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Bellerose mentors wetland students

Extension of Ducks Unlimited program
BIG CATCH — SAM student Lizzie Fletcher examine water bugs caught during a pond-dipping exercise on the John E. Poole wetland boardwalk May 26. Bellerose students coached the youths through the exercise as part of the Ducks Unlimited Wetland Centre of Excellence program. KEVIN MA/St. Albert Gazette

St. Albert students studied the wonders of wetlands last Friday with the help of mentors from Bellerose Composite.

About 48 students from Sir Alexander Mackenzie Elementary were at Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park on Friday, May 26, to learn about waterfowl and water bugs from Bellerose students. The educational outing was part of the Ducks Unlimited Wetland Centre of Excellence program, which aims to have students explore, promote, and protect wetlands.

The program started last year when Grade 11 biology students planted trees, designed signs, and analyzed water samples from the John E. Poole wetland boardwalk, said Bellerose biology teacher Clayton Wowk. A fresh batch of Grade 11 students completed other conservation projects earlier this month, one of which was a QR-code based scavenger hunt at the boardwalk.

Last Friday, 14 of Wowk’s Grade 12 Biology students (many of whom were in his Grade 11 class last year) worked with Ducks Unlimited officials to run an educational workshop for the SAM students, leading them through waterfowl-themed games and a pond-dipping exercise.

The SAM students were enthusiastic about their water-bug examinations, lying on the boardwalk to scoop net-fulls of aquatic invertebrates into buckets. Within those buckets were revealed swarms of red water mites, zippy water beetles, and wriggling mosquito larvae.

“I see a fish! I see a big fish!” said a student.

“I got a lot of kelp,” said another.

“...” said a bemused Canada goose floating nearby.

Wowk said his students learned about teamwork, environmental stewardship, and scientific inquiry through this work with Ducks Unlimited. He hopes to continue the program next year with a fresh bunch of students.

Bellerose student Ella Cheesman said she had a lot of fun being outdoors as part of this project, and noted SAM students knew much more about wetlands than she did when she was their age.

Bellerose student Carter Love said it had been fun to test water samples from the wetland as part of the mentorship project.

“I think it’s important to teach kids about wetlands and how important they are,” he said, so they work to preserve them as they grow up.

Visit for more on the Wetland Centre of Excellence program.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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