Our Relationship with Water in the Okanagan

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Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program

Project Description:

This project builds upon on work completed in the fall of 2015 at Okanagan Landing Elementary School (Vernon), where a number of partners (including RDNO) came together to create a pollinator habitat garden at the school. Since its installation, the garden has become a well-used outdoor learning space. Other local elementary schools, and district officials, have expressed interest in creating more outdoor learning spaces, and developing outdoor-based curriculum units for a variety of subjects. Teachers have also expressed they are struggling to adapt with the new Provincial curriculum changes, and are looking for support resources to help meet these expectations.

The aim of this project is to enhance water stewardship in the Okanagan by building capacity for teachers to provide more outdoor environmental education. We aim to make outdoor education easier for teachers to deliver by providing them with a curriculum resource kit, and a guide to creating outdoor learning spaces on school grounds. The kit will also incorporate an “Okanagan perspective” for species at risk, ecosystems, and traditional knowledge.

The resources will support the new Provincial curriculum, which is focused on competency in critical and creative thinking through effective approaches such as interest-led, project-based, and hands-on learning, team-work, communication, and solving real-world problems. This unique educational resource kit will help local teachers meet the new curriculum guidelines, while exploring the relationships between water and humans, plants, ecosystems, the water cycle, water conservation, and “the myth of abundance” of water in Okanagan Lake. This project will allow teachers to support deeper learning of a variety of key curriculum concepts through interconnected activities around a central theme of water, and support students in learning that nature and water conservation are essential to our lives. We believe that more outdoor experiences and participatory learning will lay a foundation of environmental awareness and stewardship values that the students will carry with them to their families, and through their lives.

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