Sherwood Park, AB. — Uncas Elementary students found new ways to grow and learn at the grand opening of a new wetlands beside their school. To mark the opening, students planted aquatic species plugs to establish vegetation in the area with the help of Strathcona County, Associated Environmental Consultants, and K & S Growers. “We helped plant some sand willows,” says Evy Elko, a Grade 4 student at Uncas Elementary.
Strathcona County constructed the ecosystem to restore a series of fully functioning and attractive marsh wetlands near Uncas Elementary as part of its Wetland Replacement Program. The constructed wetlands are expected to reduce impacts related to extreme weather events, such as flooding and drought, improve water quality, support biodiversity, provide habitat for wildlife and species at risk, and create significant educational opportunities.
The wetlands have already begun providing students with hands-on learning. “It’s beneficial for both the environment and education,” says TJ Kennerd, the Principal at Uncas Elementary. “In planting vegetation, students were connecting what they’ve read in books and heard in the classroom to something they can see and feel and smell. Each wetland pond in the area will correspond to a different grade, so classes will get to learn directly from the land and explore many topics in their respective science curriculums.”
Strathcona County’s wetland replacement projects look to replace and mitigate historical wetland losses in collaboration with the community. “Strathcona County is excited to continue to build the relationship between Uncas Elementary and the Wetland Replacement Program,” says Emily Kabotoff, an environmental planning specialist with Strathcona County. “Despite the rain, we had several students come out, learn about the importance of wetlands and the various types of wetland plants like mint, sedges and rushes, and help to plant a few plugs themselves! We look forward to seeing how the restored wetlands continue to establish and hope the students will continue to stay engaged and excited about the ecosystem in their backyard.”
Beginning next year, students will study the biological diversity within the wetlands in depth and learn about the importance of conservation in maintaining a healthy, connected and well-managed ecological network.
Referencing EIPS First Nations, Métis and Inuit Consultant Leaha Atcheynum’s learnings, Elko builds upon the educational benefit of the wetlands. “We learned from Leaha that willows were used by people for making things they needed a long time ago, like snowshoes.”
Elk Island Public Schools is one of Alberta’s largest school divisions, serving approximately 17,460 students in 43 schools. We are proud to be an integral part of our communities, including Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan, Vegreville, Strathcona and Lamont counties, and the western portion of the County of Minburn.
For more information contact:
Laura McNabb, Director, Communication Services, EIPS 780-417-8204 cell 780-405-4902