Five-day event reaches more than 700 youth

Students from two Alberta school divisions learn the joy of critter dipping and the importance of wetlands

July 21, 2016
Five-day event reaches more than 700 youth
According to the teachers who bring their classes, the hands-on learning of Wetland Discovery Days helps students extend their learning. ©DUC

“I loved catching bugs.”

“I’m going to bring my family here this weekend.”

“It is beautiful out here.”

These were just a few of the comments overheard amid the sound of quacking ducks and croaking frogs at Wetland Discovery Days, held from June 13 to 17.

A five-day long program, Wetland Discovery Days offer educators and students an opportunity to connect their inside-learning with the outdoor world of wetlands, through hands-on activities like critter dipping.

Following the success of the inaugural Wetland Discovery Days at Bow Habitat Station last fall, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) was pleased to deliver part two of the program, now in its third year, at the John E. Poole Wetland.

A unique interpretive site, the John E Poole Wetland is located north-west of Edmonton, Alta in the Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park. With support from the RBC Foundation and the Alberta Conservation Association, DUC staff welcomed 714 students from the St. Albert and Edmonton school districts to the wetland.

The program received an overwhelmingly positive response from educators who participated in a voluntary survey, following their visit.

Students critter dipping at Wetland Discovery Days
Students explore the marsh with critter dipping nets at Wetland Discovery Days.

“Hands-on learning experiences are very important to the students I teach. The pond-dipping was a perfect way for my students to extend their learning – and they reached a level of understanding that classroom learning could not accomplish,” shared one teacher.

Ninety-one per cent of educators who completed the survey said they would recommend the program to other teachers.

“Natural wonders, when given the chance, still impress, excite and inspire children,” says Craig Bishop, DUC’s manager of environmental services and education in Alberta.

“Education programing is sparking interest by introducing youth to the world waiting outside their door,” he adds.

During the summer months, Bishop encourages caregivers to continue educating youth about the value (and fun) of wetlands. “This summer, get outside and just maybe take a dip net.”

Special thanks to all of the sponsors of the Wetland Discovery Days program.