CBC Daybreak interview. Chris Walker, with Johnny Strilaeff, CBT president and Jennifer Doll, SD5 elementary school teacher
Chris Walker: The Columbia Basin trust is withdrawing funding for Environmental Education programs. This includes funding for environmental groups like Wildsight and the Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network. The Trust says it’s reallocating the money for larger environmental initiatives. A couple years ago the trust conducted a public engagement process and through that residents said they wanted larger
Johnny Strilaeff is CEO of the Columbia Basin Trust.
Johnny Strilaeff “As we were talking to residents during that process to help shape a plan, they were really really clear with the Trust that they wanted to see our efforts focused on really larger scale on the ground ecosystem enhancement projects when they talked about environmental priorities. So, think about things like larger scale wetland reservation or land preservation or conservation that would really be expected to generate benefits for generations. So they were really clear that for the next three years those three years coming to a conclusion at the end of 2023 that that’s where they wanted us to focus our environmental efforts so our programming ultimately reflects that direction and that means our board and the organization from time to time has to make difficult decisions.
Chris Walker: John Strilaeff speaks for the Columbia Basin Trust.
Jennifer Doll is an elementary school teacher in the Southeast Kootenay School District 5. She says educators are worried about the effect of withdrawing that funding for Environmental Education programs.
Jennifer Doll: If we take that money away those students are going to miss out on opportunities that they currently have and have had. And those opportunities shape their minds for thinking about where they live, the services that they are going to be using eventually. It’s not just nature-based and when you look at the outdoors; it’s multifaceted, right?
There’s lots of learning. My main concern is that when the funding goes away the access to the facilitators will go away because part of that funding, I’m assuming, goes to their wage then teachers are going to have to, off the side of their desk, which means not during school hours, write grants which takes a lot of time and knowledge — you
have to be very good at it — to find money to hire these facilitators that may have a higher fee that isn’t supplemented by CBT money.
Chris Walker: That’s Jennifer Doll, an elementary teacher with School District 5 in southeast Kootenay.
The Columbia Basin Trust is beginning the public consultation process again. It’s hosting a number of open houses. The next one is tonight in Meadow Creek. Residents also have the option of attending Zoom meetings or filling out an online survey.
“If we take that money away those students are going to miss out on opportunities that they currently have and have had. And those opportunities shape their minds for thinking about where they live, the services that they are going to be using eventually.” – Jennifer Doll