BC Wildlife Federation joined the Squamish River Watershed Society for Estuary Alive! The activities took place at The Chelem (Seagrass) Trail in Skwelwil’em Squamish Estuary. Rhonda O’Grady led the estuary education event for grades 2 – 6 to learn about some of the amazing aspects of the estuary. Around 600 students participated and had fun learning about invertebrates, salmon, experiencing nature, and “nature’s market”.
The station run by BCWF was “It’s All About the Mud”: an activity designed to teach students about invertebrates (animals that do not have a spine, like insects and clams) found in the estuary and their importance to the biodiversity in the area. Students were allowed to dig in the mud and perform invertebrate surveys to see what animals they could find. Amphipods, isopods, worms, clams, shrimp and other invertebrates were found by students throughout the six days. This activity finished with students being able to look through microscopes at some of their catches as well as use magnified glasses to inspect other invertebrates found by leaders.
Another station was called “Nature’s Market.” It was led by plant identification experts to show students some of the edible, medicinal, and invasive plants in the estuary. Students left excited to show their families all the amazing plants in the estuary. This station was a great primer for using senses in nature during the next station.
The next station gave students a deeper understanding of their senses beyond sight. In the “Blind Walk” leaders helped guide blindfolded students through experiencing nature without sight. They had the opportunity to smell, feel and hear many aspects of nature that are missed when we only experience the world with our eyes. Students learned that it is important to experience nature holistically, as so much more can be learned.
The final station for the students was “Return of the Salmon Games”. This game led by many volunteers gave students an up-close and personal experience with all the dangers salmon face while migrating and following their life cycles. Students had fun playing as salmon or predators, while learning key aspects of the salmon life cycle, predator-prey relations, and important relationship with the estuary.
Overall, Estuary Alive! was an astounding success (in no small part to the help from amazing volunteers). Students had fun learning about the estuary in four very unique and educational stations. Squamish River Watershed Society hosted an incredible program to help truly bring the estuary to life.