Local students learned about the ecological importance of Elizabeth Lake during an event with the Rocky Mountain Naturalists and Keefer Ecological Services in June 2022. Photo courtesy Wildsight.

Local students learned about the ecological importance of Elizabeth Lake during an event with the Rocky Mountain Naturalists and Keefer Ecological Services in June 2022. Photo courtesy Wildsight.

Local educators raise concerns on CBT outdoor education funding cuts

As the Columbia Basin Trust ponders funding cuts to environmental education programming in the region, local educators are encouraging area residents to attend a community meeting in Kimberley on April 5 to make their voices heard.

“Outdoor education is part of the BC Curriculum and teachers are encouraged to take their students outdoors to learn what they used to learn in classrooms,” said Shelley Balfour, president of the Cranbrook and District Teachers’ Association.

“This is a very important part of our students’ learning and as such our teachers rely on the programs provided by the funding from CBT to continue this good work. The Arts programming also plays an integral role in the development of the whole child and without this funding, the excellent programming that is currently in place for our students will disappear.

I encourage everyone to attend Wednesday’s meeting to show community support for the excellent programming we receive from the CBT funds.”

The open house portion of the meeting runs from 3 p.m – 6 p.m., while a guided community conversation follows from 6:30 p.m – 8:30 p.m. at the Kimberley Convention Centre. There isn’t a community meeting scheduled for Cranbrook.

Last week, a spokesperson for the Columbia Basin Trust told the Kimberley Bulletin that environmental education did not emerge as a major theme when consulting with Basin residents on the current management plan over the last three years.

“Projects that take direct on-the-ground action to restore ecosystems and to support climate resilience in the Basin did emerge as major themes when the Trust engaged with residents,” said Delphi Hoodicoff, in a statement to the Kimberley Bulletin.

“The Trust developed new programs to support those areas.

“The Trust is proud to have supported environment education programs delivered by CBEEN [Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network] and Wildsight, and the efforts of their boards, staff and contractors in delivering programs.

“As new programs are developed or current programs continued, the Trust must make difficult budgeting decisions. When new programs are offered, funding for past programs often needs to be reduced or concluded so that limited resources can be used to meet the objectives of the Columbia Basin Management Plan.”

With files from Carolyn Grant/Kimberley Bulletin