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A Teacher in Love with Nature
You know those teachers? The teachers you had in elementary school, who stand out in your mind and remind you of how great your childhood was? I believe I have found one of those teachers in Dresden. Lynda Weese is a retired teacher who enjoyed sharing her love of science with her students. She loves nature and always tried to incorporate it in her lessons. Driven by that passion, Lynda has also devoted a lot of her time to helping restore the natural environment in her own community over the years.
Lynda grew up on a farm in Lambton County, spending most of her days outside exploring. This is where Lynda first fell in love with nature. She spent most of her days visiting the wooded area and river close to her family’s farm. Living on a farm and being outside constantly was her way of life; it was what she was used to and enjoyed.
In response to the damage caused by four major floods in the 1900s, the Town of Dresden and the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority (SCRCA) initiated a process of purchasing the devastated properties in the floodplain area for restoration purposes. Damaged buildings were removed and the land was left as green space. In 1992 with financial support from SCRCA, the Town of Dresden, and local groups and individuals, improvements were made to the area. Sections were restored, and an arboretum, park, and gardens were created for public enjoyment. Lynda enjoyed working on the arboretum the most saying, “It would probably be the project that was closest to my heart because that’s the one that really got things started.” Where the arboretum is located along the Sydenham River used to be the main industrial area of Dresden. When the Horticultural Society in Dresden was asked to restore the area there were a few existing poplar trees planted on the site of the Robinson Thompson Lumber Company. But the rest of the area was just covered by shrub bush and concrete. In order to restore this land, the Horticultural Society had to remove the concrete and shrubs and plant a variety of trees. Approximately 180 Carolinian trees were planted 10 years ago. Lynda beamed with pride and accomplishment when she added, “Going through town, the biggest satisfaction I get is seeing people sit on the bench under the trees or sitting in the picnic area that we fixed up. It’s just nice to see people being able to use that area.”
When Lynda was an elementary school teacher her favourite grade to teach was grade four. She decided that was the perfect grade because the children were old enough to do interesting things in nature. She used to enjoy teaching her students outside. Lynda was a full time teacher for only about seven years, but that was enough time to inspire many students. One of her past students is now an environmental teacher at a camp in Toronto, and he thanked Lynda in a camp newspaper for helping him find his career path. He wrote, “When I went on those trips with Miss Paul (Lynda), that was when I decided, that was what I wanted to do”. Many other students that she has run into over the years have also expressed their fondness of her nature lessons. Lynda is happy to hear these stories from her past students. She believes that’s what makes it worthwhile – when you realize what you are passionate about has rubbed off on someone else.
Although Lynda does not teach anymore she has grandchildren who are becoming excited about nature and all the things she loves. She enjoys living through the experience again, and passing on her passion for nature to them. Growing up on the farm and being able to experience nature all around her was a big part of Lynda’s life, and she wants to make sure that her grandchildren get to experience that too. She also hopes that new generations will get a chance to experience the nature around them and be aware of its importance.