Tag Archives: volunteers

H.I.T.: 20 Years of Grassroots Action

Whistler became the community it is today in large part thanks to the incredible natural wealth in our surroundings. However, the extent to which this natural wealth has been protected and preserved is a testament to the character of the community that has grown here.

A deep understanding of this intertwined relationship spurred Arthur De Jong to action two decades ago. Working as Mountain Planning & Environmental Resource Manager for Whistler-Blackcomb, Arthur was a frequent attendee at meetings where local environmental groups and engaged citizens raised a variety of ecological concerns. There was no shortage of will, but Arthur stepped in and created a simple, effective way to address these problems.

“Why don’t we have a group dedicated to fixing what they can within a short time-frame to address some of the smaller, easier-to-fix environmental issues in the valley?”, Arthur wondered. And thus, H.I.T. was born.

This past week the Habitat Improvement Team, or H.I.T. wrapped up their 20th summer of grassroots environmental rehabilitation in the Whistler Valley. The enduring success of the group is in large part thanks to the group’s deceptively simple structure (and, of course, Whistlerites’ enthusiasm for the local environment).

The H.I.T. team after a night rehabilitating the riparian zone. Photo courtesy Arthur De Jong.

Bi-weekly, all summer long, a group of volunteers come together and get to work on a predetermined project. Arthur coordinates the team and determines the work schedule, with input from local community groups. Whistler-Blackcomb supports the group with transportation support and a late après at Merlin’s for the thirsty volunteers.

A lot of the group’s early work focused on improving fish habitat in the valley by replanting native species in disturbed riparian zones, preventing suffocating erosion on adjacent trails and stream banks, and other rehabilitation projects.

W-B’s Wendy Robinson transporting native plants for habitat restoration.  Photo courtesy Arthur De Jong.


Over the years the group’s mandate expanded beyond ecological restoration to other environmentally oriented projects such as hiking trail maintenance and improvement, installing interpretive signage, cleaning up areas of high garbage accumulation, and packaging retired Whistler-Blackcomb uniforms for shipment to developing nations such as Romania and India. 

Getting retired uniforms ready for shipment. Photo Courtesy Arthur De Jong.

Just this summer, H.I.T. cleared parts of the Lost Lake interpretive trails, removed invasive burdock plants, packaged clothing for international aid, completed 2 work nights on the Ancient Cedars trail (more on this project in next week’s column), and helped build a pollinator garden at the Spruce Grove community gardens.


For their efforts, H.I.T. has been awarded a Silver Eagle for Community Relations by the National Ski Areas Association, and special recognition for business leadership at the Shift Conference for Public Lands Management in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. On a more personal level, Arthur notes that “it’s always a joy to walk through parts of the valley and seeing areas that H.I.T. was instrumental in restoring. That’s quite rewarding.”

And it’s not just Arthur who feels gratified. Many of the volunteers contributing this past summer have been involved for years, some nearly the entire 20 years that H.I.T. has been active. Ultimately the big winner is the local environment, which is greener, more productive, and more appreciated thanks to two decades of grassroots, volunteer-led efforts from H.I.T.

Happy volunteers. Photo courtesy Arthur De Jong.

IRONMAN Canada 2015

If you thought a regular triathlon seemed daunting, then the 140.6-mile course that makes up Ironman Canada will probably make you shake in your boots. The track consists of a 2.4-mile swim in the waters of Alta Lake, followed by a 112-mile bike course, and ends with a 26.2-mile marathon that finishes in Olympic Plaza for all to see (yikes!). Competitors have a strict time limit of 17 hours to complete the entire course in order to receive ‘Ironman’ status. For all those wanting to compete, it is advised that you start training well in advance.


The final leg of the triathlon involves a 26.2-mile run along the Valley Trail.

Whistler’s Ironman triathlon is only one of several long-distance races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation that take place all over the world. What was once the original Ironman race has now become the Ironman World Championships, held in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii annually since 1978. To qualify for the championships, one must successfully finish in one of the top spots during a qualifying Ironman event. Some notable competitors include Australian triathlete, Craig Alexander, who is a 3-time Ironman World Champion and currently holds the record for fastest Hawaii course time, and Natasha Badmann, 6-time winner of the World Championships and the first European female to win the competition. This year, Ironman Canada will be offering 50 qualifying spots for the World Championship.


