Rouge Valley Conservation Centre


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2018 Rouge Valley Eco Exploration Event

Join us for this great family event on Saturday June 9, 2018! Explore the Rouge Valley and learn about the local ecosystem and its flora and fauna from wildlife experts. Learn about our native fish, bees, plants, mussels, snakes, turtles and birds from the experts while taking a stroll through the beautiful Rouge Valley.

Get your hiking shoes on, bring your camera and take part in our Guided Interpretive Hikes and Kids Eco Station Challenge.

See below for full details or email your questions to

DATE: Saturday June 9, 2018

TIME: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

LOCATION: Rouge Valley Conservation Centre, 1749 Meadowvale Road (north of Sheppard Ave. E.) in Scarborough

ADMISSION: Suggested donation of $5 per person.

All money donated goes towards the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre, Educational Programs and Events, and LivingRoom Interpretive Space.

PARKING: Toronto Zoo Parking Lot #3 (located across from the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre); there is no charge for parking.

Thank you to the Toronto Zoo for donating the parking lot to us for our event!

Please note: There is another event using Toronto Zoo Parking Lot #4. Please do not park in their lot.


Please join us for one of our themed Eco Exploration hikes great for all ages!

You must register to participate in these hikes, please sign up by emailing your name, contact information and number of people in your party to or sign up on the day of the event at the welcome booth. Space is limited.

Saturday June 9, 2018:

Guided Hike times:    10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.   or   1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Join us as we visit each of our experts and learn about our local species and ecology of the area.

Please wear appropriate footwear (hiking shoes or boots, running shoes; no open toed shoes or sandals). Bottle of water, hat, sunscreen and insect repellant with DEET are highly recommended. Please note, there is poison ivy along the trails and the possibility of ticks. Please read our Hiking Rules and Precautions and Ticks in the Rouge information below.


Take a walk along the Vista and Orchard trails and visit one or all of our Eco Exploration Experts.

Eco Exploration Experts:

Toronto Zoo, Adopt a Pond - Turtles

Courtney Leermakers is the new seasonal Wetland Field Technician for the Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond Wetland Conservation Programme, which designs and delivers conservation-focused research, restoration, and outreach that targets wetland species and their habitats. Prior to this role, Courtney worked at Fisheries and Oceans Canada as an Aquatic Science Technician with freshwater fish species at risk projects. She has also worked with the Haliburton Land Trust as a Turtle Technician Intern working on turtle road surveys analyzing the use of mitigation fencing. Courtney has completed the program Ecological Restoration Honours Bachelor of Science-Joint Trent-Fleming Degree/Diploma. Her next steps include starting a Master’s in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto Scarborough in partnership with the Toronto Zoo on a turtle road ecology project. Courtney has also volunteered the last two years at the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre assisting with hatchling husbandry work. It is evident from her work and volunteer experience that she has a passion for wildlife conservation and herpetology.

Freshwater Mussels

Mary Kate Whibbs and Melissa Bauch, Toronto Zoo, Aqua-Links Program

Mary Kate Whibbs is a graduate of the Master of Museum Studies program and the University of Toronto. Her research explored questions about value and what makes some species more appealing than others in zoo and aquarium settings, both in the public eye and in conservation. Mary Kate is the Coordinator of the Aqua-Links Program. She is responsible for the planning, delivery and expansion  of  the  program,  which  links  students  in  Canada  with  students  in  East-Africa  on  the  topic  of water  conservation.  She  facilitates  this  linking  over  the  internet,  monitors  and  troubleshoots  classroom hatcheries  in  Canada  and  coordinates  field  trips  for  the  live  fish  release.  She  also  teaches  participating students  directly  about  water  conservation  issues  in  both  of  these  significant  freshwater  regions  of  the world. 

Melissa Bauch is a biologist with approximately 7 years’ experience working with aquatic animals in the zoo and aquarium field. As the current Aqua-Links Technician at Toronto Zoo, her responsibilities include raising and releasing Atlantic salmon, a locally extirpated species, monitoring participating classroom hatcheries, and providing educational programs to students nationwide. She has also contributed to several areas of aquatic field research, including surveying, electrofishing, and habitat rehabilitation.


Scott MacIvor, University of Toronto

Cities present exciting opportunities for basic and applied ecological research, which can contribute to solutions for urban environmental challenges we face today and tomorrow. The goal of his research is to link biodiversity to ecosystem services in ways that connects people to nature and supports critical wildlife habitat.

The specific objective of his research program is to understand how people influence the ecology and diversity of plants and pollinators, and the interactions between them. In the lab, we examine these relationships at different taxonomic and geographic scales and at the intersection of other exciting topics in urban ecology including invasive species management, urbanization gradients, heterogeneity and environmental filtering, pollination for urban crops, and the design of green infrastructure, including green roofs.

