Students from Robson Community School worked on trail improvements at Pass Creek Park last week.

Students learn about local ecosystems

Castlegar students participated in hands on learning experience.

Grade 7 students from Robson, Kinnaird and Twin Rivers Elementary schools had the opportunity last week to participate in an interactive real-life learning experience at Pass Creek Park.

Activities were planned in conjunction with a riparian planting project at the park (riparian refers to the interface zone between land and a river or stream). The planting project was funded by the Columbia Basin Trust and managed by the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) in partnership with the Regional District of Central Kootenay.

The activities were part fun, part work and part education. The students worked with the ONA crew on the riparian planting and also worked on some trail building in the park, working to improve the tread of the paths.

The Castlegar and District Wildlife Association (CDWA) organized and funded many of the activities, the tread supplies needed to work on the trails and the student involvement portion including busing to and from the park. The Castlegar Parks and Trails Society provided the tools and equipment needed for the project.

CDWA treasurer Lawrence Redfern explained why he was motivated to organize these events.

“I love the outdoors. When I was a kid, that was the entertainment and I had a blast and loved it,” he said. “I want to share that joy of what we have around us with younger people. Get them out and provide the tools and ability for them to have fun.”

Part of that fun was learning how to fly cast. Thanks to volunteers from the West Kootenay Fly Fishing Club students were mentored on the techniques required to make flies zip through the air.

New education directions in BC encourage personal and social competencies as part of the curriculum, this is part of the reason Redfern saw the combination of activities as so beneficial. “We are trying to teach them to take responsibility for the natural environment by working collaboratively with local groups for the benefit of their community and the environment,” he said.

Another key feature of the day was aquatic invertebrate sampling led by fisheries biologists David Derosa, Bronwyn Lewis and Michael Zimmer. Students from Ms. Stienstra’s class at Robson Community School reported observing a variety of fish and fish eggs as well as insects and leeches. They also expressed that exploring the creek and the living things that were in the water will make them more conscious of what they might put in the water in the future.

“We had a lot of fun working with the people there and learning how to fly fish and learning about the aquatic invertebrates,” said one of the students.

The students also felt a sense of accomplishment and community pride over the work they accomplished on the trails. They not only learned trail building skills, but had some great stories to tell about how much material is too much to carry in a wheel barrel and what happens when you fill one too full.