Victoria schoolkids getting their hands dirty

Garry oak meadow project teaches children stewardship

Habitat Acquisition Trust land care co-ordinator Todd Carnahan directs Quadra elementary students

Habitat Acquisition Trust land care co-ordinator Todd Carnahan directs Quadra elementary students

Students in Winona Waldron’s Grade 1-2 class, all clad in rubber boots, troop single file across a blocked-off portion of Fifth Street behind Quadra elementary.

They gather in a semicircle underneath a nearby grove of Garry oak trees and listen intently to Todd Carnahan describe how the camas bulbs he told them about in class should be planted, then covered up with mulch.

Carnahan, the land care co-ordinator for the Habitat Acquisition Trust, oversees the six and seven year olds as they happily do their bit to restore this little corner of Garry oak meadow. A collection of native flowering shrubs is coming the next day to finish off the project.

“What’s the most important thing to remember not to do with these bulbs?” he asks them before they head off. Step on them, someone offers up correctly.

“So, before you leave on spring vacation, come and look for the blooms coming up,” Carnahan adds, then proceeds to give the kids high fives.

Spearheaded by the parent advisory council, the school-wide project to plant 313 bulbs – one for each student at Quadra – along with shrubs is part of a project the Trust calls the Green Spots Program. It began last fall with students spreading mulch and cardboard down, in preparation for the planting.

The goal is to get children outside to learn about their environment, as well as take ownership in what they help create, Carnahan says.

“Nature deficit disorder is rampant these days,” he says, standing beside an oak he estimates at between 200 and 300 years old.

“If we lose kids after they’re seven or eight and don’t get them outside, they may not develop that spark of interest or a love for nature.”

Tracy Byrne, Quadra PAC president, grew up in Great Britain and remembers seeing green spaces she played in gradually disappear, replaced with developments.

She helped drive a decision by the PAC to not invest in plastic and metal play equipment, as many schools have done in recent years, but to put its money into natural spaces.

“Todd came on board and gave us some focus,” Byrne says. “For the kids, it was really important to (tell) them that they’re sacrificing a bit of a play space, but they’re also becoming stewards of that space.”

The Garry oak meadow restoration project was helped along with donations of cash for the bulbs from the Gudgeon family and shrubs from Habitat Acquisition Trust.

Quadra principal Marilyn Campbell says projects such as this are important because they give the students a stronger connection to the greater community.

She’s also a big fan of getting the kids outside.

“The classroom does not stop at the four walls,” she says. “In a community where they don’t get out as much, everything we can do to encourage and enhance that is good.”

editor@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police are asking for help locating Izabel Villeneuve, 14, who was last seen Jan. 19. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Victoria police seek help locating missing 14-year-old

Izabel Villeneuve was last seen in the morning of Jan. 19

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

The cost of potentially counting deer regionwide was among the issues that prompted Capital Regional District committee members to vote against pursuing a greater CRD role in deer management. (Black Press Media file photo)
Expanded deer management a non-starter for Greater Victoria

Capital Regional District committee maintains current level of support

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Vancouver Island this weekend

Snow on Malahat to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Victoria says sale of the planned subdivision will increase the club’s ability to provide services and support. (Courtesy of Association for the Protection of Rural Metchosin)
Victoria Boys and Girls Club says youth would benefit from Metchosin land sale

Club says sale will guarantee supports and programs at time when demand high

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Aquaculture employee from Vancouver Island, Michelle, poses with a comment that she received on social media. Facebook group Women in Canadian Salmon Farming started an online campaign #enoughisenough to highlight the harassment they were facing online after debates about Discovery Islands fish farms intensified on social media. (Submitted photo)
Female aquaculture employees report online bullying, say divisive debate has turned sexist

Vancouver Island’s female aquaculture employees start #enoughisenough to address misogynistic comments aimed at them

Most Read