Milksnakes and Connected Habitats

Marcus Maddalena, University of Waterloo

A University of Waterloo M.E.S, student with research interests, including habitat selection and use by a variety of wildlife populations, with the goal of developing effective management strategies. His undergraduate thesis compared two survey methods for white-tailed deer, and examined factors driving overwinter habitat selection by a Central Ontario population. He is currently working with Parks Canada and the Toronto Zoo to assess the population of Eastern Milksnakes, a species of special concern nationally, within the Greater Toronto Area. The project focuses on the Rouge Valley population of Milksnakes and their movement patterns. With the fragmented state of our urban green spaces, it is important to understand how Milksnakes move through these landscapes to implement effective management strategies. By identifying surrounding populations, we can then examine connectivity and the influence of potential disturbances on habitat selection.

Local Plants and Botany

Natasha Gonsalves, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority

Natasha graduated from Saint Mary's University with a B.Sc degree in Biology and from Sir Sandford Fleming College as Ecosystem Management Technician. She is currently a Field Biologist at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) collecting long-term monitoring data and carrying out field inventories of vegetation communities and flora species according to TRCA's protocols and the Ecological Land Classification System.

Local Birds

Jonathan Harris, Dillon Consulting

Jonathan is a Field Biologist at Dillon Consulting. He conducts herbaceous and woody plant surveys, species at risk surveys, ecological land classification, wetland delineation, environmental impact assessments, reporting (EA, EIS, technical memo, SAR screening etc.), site reconnaissance. Previously he worked as a Songbird Research Assistant at the University of Chicago. 

Fish and Aquatic Insects

David Lawrie, Citizen Scientists

David is currently an Aquatic Biologist with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and a member of the Provincial Redside Dace recovery team representing the TRCA. A graduate of Waterloo and York Universities, he has 18 years experience in the environment field. During this time David has worked in many areas including natural channel re-construction, bio-engineering and restoration, terrestrial and aquatic field surveys, planning development and permit review, and ecological analysis for the development and implementation of resource planning documents including Fisheries and Watershed Management Plans. David is also current the President and Program Direct of Rouge Valley Foundation operating out of the Rouge Valley Conservation Centre, and has spearheaded his own non-profit group Citizen Scientists, a volunteer based, aquatic environmental monitoring and education group.

Hiking Rules and Precautions

All participants are asked to follow the rules outlined here in order to enjoy a safe hike. Please note, there are ticks in the Rouge and there is the possibility of lyme disease. All participants are asked to come dressed in the following:

-Long pants and long sleeved shirt (light coloured preferred)

-Long socks

-Running shoes, hiking boots or rubber boots (no crocs, sandals or shoes with holes or openings)


All participants should also apply insect repellent containing DEET or icaridin and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Depending on the weather you may want to apply All participants are also asked not to go off trail and to walk in the center of the trail.

Ticks in the Rouge

Ticks have been in the Rouge for some time and they are actually everywhere, not just here (e.g. other Parks, Playgrounds and Backyards). Ticks are just a new reality of outdoor space in Ontario. Ticks do not fly or jump. They tend to "hang" on long grasses waiting to attach on to a passing animal or human. Some ticks can be found in leaf litter as well. Ticks are more likely to be found off trail where deer, mice and other animals roam as they are the main modes of transportation for the ticks. There is nothing we can do about the ticks in the park. But you can protect yourself by taking the following precautions:

-Do not walk off trail, stay in the centre of the trail

-Keep dogs on leash and on the trail (Please leave your dog at home for this event)

-Wear light coloured long-sleeved shirts and pants to spot ticks more easily

-Tuck your shirt into your pants, and pull your socks over your pant legs

-Use bug spray containing DEET or Icaridin on your skin and clothing (always follow the directions on the label)

-Wear running shoes or boots (no sandals, crocs or shoes with holes), and a hat

-When you are finished your hike, check your clothes, shoes, face, etc. for ticks before you head home

-Before you get in the car or heard home, do a tick check on your outdoor gear and your pets as they could carry ticks inside your car or home

-Shower or bathe and wash your hair within two hours of being outdoors to facilitate a prompt tick check and to remove ticks that have not attached yet

-Do a daily full-body check for ticks on yourself and your children, especially in the hair, under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs and around the waist

-If you find an attached tick, remove it with tweezers immediately. Removing it within 24-36 hours can help prevent infection.

-Put dry outdoor clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any remaining ticks. If your clothes are damp, additional drying time is needed. If you need to wash your clothes first, hot water is recommended. If the clothes cannot be washed in hot water, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes. (check clothing labels before doing this)

If you do find a tick, remove it or go to the doctor to remove it. Make sure that you read up on how to properly remove a tick if you do it yourself. Keep the tick in a bottle and send it in to Toronto Health to have it checked for lime disease. Ticks can take up to 24 or 36 hours to "bite" so it is important to shower and wash your clothes as well as do a tick check when you get home. For more information about ticks and lyme disease visit: