Creston students restore wetlands

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

Students in Brian Ewashen’s Grade 3-5 class at Canyon-Lister Elementary explored the forest ecosystem in the Creston Valley and took part in a collaborative restoration project that saw them plant 150 trees and shrubs!

Photo: Morgan Mitchinson

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.

“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.

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

Wildsight Educator Melissa Flint talks about proper planting techniques to the students. Photo: Morgan Mitchinson
Photo: Morgan Mitchinson

Planting day

EcoStewards is a program designed to encourage classes to take on a stewardship project of their choosing. Brian Ewashen’s class chose to support a restoration project in the Crawford Hill area, where there used to be reservoirs for water storage. 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 Friday, May 13th, the class arrived by bus ready to work. Through a morning of hard work and lots of fun, students planted a remarkable 100 fir trees and 50 varied shrubs to help enhance this habitat!

The planting area was rocky so it took quite a bit of perseverance from the students to plant all those shrubs, shares Melissa. 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.

Brian 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. 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,” he says.

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!

Photo: Morgan Mitchinson

EcoStewards is made possible thanks to the generous support of 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.

Photo: Morgan Mitchinson