature Park.  This is a YER, Phase II project funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the Comox...

Discover Wildwood – Youth Led Nature Tour

July 20th at 12:00 pm two youth from Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER) will give a nature tour through Wildwood Marsh and Forest. This is a YER, Phase II project funded by BC Ministry of Children and Family Development and Comox Valley Regional...

Local youth program celebrates milestone

by  Renee Andor - Comox Valley Record; posted Jun 18, 2014 at 4:00 PM   Ten years ago, Wendy Kotilla started a program merging restorative justice and ecological restoration in the Comox Valley. Now, as Kotilla's Youth and Ecological Restoration (YER) program...

Youth Program Celebrates 10 Years!

On June 25th at 6:00 pm at Zocalo Café, the Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER) is ecstatic to be celebrating ten years of service with vulnerable youth in the Comox Valley.   Youth gain a sense of worth, belonging and place by working with community groups...

Youth Lead Great Blue Heron Tour at Royston Wrecks

On June 15th at Royston Wrecks, two youth from the Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER) will lead a public tour about Great Blue Herons.  This is a YER, Phase II project made possible with funding from Ministry of Children and Family Development,...

Lake Trail Living History Project features Wendy Kotilla

"Through the sharing of oral histories and traditional skills, the goal of the Lake Trail Living History Project is to reawaken our community heritage."  During a year of public programs with the Living History Project, young and old joined...

Youth Led Tour of Millard Creek Springs on August 16th

On Friday, August 16th at 11:00 am two youth from the Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER) will lead a guided tour of a mature second growth forest in the headwaters of Millard Creek.  The youth will be educating tour participants on the importance of...

Third Youth Led Tour of the Summer

Join us for the third Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER) tours at 3300 Fraser Road on August 24, 2012 at 11:30 am.  Millard Piercy Watershed Stewards (MPWS) restored a stream channel on Millard Creek to enhance fisheries habitat.  MPWS is partnering with...

YER Youth Led Walk at Seal Bay Nature Park on ShawTV

The recent Youth Led Tour of Seal Bay Nature Park was featured on Shaw TV North Island's Youtube channel and aired on Shaw cable TV. Watch the video below. The Youth and Ecological Restoration Program thanks Shaw TV for their work on the video and for sharing it. Make...

Wendy Kotilla and YER Featured in Vancouver Sun Article

The following article appeared in the Vancouver Sun, July 2012. Wendy Kotilla and the Youth and Ecological Restoration Program would like to extend their appreciation to Mr. Hume for his ongoing support and interest. -------------------- Healing power of troubled...

Youth Lead Tour of Seal Bay Park

On Friday, July 27th at 11:30 am two youth from the Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER) (www.youthecology.ca) will lead a guided tour of Melda’s Marsh in Seal Bay Park.  This is one of the most important Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) recreational...

Youth Lead Millard Creek Sensitive Ecosystem Tour – July 13th

On Friday, July 13th at 11:30 am two youth from the Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER) will lead a guided tour of a sensitive ecosystem in the Millard Creek headwaters. Earlier in the week, the youth will be mapping watercourses and vegetation to better...

YER WILL BE EIGHT ON JULY 1ST!

Press Release - 30 May 2012 The Youth and Ecological Restoration Program (YER) has two milestones to celebrate this year. On July 1st the program has been operating in the Comox Valley for eight years and over two hundred youth have participated. Funding is generously...

Spring Update

An e-mail sent out to YER supporters on May 10, 2012:   Hi All, I am pleased to announce that the Youth and Ecological Restoration Program website has recently been updated at https://youthecology.ca. Check it out and let me know what you think. There are a...

YERII YOUTH QUOTES

“Working with different people and learning different things about collecting data and different fish and being a leader instead of a follower. Pretty cool having lots of people listen to you and blow them out of the water. Some of those big words I said on the tour,...