Wed. Nov 29th, 2023
staff looking in net with young host

Did you know our parks, moths and Discovery staff were featured on an episode of TVOKids Leo’s Pollinators Explorer Club?


The series was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Non-Fiction Program or Series for Children or Young Adults!

These awards are the Canadian equivalent of the Emmy Awards.

We sat down with our three Ontario Parks stars featured in this episode for an exclusive interview to learn more about their experience:

Mark Read, assistant superintendent

Mark Read is the deputy superintendent of Rideau River Provincial Park and Murphys Point Provincial Park, but at the time of filming he was the Park’s Chief Naturalist.

Assistant Superintendent showing how gray rat snakes climb trees

Mark, what kind of preparation did you have to do for your role?

I spent a couple of long afternoons at the Lally Homestead in Murphys Point, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Clearwing Hummingbird, the real star of the episode.

I watched one with the episode’s producer the night before filming, but failed the day of. Fortunately, Kathleen and the Pinery team were able to help us.

Why is it important to share stories like this?

staff holding snake

With its educational and exploratory concept, the program attracts and is designed for a younger audience. At the same time, it is able to capture and share the experience of people like us who work in this field.

It highlights just a small aspect of what our provincial parks have to offer and, through a fun program like this, brings Ontario’s parks into homes across the province.

Any final thoughts?

It was so much fun and fantastic to work with so many professionals.

It was obviously disappointing not to find the moth here in Murphys Point, but I’m glad Kathleen was able to triumph and save the day!

Kathleen Chayer, chief naturalist of the park

Kathleen Chayer is currently the Chief Naturalist at Killarney Provincial Park, but was working as the Senior Park Interpreter at Pinery Provincial Park at the time of filming.

staff standing at the rocky viewpoint

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Being filmed is not a regular part of your role on Discovery, so what was your experience like?

It was exciting to be filmed!

I’ve been lucky in my career to have been filmed for some things before, but I certainly wouldn’t say it plays a big part of my role, and I’ve never been filmed for something as big as a TVO production.

I grew up watching TVO content, so it was exciting to think about young people watching that content and becoming more familiar with our parks and the animals that call them home.

What kind of preparation did you do for your role?

person filming lake with camera

Leo’s pollinators He was already scheduled to be at the Pinery to film his Rusty Patched Bumblebee episode when we found out that even though Mark is an absolute superstar, they couldn’t find any Hummingbird Clearwings to film at Murphys Point.

That created a huge opportunity for Pinery staff.

The Discovery team was a true champion as I was able to rally all of the Discovery staff who worked during the course of filming at Pinery to go out and search the park for these friends.

In the end, we got two moths to take to the film crew. One of them was used for me during the “look, I caught one” section, and the other was used for close-up filming.

Did anything about the filming process surprise you?

The filming process was easier than I had imagined!

The TVO staff was fantastic. This was the first time I filmed with a director, which meant I wasn’t the one planning the shots or the direction.

They told me exactly what the camera would focus on and what I should do with my body. I was also impressed with the efficiency of the staff in setting up a microphone for me, etc.

Why is it important to share stories like this one that you were a part of?

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staff kneeling on the grassland

It was great to highlight Ontario’s park system to a younger audience and showcase the fact that while provincial parks are great places to camp, they are also incredibly important homes for species like the pollinators we all depend on.

This episode was the perfect opportunity for Mark to shine – he did a great job in his section and I think that only further promotes the skills our Discovery staff has.

The people who run Discovery programs across the province are experts in their park, both naturalists and interpreters. They have spent years honing their professional skills and that makes them excellent science communicators.

We need to know, Kathleen: have you seen the episode you’re in? How did that make you feel?

I have seen it.

I love Mark’s part. However, it is quite surreal to see yourself on television. And it’s hard not to be a little critical of “does my face always move like that?”

The Clearwing Hummingbird, resident of the park

The Clearwing hummingbird is a moth that lives in more parks than Pinery and Murphys Point.

Clearwing Hummingbird Feeding

We tried to interview him about the filming experience, but as expected, he didn’t have much to say as he was too busy feeding on nectar using his long trunk.

To see this amazing moth in action, look near its favorite food sources: milkweed, blueberry, lilac, thistle, and phlox.

Clearwing in lilac

Remember to watch carefully. Don’t let its flight confuse you into thinking it’s a hummingbird, nor let its fuzzy-patterned body make you pass it off as a large bee.

A great honor for everyone.

Thanks to Mark and Kathleen for sharing their time, expertise, passion, and parks. Both are shining examples of the work our Discovery Program does!

Congratulations to TVOKids and our staff for a wonderful educational nature series and well-deserved recognition!

To you, our faithful reader (yes, to you!): what are you waiting for?

Watch the episode featuring these two amazing staff members:

From Mark, Kathleen and the rest of Ontario Parks, congratulations to the cast and crew of Leo’s Pollinators Explorer Club on this incredible project and well-deserved nomination.