The Ironman triathlon is considered to be one of the most difficult sporting events in the world. Athletes usually begin training at least 6 months prior to race day.
Photo from http://www.ironman.com

Despite the long-standing tradition of the race, Ironman Canada is relatively new to Whistler. Our world-class resort first hosted the competition in 2013 and has enjoyed 2 successful years thus far. Hosting the race in Whistler allows contenders to take in pristine mountains and breath-taking scenery (literally, they’re going to be out of breath), while competing in one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.


The biking portion is the longest section of the triathlon, consisting of a 112-mile track running along the Sea-to-Sky highway into the Callaghan Valley, back through Whistler, and up toward Pemberton.
Photo from http://www.nytimes.com

Ironman will be taking place in Whistler on Sunday July 26, 2015. Whistler Museum & Archives Society will be there at our Run Aid station, enjoying the race and keeping the athletes hydrated. We’re bringing along some amazing and generous volunteers, and the money awarded for our volunteer participation will be used on essential archival materials for our growing collection.

Ironman: Call for Volunteers!


Dear 2013 Ironman Volunteers,

The Whistler Museum is once again hosting a run-aid station for Ironman and we need your help!

The event in 2014 will take place on July 27th and we need to get as many people as possible on board to make sure it is a success!

This year’s station will be on the running part of the course on the valley trail East of Blackcomb Way. The shift will be 6pm – midnight. If you can sign up again this year please do. Ironman2013_small As well as contributing to the success of the race, Ironman also donates $1000 to each non-profit that hosts a station. The money will go towards housing and storing the Museum’s archives and artifacts to preserve our history for posterity.

To sign up take the following steps:

Go to http://www.ironman.ca

Click on “Volunteer”
Click here to volunteer
Scroll down the list and find Run Aid Station 10 Shift 2 on Sunday 27th July.
(Make sure you get the right station and shift, else you won’t be volunteering for the museum!)
Check the box beside the name
Go back to the top and Click Sign Up
Populate the screen that appears
Once you have signed up the Museum will contact you and answer any questions that you may have. You have to sign up via the site and not by contacting the Museum directly as all volunteers are required to sign a waiver.

We hope you can volunteer with us!

Many thanks,

Whistler Museum

Volunteer Opportunities

As any museum, archive or gallery employee will tell you, the way into the industry is more often than not through volunteering. Even if you aren’t exactly interested in a career in cultural heritage, or if you already have a career path set, volunteering in such an environment usually provides a very pleasant and enriching experience for everyone involved.

I (Assistant Archivist, Trish, here!) began my career by volunteering at museums in London, England and Rochester, New York. By simply offering my time, my life and career reaped huge benefits. The experiences, friends and connections have been unreal!

Okay, enough gushing about my experience with volunteering. The point of this tangent is to let you all know that the Whistler Museum is accepting volunteers for some of our upcoming events and we would love to have you!

We are currently looking for volunteers for two ongoing events/activities:

1. During February and March, every Thursday from 3pm-6pm we are hosting Kiddies Après. This is a very enjoyable craft-filled event. We are looking for those with experience and enthusiasm in working with children to help run these events.

2. The Museum is launching a pilot project in which we offer guided tours of our exhibits. The tours will be roughly 20 minutes and offered by staff as well as volunteers. We are looking for volunteers who are able to participate as guides as little as once a week. We currently have Rosemary Malaher volunteering every Thursday starting at 11:30am. We would like to fill more days with tours beginning at 11:30am and/or 1:30pm. If you are interested in volunteering for a tour position we can discuss a time and day that works best for you and us.

We want you to get as much out of volunteering for us as we will get from you, so tell us about your interests and what you would like to get out of the experience! We are very open to your suggestions and alterations.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact: collectionassistant@whistlermuseum.org