Revelstoke students gain hands-on environmental experience through EcoStewards program

Focusing on experiential learning in their own backyards, Wildsight partnered with Begbie View Elementary and Arrow Heights Elementary this year.

Begbie View Elementary students in grades five and six partnered with the Illicillewaet Greenbelt Society for their EcoStewards program. Photo: Wildsight/Lorene Keitch

With in-class learning facing many challenges this past year, the Wildsight Education team helped students engage with the natural world. Across the Columbia Basin, Wildsight educators developed lesson plans, videos, art projects and more to connect kids to nature-based learning. This information was then shared through a newsletter, and the in-class portions became the EcoStewards program.

Across the Columbia Basin, nearly 400 students took part in unique EcoSteward projects this school year. From planting riparian areas to creating art from garbage collected from a local lake to building pollinator gardens, students connected to the land in meaningful ways, becoming stewards for the protection of the natural world.

“Kids learn best when it’s hands-on learning,” says Jaffray, B.C. teacher Courtney Markle. “When they’re engaged and they’re asking questions, we’re really getting to the heart of learning.”

Arrow Heights Elementary students worked with the Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society to pull invasive species from wetlands near the Columbia and Illecillewaet Rivers.
Photo: Wildsight/Lorene Keitch

EcoStewards helps students learn about local ecosystems and undertake projects in their own backyards. Through multiple classroom visits, Wildsight educators guide students in a hands-on learning experience tailored to their interests and curriculum needs.

For example, the grade 3 and 4 curriculum include learning about habitats and biomes. Students used what they learned to create pamphlets about macroinvertebrates, shedding light on the importance of these small creatures in a stream ecosystem.

EcoStewards educator Ayla Bennett often sees how this hands-on approach to education gets kids thinking and learning in new ways.

“It’s amazing,” Ayla reflects. “When they’re actually in the stream, and they get to look at all the bugs they found … it’s a very palatable, tangible learning experience.”