[caption id=”attachment_387” align=”aligncenter” width=”348”] From white oak to maple, trees of all kinds have been planted by Huron Christian School students as part of a collaborative project to develop a nearby wetland.[/caption]
For years, Huron Christian School community members eyed a vast wetland near the school, wishing there was something they could do about it. While the separate school board owned the property, it was a two-minute walk from the Christian school and clearly chockfull of learning and activity possibilities. Then an opportunity arose.
Huron Christian School was invited to partner with four Clinton public and separate schools, all within a stone’s throw of each other, on a project to develop the wetland. Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority and Maitland Valley Conservation Authority would be spearheading the project.
Since 2011, students from the five schools have helped plant close to 1,000 trees of all kinds — soft maple, red oak, white spruce and dogwood, amongst others – adding to the more than 2,000 planted by conservation staff.
The trees are intended to create a buffer zone around the wetland; they also line what will be a public path that school members are also excited to use for cross-country running and Nordic skiing activities.
Teachers from the five schools have been meeting with conservation staff, providing their input as the project is developed.
Most recently, they have been co-ordinating the sharing and use of a set of wetland educational resources the conservation has made available to them.
As early as next year students from all the schools could be seen in the wetland, armed with GPS devices, magnifying glasses and soil samplers, doing their learning in the great outdoors.
John Huls, a Huron Christian School Grade 3 teacher, is one of two representatives from the school working on the project.
He’s excited about the new resources available.
“With our own budgets, we couldn’t have all this, so it’s expanding our resources, which is incredible,” Huls says, noting he foresees spending the summer digging into what’s been provided and figuring out how to integrate it into his class’s learning.
It’s also thrilling to be part of a project that will affect generations to come, Huls notes.
“This has been a really beautiful example of school boards working together with outside resources and looking at how we can take this area that has been sitting there for years and years and make it an educational centre and multipurpose (space),” says Huron Christian School principal Nick Geleynse.
Geleynse adds the project fits perfectly with the school’s intent to both create more hands-on learning experiences and have more learning take place in the community and outdoors.
He and the Huron school community are seeing this project as a gift in many ways, Geleynse says.
“God has just poured His blessing into it, as far as providing people to help develop (the area).”
Wetlands are one of the Earth’s most threatened ecosystems, according to a report from the Ausable Bayfield and Maitland Valley authorities. Despite their value, up to 70 per cent of wetlands have been lost or degraded in Canada as a result of urbanization, agriculture and industrial expansion.
The trees for the wetland and related educational resources were purchased through grants from various funders.
To learn more about the project, click here.