Isabel Priestly founded the Saskatchewan Natural History Society or Nature Saskatchewan (the Society) in 1949. Its vision is one of “Humanity in Harmony with Nature,” and its mission is to promote appreciation and understanding of our natural environment through education, conservation and research, and to protect and preserve natural ecosystems and their biodiversity. During the early years, the Society focused on education about natural history through meeting programs and conservation advocacy; it has published the regional natural history journal Blue Jay since 1949. Since 1958, 23 special publications have been produced, including the Society history, The Isabel Priestly Legacy, in 1996. The Society also publishes a regular newsletter, Nature Views, and holds general membership meetings in late spring and early fall at various locations around the province; activities include local tours, resolutions, slide and award presentations, banquets and elections. Until the early 1980s, the Society was entirely run by volunteers; currently, a staff of 11 full time-equivalent positions based in Regina and elsewhere in the province conducts externally funded projects. Since 1981, the Society has received lottery monies to help fund its provincial office in Regina.
Nature Saskatchewan is represented on over 50 advisory committees and stakeholder groups, and actively lobbies governments for a better environment. In recent years, major externally funded programs have included voluntary habitat stewardship programs for species at risk (burrowing owls, loggerhead shrikes, piping plovers, and rare plants), shoreline conservation (Living by Water), the educational NatureQuest program for the schools (under development), Important Bird Areas in Saskatchewan, and Voluntary Sector Initiative pilot projects in habitat conservation and land management. The Society manages and inventories six nature sanctuaries: Turtle Lake, Rendek Elm Forest, Crooked Lake Fen, Van Brienen Land, Maurice G. Street Wildlife, and Brandon Land. With about 1,000 members in and outside Saskatchewan, it is the largest conservation organization in the province. It is affiliated with the Canadian Nature Federation, and with local natural history societies in Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Swift Current, Weyburn, Yorkton, Fort Qu’Appelle, Indian Head, Preeceville, and Luseland.
Robert G. Warnock