(Submitted photo)

Kootenay Columbia students become trail-smart

Warfield pupils learned about nearby trail systems alongside Wildsight EcoStewards

This month, Mrs. Barrie’s Grade 5 class created a field guide on a local Warfield trail system through a Wildsight EcoStewards project.

The field guide is helping students, teachers and the community to get outside and learn.

Behind Webster Elementary is an amazing trail system but it wasn’t being used by the school because teachers were either unaware of the trails or not confident in using them for their lessons.

“The class created the field guide to support teachers and students,” explained Wildsight educator Jessica Williams. “Teachers now have the knowledge on where to go, what to do and how to best engage students with place-based learning opportunities.”

The guide focuses on a 3 km loop behind the school, part of the Burt Boily Bear trail system, home to beautiful pine and aspen forests, a grassland meadow and a wetland. The 50-page field guide includes maps, the trail’s history, suggested outdoor activities and explains the local trees, plants and animals.

“I loved getting outside and exploring the trail,” shared Grade 5 student Caleb. “All the wildlife around us was amazing and got me to notice my ecosystem.”

The Burt Boily Bear trail was created over a decade ago by Warfield local Burt Boily. He was diagnosed with cancer and wanted to establish a trail system as motivation to get active and to spend time healing in nature. Boily, now age 75, joined the students to share a wealth of information on the flora and fauna of the area. Along with his great sense of humour, he helped foster a connection between the community, the students and the environment.

“It was awesome to watch the students get excited about going out to ‘their’ trail again and again,” explained Williams. “Every time the students walked it, they felt more empowered to learn about it. It was also fantastic to watch the ecosystem change over the weeks of the project, as it really inspired the students to visit it more often, while in school and also after with their family and friends.“

Wildsight EcoStewards projects are made possible thanks to the Columbia Basin Trust, the Government of British Columbia, and FortisBC.

“Sometimes all it takes is a little map and some fun activities to spark the connection with a natural space for a class,” shared Williams. “I hope the guide does this and more.”

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