Category Archives: Environmental Education

Bringing Outdoor Learning to Life at Tourond Creek Discovery Centre November 21st, 2017

Posted in: Environmental Education Watershed Moments

Educators across the Southeast are going outside with their students to make real world connections to classroom learning. Barret Miller, Special Programs Interpreter at Fort Whyte Alive, spends much of his time exploring the outdoors with students and educators across Manitoba. He is part of a movement of community organizations, including FortWhyte Alive, South Central Eco Institute, Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD), and Tourond Creek Discovery Centre (TCDC) that are partnering with Hanover School Division to promote opportunities for outdoor education. Teachers are keen to learn about using outdoor environments to make linkages with the school curriculum.

Barret specializes in helping educators make the most of outdoor learning opportunities. He tells a story about an experience he had while taking a group of students on a field trip to a nearby park. The group of students barely hiked 20 metres before becoming enthralled by a bluff of trees. Barret says the excited group spent over an hour exploring the bluff and discovering its wonders of life. The little bluff offered so many opportunities for teaching ecology that the group hardly had time for the rest of the hike.

Community organizations, like FortWhyte Alive, South Central Eco Institute, SRRCD, and TCDC make the most of experiential learning opportunities in the great outdoors.

Kent Lewarne runs the Riverwatch program at South Central Eco Institute. Riverwatch is a program linking the classroom study of chemistry, the nitrogen cycle, and environmental issues to real world understanding of watershed health pertaining to Lake Winnipeg. Students involved in all aspects of water quality testing help collect and analyze water samples and learn about what the results mean for our watershed.

Dorthea Grégoire at SRRCD runs the Backwater Buggin’ program. The program focuses on community ecology, biological diversity, and the importance of insect communities in monitoring ecosystem and waterway health. Students participating in Backwater Buggin’ gain hands-on experience by collecting and analyzing bug samples to learn more about the health of our rivers and streams and the different types of insect communities that live in our waterways.

The expertise of these community organizations empower educators to bring environmental education to life at places such as the Tourond Creek Discovery Centre. The TCDC is a public space and natural environment in the RM of Hanover. It is visited by families, nature-lovers, and school groups in the Southeast. Visitors come to the TCDC to discover the diversity of plant and animal life unique to the five distinct micro-ecosystems at the centre. Students and educators using the site as an outdoor classroom experience our connectedness to nature by encountering the natural systems vital to our sustainability.

Kathryn Labiuk is one of four teachers at Steinbach Regional Secondary School who took advantage of outdoor learning opportunities at TCDC during the school’s innovation week. Kathryn says, “The Tourond Creek Discovery Centre is a great local option for allowing students to encounter the outdoors with a fresh perspective. The space provides opportunities for students to engage in cross-curricular learning in an environment that encourages group interactions.”

Educators, like Kathryn, are taking the lead on outdoor education by making real world connections to the school curriculum at TCDC. The outdoor learning potential at TCDC provides endless possibilities for experiential learning.

You can call or email the SRRCD for more information about the programs we offer or to book your TCDC visit. Visit us online at www.srrcd.ca, or at www.tourondcreekdiscovery.ca.

Frog Pond a Ribbeting Success May 16th, 2017

Posted in: Environmental Education Rain Gardens Water Storage/Retention Watershed Moments

Each year, eager frog lovers seek out the most ambitious amphibians worthy of competing at the St-Pierre Frog Follies National Frog Jumping Championship. This popular event involves safely catching and releasing frogs from the local area. Contest participants register their chosen contenders in the frog jumping tournament to champion the frog with the furthest hop!

 

The Frog Follies annual community festival in the Village of St-Pierre-Jolys has grown leaps and bounds since it was first inaugurated in 1970 by Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles. This unique festival celebrating francophone heritage inspired the development of a brand new naturalized amphibian habitat at Parc Carillon community park.

 

In 2016, the Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) entered into a cost-share partnership with the Parc Carillon Committee to transform the existing one acre pond into a natural wetland ecosystem and frog spawning habitat. Soil removed from the pond excavation was used to create landscaped mounds as observation areas. They provide suitable frog habitat for protective cover during the day, as well as hibernation habitat during cold winter months.

