Redfish Students become ‘EcoStewards’

Redfish Students become ‘EcoStewards’ in local planting project at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park

Students from Maggie Hodgson’s Grade 4/5/6 class at Redfish Elementary  recently spent a day getting their hands dirty in support of their local provincial park. The students planted close to one hundred trees and shrubs in Kokanee Creek Provincial Park campground, in an effort to re-wild an area that had recently been cleared for additional campsites.

“Wildsight’s  Ecostewards program is all about project-based learning.  Students get out of the classroom and take action to care for our wild spaces. This project was a great way to make a difference, in just one day, to a local place that means so much to many people.”

Students worked diligently  and stayed on task, having discussed the values of West Kootenay ecosystems and the biodiversity found here in previous classroom sessions.  Reclamation efforts included planting red osier dogwood, wild rose, beaked hazelnut, douglas maple, and other species that are native to the area.  “The native shrubs and trees will not only enhance the area and provide privacy between campsites,” explained Anne Pigeon of RAP Park Contracting, “they will also help deter in growth of invasive species.” Students  even added woody debris back into the planted areas, to provide habitat features for animals.

The re-planting project was done In collaboration with a wide variety of dedicated volunteers. A celebratory barbeque topped off the event.

 “It was so special, seeing so many adult volunteers come out to support the project”, said Monica Nissen, Wildsight educator. “These folks are so dedicated to the place—they are real friends and neighbours of the park. Their presence and interactions with the students certainly showed what it means to care about a local wild place. I saw some lovely mentorship moments there.”

According to some of the students, the day planting native species at Kokanee was:

  • “really fun because it satisfies me when I help the planet by re-vegetating the area which makes a better environment for the plants and animals and us” – Marley Sharun (Grade 6)
  • “Amazing, because I love planting, it just make me feel super good on the inside because I know that I am helping the planet for generations after” – Ruby Gerow (Grade 6)
  • “I liked it because I like gardening and planting new plants. Being an eco-steward means to help the earth by caring for it and not littering” – Lily Perez-Lock (Grade 4)

Teacher Maggie Hodgson added, “The students were really motivated by and engaged in the physical work. They left feeling empowered as capable contributors to bettering their community and with a deeper connection to the park and our local ecosystem.”

Support for the project came from RAP Park Contracting, BC Parks, Georama Growers and Wildsight’s EcoStewards, which is made possible thanks to the Columbia Basin Trust and the Province of British Columbia.

Submitted by Monica Nissen
Regional Coordinator - BCSSA Kootenay Boundary Environmental Education (KBEE)