It’s hard to believe that it was four years ago that we were part of the team involved in developing the first Creatures of Habitat environmental education event. That event, in 2009, was a huge production in terms of planning and logistics. It involved gathering almost 600 Gr. 6 students – from three different schools – together at the Mary Winspear Centre for a half day of theatre presentations and workshops, then shuttling them by bus to 12 different green spaces on the Peninsula, to take part in ecological restoration activities. This inaugural event, which coincided with Earth Day, was a hit with the students, teachers and our volunteers and we knew that we wanted to make it an annual event, with a few changes.
The following year we decided that we wanted to approach the event in a different way. Rather than bringing the students together at a central location, we decided to bring the event to each school. This would allow us to reduce the footprint of the event, keep our costs down, and give us an opportunity to work with the students on their home turf…in their local environment. So, in 2010 and every year after, we’ve brought Creatures of Habitat to the schools, and students and volunteers take part in hands-on restoration activities on their school property or at a nearby park. Students get to take part in activities that they don’t normally do, like invasive species removal, mulching, and planting, and in some cases they learn something new and surprising…in the case of Royal Oak middle school, until we worked with the students to cut back the dense invasive Himalayan blackberry bushes at the edge of the school property, most students didn’t know that behind the bushes flowed a tributary of Colquitz Creek.
We feel that “keeping it local” helps to introduce or heighten a sense of stewardship in the students for their local environment, a sense that will hopefully live on long after they’ve taken part in our event and left school.
Planning is currently underway for Creatures of Habitat 2012…stay tuned for more information…there will be many opportunities to volunteer!