Student learning goes beyond the 3 Rs in deep-dive program

Have you ever eaten honeycomb fresh from the hive, with the delightful gentle buzz of the relentless hard working bees above your head? How about taken a walk to understand water scarcity? Have you visited your local landfill to see the amount of waste that is diverted, and dumped, each day? When you wear through an old t-shirt, do you toss it in the trash or upcycle it into something fabulous?

These are just a few of the many field trips, learning experiences and opportunities students in Wildsight’s Beyond Recycling took part in this school year. More than 450 students across the Columbia Basin joined our in-depth environmental education program that takes students beyond the 3 R’s on a 24-week journey to explore and understand ecological footprints, waste, energy, climate change and food.

For Grade 5/6 students from Revelstoke’s Arrow Heights Elementary and Begbie View Elementary, the buzzing of the bees as they sampled honeycomb fresh from the hive was just one of the moments they treasured on a recent Beyond Recycling field trip to a local farm, Track Street Growers, to see how a farm business operates.

At the end of the experience, students were asked for a word that expressed what they learned or felt about their time on the farm: ‘grateful’, ‘natural’, ‘delicious’, ‘local’, ‘loving’, and ‘free range’ were some of the few shared around the circle. This place conjured not only love for the flora and fauna flourishing there, but for the feeling invoked when you see local people caring for the environment and ensuring the sustainable production of food for future generations.

Whether students were listening to the secrets of a perfect compost pile, or hearing about the possibilities of beekeeping and the majesty of the process, they were delighted. Yet the connections between students, teachers and the environment was the most tangible takeaway.

“Farms like this are so important for sharing about food security,” says Wildsight Revelstoke educator Jade Harvey. “They are a haven for sustainable agriculture practices to continue, to do great work to combat emissions from transporting and importing food that influences our changing climate and for students to see where delicious things come from. Students saw this beautiful setting, where good food is grown, surrounded by clucking hens and bountiful native pollinator-loving plants and lots of lovely hiding spaces for hibernating insects.”

Kinnaird students visit the local landfill.

Beyond Recycling across the basin

From Valemount in the north to Salmo in the south, from Castlegar out west to Golden out east, 20 classes from 12 different communities took part in a Beyond Recycling program in the 2021/22 school year. Students share that they were inspired to make changes in their own lives as a result of the learning.

“I learned I should stop being like the old me and start being the new me where I recycle and more stuff,” shared Kevin from Creston’s Adam Robertson Elementary School.

“After Beyond Recycling I am now much more open minded about everything that will go into landfill because we learn that so many things that we use just get thrown out,” said Ethan from Fernie’s Isabella Dicken Elementary School.

“Beyond recycling changed my life because I learned a lot of things,” – Daniel, Creston’s Adam Robertson Elementary School

A team of professional Wildsight environmental educators make the curriculum come alive for students. They do it with passion and belief in the change this program brings.

“Beyond Recycling is an in depth look at how the lives of grade 5 and 6 students impact the planet. The hands-on, interactive lessons, activities, and field trips look at both the negative and positive impacts we can have,” shares Kim Urbaniak, Kimberley-based Wildsight educator. “The length of the program really allows us to build connections and a deep understanding of waste, energy, water, climate and sustainability.”

We’re grateful for the wrapup of another amazing year for this environmental education program!

Beyond Recycling is generously supported by the Columbia Basin Trust, the CSRD, NSERC, the Province of British Columbia, The RDCK, the RDFG, TD Friends of the Environment and individual donors.

Trash 2 Treasure at Isabella Dickson Elementary, Fernie
Students explore a local farm in Salmo on the last day of their Beyond Recycling program.
In Beyond Recycling, grade 5 and 6 students embark on a rich 24-week investigation into the impact of their lifestyles—energy, waste and consumption…Learn more