Lucerne School science teacher Signy Fredrickson is all about getting her students outside. So it was no surprise to find her in early June digging holes and planting trees with her grades 7, 8 and 9 students on the banks of Silverton Creek.
For the third consecutive year, the Grade 7/8 class from Lucerne has adopted Carpenter Creek as a living laboratory, collecting data and assessing overall creek health. This project is a Know Your Watershed student action project, a program of the Columbia Basin Trust, administered and managed by Wildsight.
Led by local Know Your Watershed educator, Marcy Mahr and Signy Frederickson, the 13 Grade 7/8 students went out to the creeks in small teams from October through May. In June, the Grade 9’s were invited to join and Mahr put together a restoration demonstration project for that would turn the community into a classroom and also help the students make a difference.
“I enjoy bridging what the students are learning in the classroom with the amazing natural world outside the school doors,” said Fredickson. “Since last fall, my class has been learning about watersheds with the Know Your Watershed program. They have been testing water quality and catching and identifying aquatic insects in both Carpenter and Silverton Creeks. And, this spring they wanted to do a conservation project that could improve stream habitat for fish and insects.”
Mahr recruited local ecologists Tyson Ehlers and Gregoire Lamoureux to help make the project a success. “When the students learned that Silverton Creek was one of the most important watersheds in the Slocan Valley for bull trout, they wanted to do something positive for them,” explained Mahr. “It is important for students to go before Village Council, learn about planning and regulations, and make a case for their project. And it’s so worthwhile to have them interact with mentors to see that restoration ecology and stewardship can be interesting career pathways.”
By lunchtime, the students had planted a mix of small conifer trees along a section of the riparian area by the Silverton Bridge. Along with a few blisters, they took back to school some new ideas and added confidence.
“I liked being outside and I learned how to plant trees. My favourite thing was digging the holes. I liked using tools. It’s cool it happened in my town,” said student Aleks Ratynski.
“I was very impressed with the students’ presentation to Council the overall level of engagement our youth continually demonstrate,” commented Silverton Mayor Jason Clark.
Know Your Watershed is a regionally based watershed education program of the Columbia Basin Trust, administered and managed by Wildsight. The program is designed specifically for high school students and supports teachers in bringing science curriculum to life. Through this hands-on program, students increase their knowledge and awareness of their local watersheds and water in their communities.