Students learn about wetlands at Brucedale Conservation Area
by Tiffany Wilson

June 11, 2016



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Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation and Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (SCVA) form partnership

The sun was shining, the birds chirping, frogs jumping, snakes slithering and the grade 4/5 students from Elgin Market Public School and St. Anthony’s Separate School in Kincardine were exploring the wetlands on the coast of Lake Huron located along Brucedale Conservation Area Thursday, June 2, 2016 for the Wonders of the Wetlands event. 

Jo-Anne Harbinson of SCVA explained to students the different plant species found in the wetland through a transect study from the shoreline to the dune ecosystem.

The Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation (LHCCC) and Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (SCVA) have partnered together with main sponsor Enbridge to help “fight against” the invasive Phragmites (European Common Reed) found along the Lake Huron coastal shoreline at the conservation area. 

Invasive Phragmites (European Common Reed) damaging Ontario's biodiversity, wetlands and beaches

"It just chokes out the wetland," said Erin Lawrie, LHCCC Coastal Stewardship Coordinator. "It’s an awful invasive plant so we are working together to remove it, restore and bring back the native vegetation."

Arwen Hitchcock (11) points out plant in the Great Lakes Coastal Plant book ...

... and discovers it is the Silverweed 

Usman Bhatti, Site Supervisor for the Underwood Windfarm said Enbridge entered into a $100,000 five year agreement ($20,000 per year) with the LHCCC and SCVA to not only help rebuild the habitat, but also help educate children through interactive events such as the 'Wonders of the Wetlands' event organized by the LHCCC and SCVA.

Sophie Nancekivell (10) holds a 'wormweed' while Jo-Anne Harbinson searches through Plant book for description

“It works well, the kids appreciate it and they learn a lot,” he added. 
LHCCC grade 12 co-op student from Goderich District Collegiate Institute, Emily Shaw, said the main focus of the event was “to educate elementary school students on the importance of wetland ecosystems to a healthy environment in a fun and interactive setting.” 

Students at the Critter Catch Station netted wetland creatures, identified them and returned them to their habitat

Shaw’s station, Enviro-scape, focused on different types of pollution, where they come from and how it affects the lakes.  “It’s a fun hands-on activity for the kids,” she added.
The students visited five stations throughout the fun-filled day: Critter Catch, Vegetation Transects, Enviro-scape, Wildlife Monitoring and Plastics in the Great Lakes. 

Grade 5 students Brianna Clifford and Dana Daetwyler study the kinds of insects or wetland creatures they caught by simply skimming the top of the water with a net

A leopard frog was caught and released

 Aryana Nasimi (9) sifted through net with classmate Brianne Clifford (R) and SCVA Water Quality Specialist assistant Jeremy Harbinson (L) 

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Critter Catch station a big hit

St. Anthony School students learn how human pollution affects lakes

LHCC Gr. 12 co-op student Emily Shaw explains the importance of coastal wetlands and how pollution enters Lake Huron

Lucas Watson (1) finds a Garter Snake skin at the Wildlife Monitoring Station
A Red Bellied Snake was also spotted

Gr. 4 student Makenna Kirkconnell lists to the sounds of the wetlands while looking at her Birding by Ear sheet

Wildlife monitoring with SVCA's Nancy Griffin

LHCCC Coastal Outreach Specialist Rhiannon Moore (L) teaches students about turtles and how people impact wetland ecosystems, by actions such as littering

Clarie Marcotte (10) picks up littered plastic

A litter clean-up and data recording using a Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-up data sheet

"The students are the future and I think it’s important that they know how these ecosystems work and, hopefully, it will spark an interest in them to help in the future,” Shaw concluded.

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Saturday, June 11, 2016