The Stewards in Training School Program is offered free to all Salt Spring Island students in grades K – 8. Every year they spend a day at one of the island’s natural places, engaged in hands-on learning about local ecosystems. Through playful, thoughtful, and introspective activities, the program creates the space for learners to develop a sense of place and a sense of wonder and curiosity about the natural world. Participation in small groups (4-7 students) nurtures personal connections, a sense of ownership and personal responsibility for the local environment.

The program is influenced by Richard Louv’s work, Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, and is guided by the Government of British Columbia, Ministry of Education, Environmental Learning and Experience Policy (2006).

More about program objectives and philosophy can be found in the Overview below.

Overview of Field Programs

There are two field programs for each grade group which alternate each year as Program A and Program B. The grade 6/7/8 program is on a three-year rotation. The programs are listed below as they would occur in a school year, starting in the fall. Post-trips are conducted if time permits in the schedule.

Schools Program Coordinators: Contact

Program A

Grades 2 & 3 Cultural & Natural Stewardship

Season: Fall
Location: Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park
Theme: Plants, Animals and History of Burgoyne Bay
Description: The pre-trip session involves the students constructing a field journal and discussions on how to respect a provincial park (living and non-living things). Four stations include: compass work to find clues to Burgoyne’s history, nature journaling, nature identification, and forest sensory search.

Grades 4 & 5 Marine Stewardship

Season: Fall
Location: Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park
Theme: Marine Ecosystems and First Nations
Description: The pre-trip session involves the students constructing a field journal and playing a Marine Jeopardy game. Station activities: First Nations midden, nature journaling, seine netting an eel grass meadow, and intertidal substrate animals.

Kindergarten & Grade 1

Season: Late Spring
Location: Duck Creek
Theme: Field and Stream Exploration
Description: The pre-trip session involves students looking at some tadpoles that are brought into the classroom and colouring their journal covers. Station activities: field and stream explorations including slugs, scavenger hunt, boat races, daisy chains, buttercups and field discoveries.

Program B

Grades 4 & 5 History & Forest Stewardship

Season: Fall
Location: Ruckle Provincial Park, Cusheon Cove
Theme: Evidence of Asian & European Settler Land Use
Description: The pre-trip session involves the students constructing a field journal and an introduction to the importance and function of the sawmill at Cusheon Cove. Station activities include: history with compass work, museum, First Nations plant technology, and wood craft.

Grades 2 & 3 Wetlands Stewardship

Season: Early Spring
Location: Blackburn Lake Nature Reserve
Theme: Wetlands Ecosystems
Description: For the pre-trip students construct a field journal and discuss stewardship. Station activities: First Nations plant technology, nature journalling, pond invertebrates, and silent walk.

Grades K & 1

Season: Late Spring
Location: Ruckle Provincial Park
Theme: Forest and Beach Ecosystems
Description: The pre-trip involves the students looking at “cool” nature stuff, discussing park and farm etiquette and colouring in their journal cover. Station activities: a beach scavenger hunt, maple moments, mystery bags, tree identification and chlorophyl discovery.

Program C

Grade 6/7/8 Programs (three-year cycle)

Water Stewardship

Season: Early Spring
Location: East side of Ford Lake on Ducks Unlimited land
Theme: Wetlands – Critical Ecosystems
Description: The pre-trip session involves the students constructing a field journal and discussion of aquatic biomes and adaptations. Field stations: creek, pond, marsh, and forest/beaver pond biomes.

Andreas Vogt Ecosystem Stewardship

Season: Early Spring
Location: Andreas Vogt Nature Reserve
Theme: Stewardship of Gary Oak Ecosystems
Description: The pre-trip session involves the students constructing a field journal, dialogue on what is stewardship, and creation of plant cards.
Station activities: plant identification, invasive species, quadrat studies, and wildlife trees.

Species at Risk

Season: Early Spring
Location: Blackburn Lake Nature Reserve
Theme: Species at Risk
Description: The pre-trip session involves students learning about habitat protection and species at risk. Station activities: building bird boxes, bats inquiry, restoration, Northern Red-legged Frog, Great Blue Heron, invasive species.