 

Native plant species in the wetland environment are being planted to contribute to greater biodiversity in the local environment, as well to provide natural habitat to a variety of adult frog species. Native plants are naturally adapted to our climate and environmental conditions. This means that their root systems penetrate deep into the ground to improve water infiltration. The SRRCD planted a variety of native plant species in 2016 and will complete the naturalization of the pond in 2017.

 

The Parc Carillon Frog Pond also functions as an urban storm water detention that utilizes the natural ecological functions of wetlands to retain and slow high water flows, reduce runoff in urban and semi-urban areas, and purify water quality with native plant species. Naturalized urban water detentions can be incorporated into aesthetically pleasing urban design features with naturally wild or manicured appearances for sustainable environmental development and integrated watershed planning and management.

 

“This project will be a great addition to Parc Carillon – one that will particularly interest classrooms,” said Raymond Maynard, Parc Carillon Committee President. “Interpretive signs will not only help describe the project, they will also point to the similarities between the pond and St-Pierre-Jolys’ lagoon expansion, a first of its kind using ongoing phytoremediation [plant-based remediation] as part of the treatment process.”

 

The success of the Parc Carillon Frog Pond gives meaning to the value of building strong partnerships at the local level. The SRRCD and Village of St-Pierre-Jolys cost-shared the project for $10,000 each. The SRRCD took the lead on the project with design support provided by Native Plant Solutions.

 

The Parc Carillon Frog Pond is an innovative wetland ecosystem and viable model for urban storm water management. This unique amphibian habitat is intrinsic to the community and home to the next generation of frog jumping champions.

 

 

 

 

Backwater Buggin’ for Healthy Waterways January 31st, 2017

Posted in: Environmental Education Water Quality Testing Watershed Moments

The Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) is excited to launch Backwater Buggin’ for Healthy Waterways. Backwater Buggin’ is a unique program implemented by the SRRCD in partnership with local schools. District staff help students collect information about the health of river and streams by examining the different types of bug communities that live in our waterways.

Did you know that water bugs can tell us a lot about the health of our waterways? That’s because some kinds of bugs are sensitive to changes in their environment. Pollution in our waterways can affect the abundance and diversity of benthic macro-invertebrate communities. Benthic macro-invertebrates are bottom dwelling bugs with no backbone. They live among the stones, logs, sediments, and plants of freshwater rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands. They are large enough to see and include species, such as dragonfly and stonefly larvae, snails, worms, and beetles.

Bottom dwelling macro-invertebrates are reliable indicators of the biological health of waterways. They are ideal indicators because they spend all or most of their lives in water, are easy to collect, and differ in their tolerance to pollution. Healthy waterways can support a wide variety and high number of benthic macro-invertebrate species, including many that are less tolerant of pollution. Bug communities with only pollution-tolerant species, or very little abundance and diversity of macro-invertebrate species, may indicate a less healthy waterway.

Backwater Buggin’ is an aquatic biomonitoring program implemented by the SRRCD for collecting samples of benthic macro-invertebrate community compositions in southeast Manitoba. The bug samples we collect are used to establish a baseline for evaluating watershed health by sampling sites under the guidelines established by the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN). The CABIN program is maintained by Environment Canada and allows project partners to take their observations and make a formalized scientific assessment on watershed health using nationally comparable standards. This means that the data we collect through ongoing sampling will be shared with researchers across Canada working to support initiatives that promote healthy watersheds.

Backwater Buggin’ is a comprehensive biomonitoring program incorporating CABIN protocols to test for over a dozen parameters at each sampling site, including nitrogen, phosphorus – and bugs, of course. The high quality data collected through Backwater Buggin’ gives us a better understanding of why our waterways are in the state of health they are in. This data also increases the capacity for communities and local governments to make more informed decisions about sustainable watershed management. The SRRCD will use data collected through this program to guide the implementation of best management practices through existing Conservation District programming for reducing nutrient loading, sedimentation, and loss of functional riparian habitat.

