Influencers of the future, the thousands of Canadian youth who participate in DUC’s education programs are bringing new ideas, energy and perspectives to how we approach today’s conservation challenges, including how to safeguard our country’s biodiversity.
Empowering youth through wetland education
Engaging and empowering young people in meaningful nature-based experiences are the impetus behind the Wetland Centres of Excellence (WCE), DUC’s flagship education program.
WCEs are a national network of 28 schools and community partners where students lead wetland projects, peer-to-peer mentorship and community outreach. Students act as stewards of their local wetland, gaining experience in conservation techniques and learning what it means to be a responsible citizen. Here are some of the ways students are taking action to protect plants and animals in communities across Canada.
Action: Removing invasive species
Students from the Vernon WCE are hard at work improving biodiversity at their local wetland. They get out to the wetland multiple times throughout the year, helping to plant native species and remove invasives like Skeleton Weed.
St. Albert, Alberta
Action: Planting native species
Students from the Edmonton WCE plant native trees at their local wetland to improve habitat. Last year they planted over 75 trees! They also participate in water quality testing and garbage clean-ups at the John E. Poole wetland.
Action: Removing invasive species and planting a pollinator garden
At the Saskatoon WCE, it’s the middle school students that act as wetland stewards. They make class trips out to Hyde Park and remove invasive species, including wormwood, Canadian thistle, scentless chamomile and sow thistle. They also planted a pollinator garden at their school to improve habitat.
New Liskeard, Ontario
Action: Monitoring biodiversity – bird banding
The beautiful, award-winning Hilliardton Marsh WCE welcomes student volunteers from Kerns Public School to help identify, band and monitor birds passing through the area. Thousands of birds are banded every year, including waterfowl, songbirds and raptors.
Action: Monitoring biodiversity – invertebrate surveys
Students from the Papineau WCE head to Plaisance National Park for their wetland stewardship. They survey invertebrates at four different wetland sites and sample water quality. They then deliver presentations to the rest of the school on what they found.
Tantramar, New Brunswick
Action: Improving habitat – bird boxes
This is the oldest and largest Wetland Centre of Excellence in Canada. The “Wetheads” at Tantramar Regional High School do it all! They plant trees, remove invasives, build and maintain bird boxes, work on plant, bird, amphibian and minnow inventories, and much more! Pictured above are the blue bird boxes they built and installed last year.
Action: Planting trees and removing invasive species
Every year the Charlottetown WCE students strap on their chest waders, wade into the wetland and spend hours removing invasive nightshade. They also plant native tree species and participate in “Burdock Beatdown,” removing hundreds of pounds of invasive burdock.
Canada's youth in action
Wetland Centres of Excellence are hubs for biodiversity educationExplore DUC-partnered Wetland Centres of Excellence