Charity clearly starts at home for the Trout family.
When Olivia Trout was looking for a cause to help, her interest in preserving wetlands drew her to Heartland Forest.
“Olivia committed to raising $3,000 (the estimated cost of the project) for their Turtle Nesting Project,” Olivia’s mother, Yvonne, said.
It wasn’t the first time Olivia had committed to raising funds for a nature-related cause. She had previously raised money ($474) for Ducks Unlimited.
Fiddle in hand, the nine-year-old St. Catharines youngster set about busking at the St. Catharines Farmers Market and at Port Dalhousie beach to raise funds for Heartland’s turtle nesting project. Olivia wound up raising $600.
While fiddling was one thing, Olivia “pooh-poohed” the idea of a lake-to-lake bike marathon as another way of raising funds for the Niagara Falls nature park.
Enter Olivia’s sister, six-year-old Chloe.
“I saw my older sister doing lots of fun things for the turtles and I really wanted to help, too,” Chloe said.
“She had just learned to ride a bike a week before,” Yvonne said. “We were concerned about it but she kept saying, ‘I want to do it’.”
So she and her father, Robert, set out on a 50-kilometre trek on Aug. 13, dipping her hand in Lake Erie at Port Colborne to start it off. Initially, it was intended she tackle the distance over several days but Chloe managed to tackle the first 30 kilometres from Port Colborne to the Allanburg Bridge in Thorold in one day. She completed the trip from the bridge to the municipal beach in Port Weller on Sept. 28.
“On the first day I had to stop because my butt was getting sore, but on the second day it was my legs that were sore.”
And according to Chloe, the trip presented a chance for her to see all sorts of wildlife.
“I saw lots of animals like snakes, a red fox, and a turkey vulture,” Chloe said. “One time I had to swerve because a snake was crossing the path. I screamed!”
Chloe’s ride wound up raising an additional $600 for the nesting project, and Heartland Forest executive director Elisabeth Graham was impressed not only by the funds raised, but the commitment shown by both Trout girls.
“We are delighted that Chloe and Olivia have selected Heartland Forest for their Turtle Nesting Project,” Graham said. “It fits perfectly with our commitment to environmental stewardship and will be a wonderful addition to our Forest Discovery programming.”
Now that the ride is complete, Chloe said she was glad she took up the challenge.
“It took a really long time but I'm glad I did it because I got to ride my bike and I got to help the turtles,” she said.
The girls plan to keep raising money. An art show is being arranged in November.