Connecting people to place

Students from Peavine Bishop Routhier School explore water quality at the Winagami Lake Provincial Park boat launch in June 2023.

Kate Lovsin,
Watershed Coordinator,
Big Lakes County ALUS Coordinator,
Lesser Slave Watershed Council.

Wetland education is a critical component of Alberta’s curriculum. Having the opportunity to bring students from all walks of life out to such an important part of our natural world is a blessing. We all experience nature in our own ways, yet it does not matter where we come from, but that we live in the moment and take in the world around us.

Environmental education is a crucial part of the curriculum not only because it teaches students where things come from, about natural processes, and other living and non-living things, but because it is an opportunity for students to connect to the place they are living. It lends the opportunity for people to develop a sense of belonging and a sense of place for where they are at any given moment.

When we take students out of the classroom and into the natural world, something amazing happens. The excitement they experience from the moment they get off the school bus to their first activity and through the day is electric. Not only is it a change in routine for them, but they are being given some freedom to explore and learn about the world around them in a meaningful way.

On our trips, students cycle through stations throughout the day, giving them the chance to try different, new, and exciting things. From exploring plants and insects to experiencing things like animal pelts, there is something for everyone.

Playing games and going on nature hikes are also a part of the adventure, depending on the age group. Seeing kids, in some cases for the first time, explore the world around them is truly remarkable.

Often times, we hear about these wetland trips or exposure to the environment in elementary school acting as the catalyst to careers in environmental education, environmental research and lifelong conservation and stewardship efforts. When you catch the love of the environment bug, it is hard to shake. This is the story for many of our Watershed Planning and Advisory Council colleagues, both past and present. Without opportunities like these, how would kids know that there are careers in environmental education, conservation, and environmental restoration? These trips serve an important role in more ways than we can count.

We are grateful for every experience we have to educate folks of all ages and backgrounds about the natural world around them, and how to help protect it for generations to come. We thank the Lesser Slave Watershed for welcoming us over the last 16 years throughout our communities. We hope to continue to inspire the next generation of environmentalists and work to protect the natural beauty of our watershed for the years to come.

To book a field trip or presentation, please contact Kate at 780-523-9800 or by email at coordinator@lswc.ca!

Students explore the difference between a bog and a fen, close to Lesser Slave Provincial Park with M.J. Kristoff, June 2022.
Kinuso School students explore “marsh monsters” at Devonshire Beach near Slave Lake in the spring 2023.

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