By Kirsten Dallimore
I’m the environmental educator for the K-8 programs here at Sierra Club BC. One of the best parts of my job is travelling around the province delivering our school programs in communities around B.C. Since September, I have visited over 75 classrooms.
Each class brings their own unique set of perspectives to the program I deliver which keeps my job as a teacher varied and exciting. This past week, I traveled to Bowen Island where most of the students spend a lot of time outdoors with their families. These students have fallen in love with nature in their home place and they do not want to see it disappear.
We spent some time outdoors where I had the students racing around their schoolyard and local forest finding various living species and habitats in order to complete a scavenger hunt on biodiversity. Having a fun interaction with local species offer students the opportunity to connect with nature. Those moments of connection can provide a sense of empowerment that “I can be a part of protecting nature.”
As we all looked up to find the tallest cedars, dug into the soil to find the earth worms and touched the roughest tree bark we could find, I watched the students deepen their understanding that they are each connected to all the living things they were experiencing.
The students’ concerns about the environment really focused on how the wildlife in the area is being impacted by climate change. Each student brought energy to the discussion about the personal impacts they make on the environment in their daily lives. They feel a strong urge to make changes in their life such as riding their bike to school, turning off lights at home, using less packaging and looking for alternatives in where they get their food.
In the end, when I asked the students what they loved most, the responses I received were, “We got to spend time surrounded by nature today,” and, “We learned how to feel compassionate and are excited to be a part of all the living things.”
This fall I visited schools in Victoria, Colwood, Vancouver, Mission, Vernon, Summerland, Squamish and Bowen Island. In 2016, I’m looking forward to teaching and connecting with even more students and nature in each of their unique schools and communities here on Vancouver Island and across the province. With each student I teach I am reminded that we are all part of making a difference.
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