On April 29th the BCWF’s Wetlands Education Program was part of a collaborative event called “Nature Knowledge Fest” at the new Surrey Bend Regional Park. We collaborated with 5 other organizations and took the lead in organizing this amazing event as part of the Surrey Environmental Extravaganza that runs every year to offer free, nature based educational events to the public and to Surrey’s schools. The other wonderful organizations that participated are: Burns Bog Conservation Society, City of Surrey, Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society, Green Timbers Heritage Society, and Metro Vancouver Regional Parks.
We had 2 schools join us over the day to learn about BC’s nature. Each school brought 2 classes; the first school with two grade 3/4 splits attended the morning session and the second school with two grade 3 classes attended the afternoon session. Each student participated in 5 different activities with the 5 organizations during their session. Kids were divided into groups and learned about many different aspects of BC’s nature while cycling through each station.
Station 1 – Birding with Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society. At this station the students were taught how to use binoculars to search for birds in the park and learned about a few of the local birds living in the area. Students also learned that dead trees that are still standing are called wildlife trees, and that wildlife trees are important habitat for animals including birds.
Station 2 – Plant identification with Green Timbers Heritage Society. Students were taught how to identify 6 local plants that live on or near riparian areas, mainly based on their leaves. They also learned what a riparian area (the bank of a river, creek or waterside) is at this station. Students ran through a photo identification activity and got to see many of these plants in the park as well.
Station 3 – Mammals within Metro Vancouver Regional Parks. At this station students learned what kind of animals live in the Surrey Bend Regional Park, and how to identify them based on their tracks. They also learned about the different gaits that mammals have, and had the opportunity to show off their skills at running like raccoons, coyotes, and river otters.
Station 4 – Food webs with Burns Bog Conservation Society. Students were educated about wetland food webs at this station. They learned about the roles that the sun, the water, the soil, and wetland specific animals and plants play in a wetland food web. Everything works together to contribute to a healthy and functional ecosystem and the more plants or animals that one species relies on for survival, the more resilient it will be. This station touched on invertebrates as they are a major inhabitant of wetlands.
Station 5 – Wetland invertebrates with the BC Wildlife Federation. Students got to expand upon their activity from station 4 at this station and learned all about the types of invertebrates (animals without backbones like snails, beetles, flies, worms, etc) that live in BC’s wetlands. Students got to dip for live invertebrates and identify them using an invertebrate key. Students learned that some wetland invertebrates, like Predaceous Diving Beetles, can grow over 7 inches in length and others, like Caddisfly larvae, build homes out of small sticks and rocks and carry their homes on their backs! Students also learned that in general, the more types of invertebrates found at a wetland indicates a healthier wetland.
Each student took home a questionnaire worksheet to fill out in class with their teachers to review what they learned at the event. There were one or two take home messages at each station for students to remember. We are so happy to have been able to provide this field trip for Surrey’s elementary students to attend. Connecting with nature is such an important part of childhood and one of our goals as a conservation organization. The students really enjoyed spending the day with us and one student even said that this was the best 2.5 hours of his life and that he would like to live in the park!
We are hoping to have another successful event next year to offer to Surrey schools and we are aiming to build the capacity to reach out to even more students during the event. If you have any questions or would like more information about what content was taught please contact BCWF staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A special thank you goes out to each participating organization, this event would not have come to life without all of your hard work and the time that you have contributed. The following partners made this event possible:
This event would not be possible without the financial contributions from:
Since 1985, Wildlife Habitat Canada, a national, non-profit, charitable conservation organization, has invested over $60 million to support hundreds of conservation projects on private and public lands across Canada, through its granting program. Wildlife Habitat Canada works through partnerships with communities, landowners, governments, non-government organizations, and industry to conserve, enhance, and restore wildlife habitat. To learn more about the projects that Wildlife Habitat Canada has funded or to see our annual report, please visit www.whc.org. Without habitat…there is no wildlife. It’s that simple!