With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, school field trips on Prince Edward Island are once again happening, allowing more than 500 Grade 4 students to visit a marshland in Charlottetown last week to learn about the environmental impact of humans on nature.
The field trips were part of a national Ducks Unlimited Canada program called Wetland Centres of Excellence
"They haven't done field trips in quite a while, so this is the first year that they're getting to start back after a couple of years," said Tiffany Ramlogan, a nature interpreter with DUC.
The activities included nature walks, learning to identify plant and animal species and critter dipping — looking for different creatures in the water and mud.
"I've never done this before and I want to learn about nature," said Grade 4 student Adam Zhao, who was excited when he found out his class was going on the field trip..
"I want to learn how to save the nature and make the world a better place."
Zhao said he found fish and insects in the marsh, and that his favourite part of the trip was learning about the different animals.
High school mentorship
As part of DUC's program, high school students in environmental studies and conservation classes at Charlottetown Rural were asked to volunteer as mentors for the elementary-aged children.
The older students spent time training with the P.E.I. Ducks Unlimited team, and prepared the marsh and surrounding green space for the incoming Grade 4 classes.
High school mentor Jeremie Boutilier said he wanted to get involved with the wetlands program to help the younger students understand the impact they have on the environment.
"I'm hoping that later on, even when they get to high school, that they'll want to take different classes, like environmental studies or oceanography, and just appreciate more about wetlands and our environment," he said.
"Hopefully that stays with them."
Boutilier and his classmates said they really enjoyed watching the elementary school children run around and explore the marsh.
The high school students not only train to be mentors, but also learn how to steward local wetlands by planting trees, removing invasive species and conducting research.
Ramlogan said the field trips have gone better than expected, and that it's nice for the students to get hands-on experience.
"The students have been really excited to be out here."