The Mysterious Turtle Shell – Starry Night Outreach 2016!

On August 20th, the BCWF Wetlands team was invited out to Deas Island for an event called Starry Night. Metro Vancouver put on an event for families in the evening to promote environmental awareness, and they wanted us to put a booth up! In preparation for the event, Kasey Wong from the Wetlands team decided to make a larger-than-life turtle shell. It was easier said than done (as he found out the moment he started the project), but with the help of chicken wire, papier-mache, and lots of spray paint, the turtle shell finally came together.

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The big reveal, as Kasey reveals each object to a curious participant!

Our Mysterious Turtle Shell game aimed to help children learn some cool facts about plants and animals that make wetlands their home. Underneath the giant turtle shell, the team hid 6 different objects: A moose’s jaw, a part of a beaver’s pelt, a beaver skull, a bird’s nest, cat tail, and a bowl of wet moss (a crowd favourite).

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Much of night looked like this, our booth was crowded!

The kids loved the fun facts we had corresponding to the items as well! The facts included: there are 140 different species of birds living in BC wetlands, and that a moose can eat up to 20 kilograms of
plants during a winter. The children (and sometimes adults) would stick their unassuming hands under the shell, and felt for the objects. If they were able to guess a couple of the items, they would win a prize! The participants loved our game, and our booth was consistently swamped with eager kids!

On the other side of the booth, Taylor Stefanik manned a very realistic wetland diorama. The Wetlands team had contracted a very talented modeller to create a model of a healthy and unhealthy wetland. The diorama was split in half through an imaginary line down the middle. On one side there was the healthy wetland, with native plant and animal species. But on the other side was the unhealthy side, where the wetland displayed many red flags.

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Taylor explaining the layout of the diorama.

It was the participant’s job to figure out the 5 reasons why that side was unhealthy, the 5 reasons were: Pollution (in the form of an oil spill), there was litter all over the ground, someone had rode their bike through the wetland, there were multiple invasive plants and animals, and finally there was abnormal erosion. Between this model and a giant fabric poster displaying endangered wetland species, it was safe to say our visitors understood how important a healthy wetland is.

The BCWF Wetlands booth was bustling throughout the night, even has the sun slid under the horizon we still had plenty of visitors. There was certainly a visible divide between the booth though; the children were immediately attracted to the giant turtle shell, while the adults and environmentalists were drawn to our life-like model. We have to thank Metro Vancouver for inviting us out to this event, we had so much fun that the time just flew by!

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