Volunteer Champions

Champions plaques and agreements are not just for our committed landowners. We are also distributing these to volunteers who go that extra mile for Chimney Swifts. Recently three of our longest-serving and most committed volunteers became the first to become ‘Swift Champions’.

Frank Machovec
DSC_0255Most readers have probably had some sort of communication with Frank over the years. Frank served MCSI as its third coordinator, even volunteering his time for part of this period as funds dried up. Previous to that, he served on the MCSI Steering Committee and the board of Nature Manitoba. Frank also gave a presentation on MCSI at a national conference on Chimney Swifts in February 2013 and even made the Metro in his time (http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/our-communities/metro/Chimney-swifts-Wolseleys-cutest-residents-204341521.html). Since deciding to take a step back from the coordinator role and the Steering Committee, Frank has remained involved in MCSI. Frank, and his wife Jacquie, have spent many hours monitoring swifts. Going that extra mile, they do not do the obvious thing, only monitoring the swifts closest to their home in Winnipeg, they also travel further afield to Otterburne (btw if anyone can help here, please let us know), Saint Adolphe and some of the other commuter towns south of Winnipeg. Frank is still a vital cog for MCSI, serving as our webmaster. Being webmaster involves more than the occasional posting of a blog or a new document-it also involves updating information, improving the layout, contacting the web hosts and even seeking out a new web hosting (see the new blogsite Frank recently set up at https://mbchimneyswift.wordpress.com/. It is fair to say that even when taking a more backseat involvement in MCSI, we still rely hugely on Frank’s skills and endeavours.

Barb and Rob Stewart
Two other names synonymous with the MCSI are Barb and Rob. Most people probably know Barb, at least by email or phone, but Rob is perhaps less known to many volunteers. Their involvement in MCSI began back in 2007 and (possibly fortunately for MCSI) was due to Barb breaking her arm! During Barbs recuperation, Mike Quigley, the first MCSI coordinator, gave a piece on CBC Radio asking for volunteers to monitor Chimney Swifts. Unable to work, Barb responded and the love affair with Chimney Swifts began! Rob, more used to studying walruses, was told of his impending doom on arriving home from work and they promptly began monitoring in Saint Adolphe, and they have not stopped since! Over the years, Barb and Rob have monitored the five nesting chimneys in Saint Adolphe. Barb in her chair must be one of the most familiar summer sights in that small town. Both have also been brilliant ambassadors for Chimney Swifts in the town, enthusing local people about the cause. They serve on the Steering Committee, providing a lifetime of scientific knowledge to Chimney Swifts. Barb has recently taken care of the monitoring program, she writes fantastic blogs for the website, articles for newsletters, reached out to other organisations, recruits volunteers and liaises with Environment Canada about the National Roost Monitoring Program. All this as a volunteer. Rob and Barb , also coordinated the move of the St. Adolphe tower from its original location and  built a rain shield for it. Rob was also especially instrumental in writing the MCSI guidelines for nesting and roosting chimneys http://www.mbchimneyswift.ca/Documents/MCSI_artificialstructures2015.pdf.


Barb Stewart (left)  with Suzanne Leclerc

I am sure everyone would agree that Frank, Rob and Barb have been brilliant championing the cause of swift conservation across Manitoba. If anyone is interested in hearing more about the Swift Champions program or would like to nominate a volunteer or building owner, please contact Tim Poole at mcsi.outreach@gmail.com or 204-943-9019.

Tim Poole