The program also engages the community through public participation to identify and address surface water quality priorities in southeast Manitoba. The program is already generating excitement at Shevchenko School in Vita where junior and high school students are developing a bug library. This reference library of benthic macro-invertebrate specimens is being put together by the Shevchenko School Biomonitoring Group under the supervision of the SRRCD. The library will be maintained by the SRRCD and made publically available to educators and interested groups in the southeast. Students participating in Backwater Buggin’ gain hands-on experience by participating in sample collection and processing. Students also learn an appreciation for science-based water management issues in our region. The reference library also exposes students to practical applications of basic biological principals taught in school.

Backwater Buggin’ for Healthy Watersheds successfully piloted the project at 11 sample sites in the Roseau River watershed with plans to add additional sampling sites throughout the rest of the district. Contact our office in La Broquerie at (204) 424-5845, or in Vita at (204) 425-7877 to learn more about Backwater Buggin’ for Healthy Waterways. You can also visit us online at www.srrcd.ca.

 

Connecting with Nature at Rosenthal Nature Park June 20th, 2016

Posted in: Environmental Education Tourond Creek Discovery Centre / Rosenthal Nature Park Watershed Moments

This post was submitted by Alan Wiebe at the Seine-Rat River Conservation District

Historic community of Rosenthal

The Rosenthal Nature Park is a public space located in Mitchell, Manitoba, and is the site of the historic community of Rosenthal. This village was home to some 25 families who established themselves in the mid-1870s before relocating prior to the census of 1881. The presence of artifacts and the preservation of this site are intrinsic to the history of the local area that is characterized by rapid population growth and development.

Model for sustainable developmentUpland grasstand

Rapid population growth and development, and the severity of high water events in the southeast has culminated in an urgent need to rethink surface water management strategies and development planning. The Rosenthal Nature Park is an innovative model for sustainable development and integrated watershed management. It demonstrates the viability of utilizing the natural functions of wetlands to retain and slow high water flows; reduce surface water runoff in urban and semi-urban areas; and purify water quality with native plant species.

Park design

The design of the Rosenthal Nature Park is comprised of walking trails that connect the wetland and upland ecosystems of the park to wildlife observation areas. Observation areas throughout the park offer a visually pleasing and comfortable environment for visitors to encounter local wildlife.

The wetland ecosysWetland Observationtem is characterized by a lake and peninsula. This constructed wetland is planted with native aquatic plant species from local donor sites and is an ideal habitat for native and migratory water fowl.

The upland ecosystem of the park is seeded with a wild flower mix that flourishes into a colourful array of flowering plants that invite various butterfly species to the area. A forage mix seeded alongside the existing bushes bordering the northerly edge of the park provides the ideal vegetative ground cover for deer foraging. Grassland birdhouses and waterfowl houses placed throughout the park offer waterfowl and shorebird species places to nest.

Today, the Rosenthal Nature Park is bursting with life. The range of plant and wildlife species throughout the park contribute to greater biodiversity in the area and reflects an intentional effort to bring together the human and physical environment.

Strong partnerships transform Rosenthal site

The site of the Rosenthal Nature Park was formerly used as a borrow pit to shape the berm surrounding the Mitchell lagoon. Seine-Rat River Conservation District (SRRCD) members of the Manning Canal sub-watershed worked together with the SRRCD Board and staff, as well as the RM of Hanover, to restore ecological function to the site. The RM of Hanover and the SRRCD subsequently entered into a cost-share partnership to re-naturalize the site for public use.

Connecting with nature

Connecting with nature through outdoor exploration is an essential component of the Rosenthal Nature Park. The park is modeled after the Tourond Creek Discovery Centre (TCDC) in Kleefeld. The TCDC is a green environment that is visited by families, nature lovers, and school groups. Teachers use the site as an outdoor classroom by facilitating hands-on learning activities that encourage outdoor play. These activities are designed to give meaning to environmental education by allowing students to interact with nature through fun, outdoor activities. More information about the TCDC is available online at www.tourondcreekdiscovery.ca. While the Rosenthal Nature Park provides opportunities for environmental education, it is a unique green environment that is now open for you to explore.

The naturalized environment of the Rosenthal Nature Park supports a broader vision for community health. It integrates active transportation and outdoor exploration into a unique green environment that facilitates the discovery of meaningful connections with nature.

The Rosenthal Nature Park is located north of Mitchell on Randolph Road and east of Road 30-E.

We look forward to seeing you there!
Rosenthal Map