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.

I met Graham Hilliar twenty-five years ago at Carnation Creek Experimental Watershed Project on the west coast with his father and uncle.  For five years, he has been volunteering with YER to monitor outmigration of juvenile salmon for Tsolum River Restoration Society.  Since 2008, Graham has done community support work for individuals with diverse abilities, assisting them with their daily activities and finding meaningful employment.  He has been on the board of Comox Valley Therapeutic Riding Society for three years and volunteered with Care-A-Van for two years.

Graham has a knowledge depth of Comox Valley ecosystems and demonstrates compassion for YER youth.  He is a keen apprentice and respectful in learning the lessons the past sixteen years have provided.  Fresh ideas and initiatives will come with introducing somebody new and there will be space for program expansion. 

This time of allowing changes is mixed with a discomfort of letting go.  It is a cycle akin to the autumn changes of salmon returning and leaves falling.

Wendy Kotilla

Youth and Ecological Restoration Program