A couple of grants are allowing a Skeena conservationship education program to expand into the Bulkley Valley.
BC Hydro and the TD Friends of the Environment Fund gave money to The SkeenaWild Conservation Trust.
SkeenaWild Education Coordinator Christine Slanz said this money will go toward their education program that started about two years ago.
“It is all about going into the schools and teaching salmon life cycle and everything about watersheds with a completely Skeena focus,” she said. “It is aligned with the curriculum in that we have place-based learning, experiential learning, hands-on learning.”
Last year they ran the program as a pilot with workshops in the Terrace area schools but this funding allows for the expansion.
“We looked at just doing lesson plans but after having conversations with teachers and school administrators, they liked an expert coming into the classroom so there is a different voice and face, she said. “The whole goal of our program is to educate kids on what is happening in our rivers and lakes and all about salmon, which is an important part of our culture and economy, but also to hopefully inspire them to be watershed stewards and being interested in salmon conservation.”
However, Slanz just isn’t sure yet if COVID-19 will allow for the expansion. While they are not sure what the school year will look like but at this point, she said they will be setting up a Zoom classroom workshop.
“Because it has always been hands-on with materials, what I would be doing is sending a watershed in a box. Putting all the supplies together and deliver them to classrooms so students can follow along. Sometimes a pandemic can create opportunities; this is a way we can expand the program to all the communities along the watershed.”
Slanz is hoping to run the program in Hazelton, Smithers and Telkwa schools.
In the same intake, BC Hydro also gave Upper Skeena Community Learning Society in Hazelton $2,000 to be put toward their Youth Works program.
Community Organizer at The Learning Shop Anissa Watson said Youth Works is a social enterprise.
“It is a small kitchen and catering business that operates out of the Learning Shop in Hazelton,” she explained. “Youth ages 18-30 are employed part-time to provide local healthy food for our local business contracts at the same time as learning workplace employment skills.
“Youth Works was started by a group of youth about ten years ago because they recognized both the need for supported employment for young folks who needed a bit more in place to be happily employed and successful in developing the skills they need to live a good life. Youth are supported in their wellness, personal goal setting, and connecting to community supports.”
However, Youth Works has been closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are beginning the process of re-starting safely within guidelines so they can continue to operate on a slightly smaller scale.
“The BC Hydro grant is an asset in re-starting Youth Works as it will allow us to purchase the necessary equipment to set our commercial kitchen space up and train youth according to BC CDC (Centre for Disease Control) guidelines, it could not have come at a better time,” Watson added.