Beach maintenance has been a controversial issue at Sauble Beach for the Great Lakes Piping Plover, an endangered shorebird.
Through her volunteer work with a local beach group, The Plover Lovers, Islay developed a strong passion for these interesting shorebirds. She took her passion to the next level, examining twenty-eight nesting sites and scrutinizing plover behaviours to determine if plovers prefer a “clean” beach. She found that the ideal plover habitat contained 40.5% vegetation and debris. Plovers spend 56.3% of their time on the wrack line, so raking the beach would definitely hasten their extinction.
Islay’s hard work and passion led her to compete in Bluewater Regional Science and Technology Fair, where her winning project earned her a spot on the team. At the Canada-Wide Science Fair 2019 in Fredericton, she shared what she learned and why it was important with judges and thousands of visitors.
And at the end of the week, her outstanding project was recognized as the top Junior project in Canada – winning her the Platinum Award, in addition to a gold medal, top Challenge award, Youth Can Innovate Award, scholarship, and the opportunity to share her project at the Broadcom MASTERS International program in the United States.
“Never be afraid to make mistakes and, when you do, acknowledge and learn from them.” – Islay Graham
For inspiration about how to design your own project, check out her presentation on ProjectBoard: https://projectboard.world/ysc/project/rake-wrack-risk-do-the-great-lakes-piping-plovers-prefer-a-clean-beach