BCWF wows at the Raft River Interpretative School Program

`A dinosaur!“A rhino!` `A dragon!` were some of the enthusiastic guesses from children for animals a mystery jaw bone could have belonged to. It was actually a moose jaw, but they seemed equally impressed.

The BC Wildlife Education’s Wetland Education Program provides many great outreach initiatives for school aged children.  Most recently staff were busy educating 678 students over three days while participating at the Raft River Interpretative School Program in Clearwater, BC (Sept 12-14, 2012). Students came from all corners of the North Thompson Valley, including: Heffley Creek, Raft River, Blue River Elementary, Barriere Elementary, Vavenby Elementary, and Clearwater Secondary schools in order to learn about the wilderness and how we connect to it.   Four educational stations were hosted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Simpcw First Nations and the BCWF.  Stations included: Invasive Fish and Plant Species with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Simpcw First Nation’s Culture, Artistic Fish Prints, and the BCWF’s station on wildlife of BC’s wetlands and forests.

Students ranged from Kindergarten to Grade 9 and the BCWF adapted lessons to accommodate different age groups. Younger participants focused primarily on wetland species (e.g. the beaver, muskrat, and moose), while older students were treated to a talk on BC meat eaters and learned about cougars, lynx, wolverines, otters, coyotes, and more.  Children learned how these species interact with wetlands and forests and how they are important to many cultures and societies. Hands on learning was highly encouraged with lots of skulls, bones, fur, and hides for the children to touch. As well as learning lots of interesting facts (e.g. Did you know cougars can jump almost 6m straight up in the air?), students also learned about skull features and the different kinds of teeth. In addition, all 678 students were educated on what a wetland is, why they are important, and how they tie into the BC Wildlife Federation as a whole. No matter what the age, everyone who attended got to learn and experience something new. After all, it’s not every day you get to hold a lynx’s fur and skull.

This hands-on educational opportunity could not have occurred without the generous donation of materials from the Fort Fraser and District Local Trapper’s Association.

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