Together, students planted 150 trees and shrubs. (Photo by Morgan Mitchinson)

Together, students planted 150 trees and shrubs. (Photo by Morgan Mitchinson)

Creston students help restore wetlands

A class from Canyon-Lister Elementary is learning all about the forest ecosystem

Submitted by Wildsight

Local students got their hands dirty and their heads full of knowledge thanks to an environmental education program recently.

Students in Brian Ewashen’s Grade 3 to 5 class at Canyon-Lister Elementary explored the forest ecosystem in the Creston Valley and took part in a collaborative restoration project.

Through Wildsight’s EcoStewards program, the students took part in several field visits. First, the class visited Sullivan Creek in the Creston Community Forest, where they studied the characteristics of area trees and made connections to habitat, like wet, warm, dry, and cold sites. They also learned about the trees and plants that are in their own school forest.

In the next session, the class visited Summit Creek Park in the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area.

Wildsight educator Melissa Flint teaches students about the natural world. (Photo by Morgan Mitchinson)

Wildsight educator Melissa Flint teaches students about the natural world. (Photo by Morgan Mitchinson)

“They learned about the interconnection of ecosystems,” explains Wildsight educator Melissa Flint.

“We also had the themes of relationship and reciprocity and what that means to be in relationship with the natural world: how we get all we need from nature, and how we can return this care and connection.”

Students learned through games and activities, including a fungi search, a web activity, a plant walk, and a popular game tied to the themes of food, water, and shelter for wildlife.

“I learned that we are connected in the web of life. And if one animal dies, it affects the rest of the plants and animals in the web,” said Ash, one of the students.

After the field trip, Daisy, another student, remarked, “I had fun learning about all the different kinds of plants today!”

Together, students planted 150 trees and shrubs. (Photo by Morgan Mitchinson)

Together, students planted 150 trees and shrubs. (Photo by Morgan Mitchinson)

Planting day

EcoStewards is a program designed to encourage classes to take on a stewardship project of their choosing. Ewashen’s class chose to support a restoration project underway in the Crawford Hill area, where there used to be reservoirs for water storage for the Town of Creston and part of Erickson. Since water storage facilities have been upgraded, the reservoirs are now being restored to wetlands. These wetlands are expertly designed and have lots of woody debris and microhabitats for amphibians, reptiles, butterflies and birds.

On May 13, the class arrived by bus ready to work on the Dwight and Rosamund Moore Park. Through a morning of hard work and lots of fun, students planted a remarkable 100 fir trees and 50 varied shrubs to help enhance the habitat.

The planting area was rocky so it took quite a bit of perseverance from the students to plant all those shrubs, shares Flint. The students worked in teams to make this happen. Some, naming their plants, some finding special spots for the plants, some trying to plant as many as possible.

“We planted eight! Did we do the most?” asked student Adella as the day wrapped up.

A student chooses a shrub to plant at Dwight and Rosamund Moore Park. (Photo by Morgan Mitchinson)

A student chooses a shrub to plant at Dwight and Rosamund Moore Park. (Photo by Morgan Mitchinson)

Ewashen says through this program, his students liked learning about plants, participating in educational games, being active, and planting flora, adding that this learning tied his students into the larger community in which they live.

“It is important for students to learn about the native plants that exist in our community,” said Ewashen.

“A great learning tool is studying the local flora. The students were active community members by planting new life on a new hiking trail in Creston. The students took ownership by belonging to the larger municipality.”

Students had a lot of support in this project, including the Creston Community Forest which provided the fir trees for planting.

The Town of Creston provided most of the shrubs and enabled this Ecostewards project to happen, even volunteering two town workers to join the morning of planting. Special thanks to Ferd Schmidt, Brad Ziefflie, and Mike Moore from Town of Creston for helping, and especially to the amazing students in Mr. Eshawen’s class who worked so hard to help restore this special local area.

Wildsight thanks the Columbia Basin Trust, the Community Foundation of the Kootenay Rockies, Consecon Foundation, Copernicus Education Products, Fortis BC, the Government of Canada, the Kimberley & District Community Foundation, Kootenay Co-op, the Province of British Columbia, TD Friends of the Environment; Wildlife Habitat Canada, and all of our individual donors for making this program possible.

READ MORE: Nature Conservancy of Canada leads restoration project on Creston Valley farmland

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