The Grade 3 and 4 classes at Kimberley Independent School have been working on a stewardship program for the past several weeks that focuses on invasive and native plant species within the community.
Teacher Jaimee Pischette explained that the program goes hand in hand with the Grade 3 and 4 curriculum, and was in partnership with Patty Kolesnichenko from Wildsight (who teaches outdoor education).
“The program is called Eco Stewards and it’s spearheaded by Patty from Wildsight,” explained Pischette. “Part of the initiative is to get the students to learn about our environment and take on a stewardship role.”
She adds that the students have been out in the community learning about invasive species, including a hike up the butte and the rails to trails near the school.
“Serena from the East Kootenay Invasive Species Council hosted a cut and pull around the school with us, where students learned the difference between native plant species; ones which are meant to be here, versus invasive plants that take over,” explained Pischette. “Shannon from Purcell Organics also taught the students about native plants and indigenous ways of both harvesting and using them.”
Students learned how to harvest dandelions and turn their heads into salve.
“It was really amazing,” she said. “They also dug up some balsam root, roasted it and tried eating it which they really loved.”
In terms of the stewardship role, the students are making posters to put out throughout the community to raise awareness of native and invasive plant species.
“They also made information cards to share with the rest of the kids at school. They can be used as a kit so other classes an go on nature walks and identify the different types of plants,” said Pischette.
She adds that this is the first time that Wildsight has offered this specific program, and they hope to bring it back next year.
“They [the students] have had four sessions and we’re still working on the stewardship process until the end of the school year,” said Pischette. “It aligns closely with the curriculum, especially the stewardship side, and it’s a really great way to end the school year with some hands on learning.”