Katy Fulton from the Nature Conservancy of Canada

Katy Fulton from the Nature Conservancy of Canada

City kids get wild in nature

George Jay and Tilicum elementary school students got out of the classroom to experience nature firsthand

A group of city kids got out of the classroom for a day to explore, discover and learn about nature.

Victoria resident Conan Webb created the Wild to Child program to get kids excited about the outdoors.

“I’m really passionate about nature, and I see a lot of kids growing up in the city not really having access to it,” said Webb.

Around 40 Grade 1 and 2 students from George Jay and Tilicum elementary schools went to the Matson Lands Conservation Area in Esquimalt on Thursday.

They participated in four activity stations, led by the Royal B.C. Museum, Habitat Acquisition Trust and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Prior to the event, the kids visited the Royal B.C. Museum’s wildlife photography exhibit and had classroom visits from the Nature Conservancy.

While at the Matson Lands, they learned to take photos themselves and explored different natural habitats through scavenger hunts and other activities.

“It’s really to create leaders for a sustainable future by getting our young learners out to experience nature so that they can build that affinity with it, that link, that appreciation,” said Webb. “So as they grow up and become leaders in our community, they’ll have that link, and that will help to shape their decisions around what they do. I worry what sorts of decisions our future leaders will be making if they don’t have that link with nature.”

Winona Waldron, Grade 1 teacher at George Jay, said it was fantastic to see the kids’ energy as they played and explored outside.

“Kids spend so much time on screens now, and are so connected to that world. To get them out into nature where the play is not controlled or regimented, where they’re inventing play of their own in a natural environment, really shifts their ideas about the world,” she said. “The amount of learning I saw happening was huge.”

Jill Robinson, stewardship coordinator at Habitat Acquisition Trust, helped organize and run the scavenger hunt at the Matson Lands, which is owned by HAT.

“For a lot of kids, if they don’t have that exposure, that experience with natural areas, they just don’t have an appreciation or a value for our natural ecosystems,” she said. “That ‘s important to engrain in them, this value for nature. So in years to come, when they’re taking care of the land, that’s something that’s important to them.”

The students’ photographs and artwork of their time at the Matson Lands will be presented at the Royal B.C. Museum’s Wonder Sunday family event on May 31.