Small town Delisle is home to one of Saskatchewan's most promising environmental education classes for rural, secondary schools as their teacher Chris Friesen attests.
I'd like them to get them to think about biodiversity and our ravaged landscape. For some this just takes maturity but it's important to get the ideas out there. Chris Friesen
Chris, originally from an outdoor-loving family, has been teaching for 11 years in science and phys ed. He convinced the principal that the overcrowded gym would be better served if a portion of the students weren't using it and rather, taking their physical education outdoors. The principal agreed and Chris was set on a path of course creation that has received widespread community support and student interest.
Each year the community gives $500 to support the program and the 2 nearby potash mines contribute $500/mine for supplies purchasing.
The class is designed for grade 10 students and 25 apply to get into the class. This number is high given that only 60-70 exist in each class in Delisle. The class is every afternoon (70% of their time is spent outdoors).
A typical day:
Students meet at 1 pm, grab a pair of snowshoes and go into the town's golf course laden with snow. After some exercise, they might share a cup of tea in a sheltered area and "talk biology", using their assigned prep readings' information.
The class has traveled to Pike Lake (cycled there) and has traveled to the Nisbett Forest, Meadow Lake for hiking and canoeing, and Douglas & Daniels Parks for field and learning trips.
Friesen admits that rural kids are comfortable in the outdoors. They use the information at home and can immediately apply it to their lives living closer to nature. 80% of the students in the environmental class are farm kids.
Plans for the future? Friesen hopes to promote more of the interconnectedness "aha's" that come from looking at our personal behaviours and what that means in terms of environmental impacts.
I'd like them to get them to think about biodiversity and our ravaged landscape. For some this just takes maturity but it's important to get the ideas out there, Friesen contends.
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