Jack Layton Award | Winner
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The key problem that this action project addressed was to raise awareness about our local wetland and the flora and fauna that live there in an attempt to create environmental stewards and students that are willing to create a sustainable future for their environmental community.
This action project grew exponentially over the school year. In the fall when I received my new group of grade 1/2 learners I decided to dedicate one afternoon a week to being outside at our local Jubilee Wetland. We would make observations and take recordings of everything from the water temperature to the local flora and fauna. I wanted it to be student led so the questions that the students had regarding our wetland and outdoor learning space were the driving factor behind our action project. By the time the Spring rolled around there were 3 things that really stood out for my students:
1) Why weren't there more classes out in the wetland learning about it?
2) What was the strange pond scum (algae) that was forming on the surface and how did it get there?
3) They were fascinated with our watershed and the fact that our wetland could be an indicator of the water that was draining into Trail Creek, the Columbia River and eventually the Ocean. They wanted the rest of the community to have a sense of sustainability when visiting the wetland.
In order to address the first issue, I applied for a grant with EcoLeague to purchase more learning tools for the wetland. We were hoping that all the nets, magnifying glasses and buckets would not only enhance our learning out there but would entice other teachers to bring their classes out too. I hosted a Professional Development Day for the staff at our school, introduced them all to the Wetland learning tools and gave them some resources to get outside. I'm happy to say that there are several teachers that have taken their classes out there. Fortunately the local high school Wood Working class built and installed a shed at the wetland to store all our tools, which the whole community has access to.
The second issue was the algae. After speaking to several biologists on the matter (including my sister who is an aquatics biologist), the students discovered that while algae blooms can occur naturally they can also be caused by an introduction of contaminants such as fertilizer and pesticides into the storm drain system. The students decided that we had to do something to protect our Wetland and painting the drains would be a good start to inform the community that what they allow to go down the storm drains could end up in our wetland.
The third point was to create an environmental sustainable legacy with the wetland. Once the students understood the interconnectedness of the species that live directly in our wetland, then the interconnectedness of all the waterways in the region, they began to see the bigger picture. I've been teaching them all year about the local flora and fauna in hopes that they would become environmental stewards and they thought it was important that the rest of the community learn about it too. We hosted our First Annual Bio Blitz on May 23rd, 2017. The morning was spent on hikes around the community with 455 students from 3 different schools working to ID local flora and fauna using identification cards. In the afternoon, all the students made their way through 13 different stations all around the theme of environmental education. Some of the stations included: wetland invertebrates, amphibians, local and invasive plant species, honey bees, bats, our watershed, forestry, nature journalling, aboriginal connections to the land and nature art.