Written by: Kim Urbaniak
As the group exits the forest and steps into the clearing by the lake, their eyes fill with wonder, “So THIS is the lake!” someone exclaims. “Look at all the birds!” another student hollers, before running off to take a closer look. Today’s field trip is off to a good start. The sun is out, the mosquitoes are minimal, and we are greeted at the lake by a flight of swallows, swooping back and forth over the water. It’s quite a sight to be seen!
Experiences were abundant at McGinty Lake this spring, as over 130 Kimberley and Cranbrook elementary students came out to explore our local hidden gem, taking part in the (free!) McGinty Lake Education Program, a joint initiative between the Meadowbrook Community Association and Wildsight Kimberley/Cranbrook. In the program’s second season, local environmental educator Kim Urbaniak guided 7 classes through a fun-filled walk and wetland exploration, with lessons and activities linked to each grade’s curriculum.
What a gem of a place McGinty Lake is to bring students. A 15-minute walk between the bus and the lake gives students a chance to tune in and focus on what they’re seeing, hearing and smelling. Walking through a forest ecosystem before approaching the wetland, encourages enlightening comparisons. And once at the main destination, a clearing by the water becomes the perfect outdoor classroom, where students learned about the importance of wetlands, discussed animal adaptations, practiced their camouflage skills, become biodiversity detectives, and even made a human-sized web of life showing how all species are connected to each other. But undoubtedly, the best part of the day was exploring aquatic insects while dip netting. As one grade 6 teacher put it, “The hands on action that saw the kids really engaged…Just keep doing what you’re doing. It keeps the kids outdoors and happily engaged.”
And that is just what we plan to do. There is more fun to be had as the McGinty Lake Education Program continues into the fall! To book a program for September or October 2018, email Kim Urbaniak, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The McGinty Lake Education Program is a partnership between the Meadowbrook Community Association and Wildsight Kimberley/Cranbrook. Funding is graciously provided by the Columbia Basin Trust and the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program.
Photos: Dean Chatterson