Peninsula Streams seeks volunteers on Saanich Peninsula

Creatures of Habitat gives Bayside kids ability to contribute to the betterment of their local community.

Bayside Middle School students by Tod Inlet in Gowlland Tod Provincial Park working with Peninsula Streams Society.

Volunteers with Peninsula Streams Society will be visiting three schools over four days to engage Grades six and seven students in hands-on ecological restoration activities but more volunteers are needed.

The 15-year-old Society is known for taking care of streams, mostly doing stream restoration projects throughout the Peninsula. This could include replanting, invasive species removal and more. They also do community stewardship support, working with different groups to help restore their own local streams.

“That can be through providing tools and material through getting them the proper permissions (and) liaising with the municipality under any other jurisdictional concerns,” said Francesca Loro, stewardship co-ordinator for the Society.

Another thing the Society is involved in is environmental education. They have three different programs for Grade 3s, 5s and 6s, one of which is their upcoming program Creatures of Habitat, which is a Grade 6/7 program.

This year will mark the ninth year for Creatures of Habitat, which takes place every April around Earth Day. There is both an indoor and outdoor component to the program, however volunteers are only needed for the outdoor component.

The volunteers will visit three schools, which are the regular schools they attend every year.

“Some kids even who went through the program when they were in Grade 6 have returned to us to volunteer at the program, which is awesome,” said Loro.

The students are pulled out of their regular classes for a full day of outdoor and indoor activities.

“The indoor activities are workshops and interactive theatre which we call Enviro Jeopardy,” she said.

They also take part in workshops with the Society’s partners. This year’s partners include World Fisheries Trust, the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, the Compost Education Centre and CRD Parks. The other half of the day includes outdoor restoration activities.

“What they do is they actually undertake hands on environmental restoration activities,” said Loro.

She said that could include invasive species removal, plant removal, mulching the trees and plants that are already in their own property or garbage pickup.

The kids, she said, will be working alongside volunteers, who are experts in plant knowledge, and can pass on their skills and knowledge to the students.

“It kind of gives them a new perspective on their local environment, so they benefit in so many different ways,” she said.

The school on the Peninsula participating is Bayside Middle School in Central Saanich, which worked a lot on the school property for the first five or six years. The kids, Loro said, did a great job of reducing the amount of invasive species on the school property so much so that there isn’t as much for them to do anymore.

“We’ve essentially had to find a new location for them because they had done such a good job on the school property, so we take the Bayside students to Gowlland Tod,” she said.

Volunteers needed for the outdoor component are required to be enthusiastic and responsible to work with youth ages 11 to 12.

Depending on the school as other schools across Greater Victoria participate volunteer shifts are from 8:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. No restoration experience is necessary as Peninsula Streams will teach people everything they need to know at volunteer orientation and training sessions.

The training session for Bayside Middle School will take place April 6 from 5:20 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Wallace Drive entrance to Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. The day of the actual event for Bayside will take place April 21 from 8:45 a.m. to 1:50 p.m. at Gowlland Tod.

Those interested in volunteering are asked to call Loro at 250-363-6480 so she can keep track of volunteers.

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