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Now this was a great moment. These two are in the Education Program at UBC. The class they are currently working with is reading Magnifico -- which made me happy to hear. We met at Authorfest 2009 on the UBC campus and they were just brimming with enthusiasm in a way I hope all new teachers are.

I'm sure the highlight for everyone was the headliner, Robert Bateman, and his powerful talk about overpopulation and consumerism. Tiffany Stone was the lighter side of the equation and got us all on our feet at one point, I'm pretty sure. Then there's me, sort of a mixed bag of sentimentalism and stories, crammed into 15 minutes. So although an animal theme brought us together, it was a very eclectic program.

Bateman had one simple piece of advice for families that bears repeating. "Every family should take a nature walk once a week." In our house, we generally do, but it is easy to retreat from nature in the winter and we haven't been out, really out, in a while. Today, Bateman's words ringing in my ears, we explored the trail network behind Sutherland Secondary. Nature gave us a reward: the sight of two pileated woodpeckers hammering away at the trees. The wood was coming off in chunks and they'd chipped so deep, it looked more like the work of two beavers. I wouldn't be surprised if a week from now, those tree tops were down. It was impressive. When we got home, my daughter when straight for her Peterson Field Guide to confirm the sighting.

I think Robert Bateman would have been proud.

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