Students learning aquatic biology firsthand with a local biologist and Wild Voices for Kids Community Educator.

Students learning aquatic biology firsthand with a local biologist and Wild Voices for Kids Community Educator.

Kootenay corporate community gets kids outside

Kootenay-based businesses sponsor the Wild Voices for Kids Program

For the Townsman

This summer the Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network launched a Kootenay-wide Corporate Challenge with the goal of attracting 10 Kootenay-based businesses to sponsor the Wild Voices for Kids Program. This program started over a decade ago and now offers 125 different curriculum-linked environmental education field trips and presentations led by 75 local experts across the Kootenays. Since 2009, CBEEN has offered these programs to 50,000 students in all of the region’s six school districts. However, demand for these programs continues to grow.

In order to help meet this demand 10 local businesses have come on board and offered their support. VAST Resource Solutions (Cranbrook), Kootenay Mountain Works (Kimberley), Kootenay Co-op (Nelson), Oso Negro Coffee (Nelson), Overwaitea Foods (Kimberley), The Heidout (Cranbrook), Copper Point Resort (Invermere), Caliper Machine & Hydraulics (Cranbrook) Williams and Associates (Cranbrook) and Conservation by Design Inc. (Nelson) all contributed to this campaign.

In the 2013-14 school year over 300 environmental and heritage programs by local experts were presented to over 7,000 students. Last year’s Wild Voices for Kids programs included hands-on fossil studies, snowshoeing adventures, and learning how animals survive even in extreme temperatures.  Each presentation helps teachers to meet curriculum needs in a unique way, and is connected directly to our local environment. CBEEN also brought in Guest Educator Brian Keating, who is a renowned author, explorer, naturalist and professor. During his visit he treated hundreds of students to a special ‘Going Wild’ natural history presentation.

“This was our fifth year of providing curriculum-linked programs to schools using local, passionate experts sharing their love and knowledge of the land, wildlife and ecosystems with children in the Basin. We couldn’t be happier with the number of students and the high quality of programming we offered in the last year!” said Susie MacDonald, Wild Voices for Kids Program Coordinator.  “The Columbia Basin is leading by example, and is currently the only area in Canada where this type of programming exists.  We are so fortunate to live in such a spectacular landscape that acts as a living classroom!”

For more information on Wild Voices for Kids go to cbeen.org/wvfk or contact MacDonald at wildvoices@cbeen.org.