Students Go Beyond Recycling For The Future Of Our Planet

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This school year, 13 classes from around the Columbia Basin joined Wildsight educators on a 24 week Beyond Recycling investigation into the impact of their lifestyles—energy, waste and consumption—to discover how their everyday actions affect the health of the planet and how they can be agents of positive change.

“In Beyond Recycling, students spend 24 weeks looking critically at the ecological footprint of their homes, schools and communities,” said Dawn Deydey, Beyond Recycling Coordinator. “They discover how our lifestyles impact our world and how even our everyday choices play a part in global issues like climate change.”

Beyond Recycling covers all kinds of sustainability topics, but here’s a quick snapshot of just a handful of the amazing hands-on learning experiences that took place this year.

In Cranbrook, students from St. Mary’s Catholic School had the opportunity to get messy, make mistakes and learn how to make their own paper. “The students were very proud of their efforts and developed a new appreciation for the energy, time and resources required to make paper,” explained Wildsight Educator Patty Kolesnichenko.
In Creston, students at Adam Robertson Elementary explored resource management with a game that split students into six villages that each had to manage the fish populations in their lakes, feed their villages, buy supplies and sell fish to support the economy of their village. “This game really helped the class think about sustainability and resource management in terms of the legacy we leave behind for future generations,” said Wildsight Educator Melissa Flint.
In the Elk Valley, students from Rocky Mountain Elementary went on a quest to learn about where their local food comes from. There was a hunger-invoking visit to Mor Jerky, where students learned how sausages get made – complete with a sample of homemade meatballs that had everyone’s undivided attention. This edible lesson was followed by a trip to Karen Alexander’s farm on the edge of Elkford, where students collected eggs, met some piglets and learned about bees – a lesson that included a much-anticipated taste of honey.
In Nelson, students from Rosemont Elementary prepared informed arguments and a fierce debate about which energy source was best at generating electricity took place, while over at Ecole des Sentiers-Alpins—the first French school to participate in Beyond Recycling, with lessons delivered entirely in French—students presented results from their research on the life cycle of various products.
In Castlegar, students from Kinnaird Elementary and Twin Rivers tackled big topics like the preciousness of water resources, our changing climate and measuring our ecological footprints. “While we did discuss the many impacts being experienced both locally and around the globe, we were sure to end each class on a hopeful note,” said Wildsight Educator Jenny Wallace. “The students were eager to brainstorm ways in which we can all help and we came up with a great list of positive eco-actions that we can all do at home, proving that our individual everyday actions can have a BIG impact!”
In Revelstoke, students from Begbie View Elementary implemented a garbage reduction campaign in their classrooms, resulting in a decrease in waste and an increase in compost. “The students are asking a lot more, “can this be recycled?” instead of just throwing things out,” remarked Wildsight Educator Janette Vickers. A big factor in the student’s new outlook on waste can be connected to learning about the 4R Pyramid, which places a greater emphasis on reusing and reducing.
In Golden, students at Lady Grey Elementary recently learned about the many steps involved in making all our things, from the extraction of raw materials and production to distribution and eventually disposal. “The class got a chance to take recycling into their own hands,” said Wildsight Educator Alysia Daciw, “helping to extend the life of our resources, lessen our impact on the planet, and have fun in the process!”
And in the Columbia Valley, students at Windermere Elementary followed their energy from the dam all the way to the outlet. “After looking at the benefits of electricity and how our lives would be different without power,” said Wildsight Educator Kim Urbaniak, “the students discussed the environmental impacts of both renewable and non-renewable energy sources and how changing our behaviour and using technology can reduce our impacts.”

Wildsight’s Beyond Recycling program aims to equip students with the knowledge they need to make important decisions for our planet, and with Earth Day just around the corner—April 22nd, to be exact—teaching our future generations about how best to keep the Earth protected for today and tomorrow couldn’t be more timely.

Wildsight gratefully acknowledges the financial support of: the Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, Fortis BC, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, BC Gaming Commission, Regional District of Central Kootenay, TD Friends of the Environment, and WC Kitchen Foundation for Beyond Recycling.