Students from Raft River and Barriere Elementary schools recently had a chance to learn some different lessons while basking in glorious fall sunshine.
Tina Donald of Simpcw First Nation coordinated three days of fun and learning using the outdoor classroom at the Raft River salmon-viewing site. The Simpcw First Nation councillor has coordinated the Raft River Salmon Interpretive Program for the past five years with a variety of partners.
This year, she coordinated with Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Thompson Nicola Regional District and Kinder Morgan to operate the three-day program. The program includes many aspects of fish and fish habitat and Simpcw First Nation fisheries knowledge and history.
The students divided into groups to rotate through each of four stations. Each group spent about 15 minutes at each station.
Simpcw representative Shelley Loring sang a welcome song and shared Simpcw culture, history and language with the students. She told of how the Simpcw travelled along the North Thompson Valley and of the pithouses located near the mouth of Raft River. The Simpcw people named places largely based on the reason for being there. She explained the importance of the salmon from Raft River to their survival. She described how they collected things off the land to make birch bark cooking pots and turtle rattles.
Jason Turner of Kinder Morgan showed the students both bat and birdhouses. He explained how the bats are our friends since they eat so many flying insects. Jim Zsednai along with Clearwater Secondary School students Donald Ritchie and Chance Tobin helped build bat-houses and birdhouses with the students. A brightly painted bat-house completed by students sat on a table while the paint dried (oops). These will be put into service somewhere.
TNRD rep Katelyn Leitch put the students through the Bear Aware Program. She showed how to identify grizzly and black bears, and what to do when confronted by them. Becky Haywood-Farmer works with the Southern Interior Weed Management Committee. Her display showed the many noxious weeds found throughout the province.
Fisheries and Oceans staff Ron Hudema and Monte Bromley showed the students insect and fish samples collected from Raft River. Hudema explained the characteristics of a healthy stream while showing the students these natural food fish items. With the use of flash cards, the students learned how to identify the aquatic stages of mayflies, stoneflies and caddis flies.
Hudema pointed out a nearby birch tree standing beside the river and explained its importance in providing shade, stabilizing the banks and providing food as bugs fall from it. He told how, even after it has died and fallen in the river, it would help the fish by providing cover for them to hide in.
The bussing costs for this program are paid for by donations from corporate sponsors.
– Grant Gale