The Lesser Slave Watershed Council is one of 11 Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils in Alberta. WPACs are Water for Life partners and engage in activities that support Alberta’s Water for Life Strategy.
Providing water and environmental education is one of the LSWC’s strategic goals. Since hiring a dedicated education and outreach staff member in 2013, the LSWC has been wading into classrooms all around the Lesser Slave region.
The watershed council is active in 10 different schools from Slave Lake to High Prairie. The programs designed and presented by the LSWC are curriculum based and hands-on; covering a variety of topics from stewardship and erosion to waste water treatment to the importance of snow.
The LSWC also hosts province-wide programs such as Caring for Our Watersheds which challenges students in Grades 7-12 to identify one problem within their watershed and then come up with one achievable solution. Interested students then have the chance to take their solution from idea to reality with funding.
Little Green Thumbs is a nationwide program that the LSWC has brought to the Lesser Slave area. The Little Green Thumbs program teaches students about agriculture, stewardship and healthy eating through indoor gardening.
Currently, the program is running in 11 different classrooms, with Hillview School in East Prairie being the newest addition to the program.
Each classroom participating in the program is set up with an indoor garden complete with grow boxes, a variety of seeds and a powerful multi-spectrum UV light capable of growing delicious tomatoes even in the dead of winter. The gardens provide a multitude of curriculum connections and hands-on learning opportunities for students.
This fall, teachers from High Prairie, Grouard, Joussard, Peavine, Slave Lake and East Prairie met at Christie’s Greenhouse for a networking and training night to share their experiences with the program and start planning activities for the current school year. From celebrating with classroom grown salad to growing herbs to greenhouse tours, it sounds like the students are in for a lot of excitement.
The LSWC works in partnership with the Lesser Slave Forest Education Society to host field trips that connect students with their environment and help show them where their water comes from. One of these field trips focuses on water quality and identifying different factors that can affect the health and quality of the water.
“It’s fantastic, because you can really see the lightbulbs start to go off as students make connections,” says LSWC coordinator and program lead Kaylyn Jackson, who has been working with the LSWC since late 2015.
Between field trips and in class presentations, the LSWC delivered programming to 45 classes in the 2016-17 school years and hopes to increase that number this year.
The LSWC is already planning for the New Year and is getting ready to release a 2018 calendar. The photos for the calendar were selected through a photo contest which ran in October and received over 100 entries. After a public vote on the LSWC Facebook page, Jenny Ehman’s photo of a stream in South Gilwood was selected as the top photo and will be the front cover of the calendar.
Calendars will be available for sale for $10 each starting the first week of December.
To learn more about the Lesser Slave Watershed Council and their programs visit www.lswc.ca or call  523-9800.