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2023 Volunteer of the Year - DAVE THOMASSIN

Muskrat Watershed Council is proud to announce our Volunteer of the Year for 2023…

our Science Director, Dave Thomassin!

Originally born in Germany, while his parents were posted there (Armed Forces), Dave had the opportunity to see many places all over the world while he grew up. He has been a long time Ottawa area resident as well as Deep River, Petawawa, and Borden. Dave has been a Muskrat Lake resident since 2016 and cares a lot about the environment, and his community.

Dave is an avid fisherman and can often be seen out on Muskrat Lake honing his skills. In fact, he is so skilled in fishing that he used to do so competitively. His love for nature, the outdoors and protecting the environment drove Dave to choose a career in environmental management. A graduate of Royal Roads College with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Environmental Practice and a graduate of Algonquin College; Environmental Technician program, then Environmental Management & Assessment.

Currently Dave is an Environmental Health & Safety Officer with Tulloch and teaches part time at Algonquin College.

How Dave became involved with Muskrat Watershed Council

When Dave was asked how he got involved with Muskrat Watershed Council (MWC), he said that a colleague of his at Algonquin encouraged him to join. Then, soon after, the Science Director position opened, and he took the position. That was 7 years ago (2016), and since then the Science committee has morphed to suit the current projects, community and MWC priorities.

So, what does the MWC Science Director do? While there isn’t an official Science Director job description (MWC is all volunteers), the MWC ensures that they are informed by science for all projects and priorities. There was a Watershed Workshop several years ago, which determined many of Dave’s priorities, and guided many recent initiatives. A lot of Dave’s initiatives come from this list which provides guidance and inspiration, which can be selected based on the funds required and volunteer involvement available. Dave also looks for new ideas from MWC members and works hard to drive new projects with grant funding wherever possible to help drive even further improvement to our watershed.

Dave’s Volunteer Accomplishments

MWC asked Dave what accomplishments and involvement he is most proud of, and there was a lot for him to be proud with so many fantastic initiatives over the past 7 years. There was a long list of initiatives which included (just to name a few):

  • Love Your Lake project – shoreline assessment for all shores of Muskrat Lake

  • Natural Edge program - naturalization for 5 properties and planting 45,000 trees across 15 km

  • Stream improvement projects

  • Meetings with local community members to help improve septic and storm water pre-treatment.

  • Cobden Marsh studies

  • Cobden Beach bird deterrent measures

  • Beach mats installation and removal each year in the cold (along with our Treasurer Debbie)

  • Water sampling monitoring kits and tracking results

What does Dave hope for the future?

For the future of Muskrat Watershed, Dave notes that all we have accomplished so far is only a small drop in the bucket, small increments towards ensuring future generations’ water quality. The work we have done is important and is small and is intended for long term results. In the future Dave hopes to see bigger improvements with more people involved. He noted that the beach 3 -4 years ago, wasn’t cared for and wasn’t visually appealing, but giving the beach some attention brought more awareness to the community to care for the lake. Many small steps still make a difference in short time. Seeing improvements is encouraging but we still have so much more that needs to be done.

The Cobden Marsh is high on Dave’s wish list is to rejuvenate, protect wildlife, and make it more accessible, and remove invasive species. Essentially, he wants to see Cobden Marsh restored to where high nutrients are contained, run off is appropriately filtered, and where sensitive wildlife can thrive.

Dave also hopes that through education and awareness we can help people know the things to watch out for with algae blooms, and when the water is still safe (with a little knowledge it is really easy to still enjoy the lake).

Dave’s Advice

Dave encourages everyone to volunteer. Get involved. Nothing can get done without volunteers. Changing our destiny is about making change happen, get involved and don’t just talk about it. Every little bit counts.

Thank you, Dave!

Dave, we thank you tremendously for all that you have contributed. It all adds up to a very large and significant contribution to the Muskrat Watershed Council, the Muskrat Watershed, our community, and our environment.

For all you have done and for all you do Dave, we thank you and appreciate you!

Note that the MWC is actively recruiting volunteers to do even more big impact initiatives. If you would like to get involved attend one of our meetings or to find out more, please contact us at:

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