École Margaret Jenkins Elementary students bringing back Garry Oak ecosystem

Once a week, students from Margaret Jenkins Elementary have been clearing brush near their school.

It warms the heart of school parent Stephanie Weinstein, who’s also Wild BC‘s Environmental Educator.

“It’s amazing” says Weinstein. “They’re so proud of it, they love being outdoors.

“There’s five classes involved at the school, and somebody’s coming out here every week.”

The project is overseen by the Chair of the Friends of Uplands Park.

“Our mission” says Margaret Lidkea, “is to promote or offer opportunities for stewardship, education and inspiration.

“We do a lot of public programs. We had about eighty-nine last year, including fifty classes.”

Grade five student Turquoise explains that “there’s lots of different plants that are trying to survive under all the gorse and broom.

“It’s hard, and rewarding work, and we learn a lot, like teamwork, and stuff like that.”

Taiga is in grade five, and found a moment to talk to CHEK, while busy with a hand saw.

“You have to cut off the bark, and then that’s easy, and then you have to get to the core, where all the nutrients, and where everything goes up into the bush, it’s like, really hard, and then in the last layer, it’s like the bark is just resisting against you.”

$500 dollars in gloves are courtesy of Wild BC.

The Friends of Uplands Park provided the shears.

The Oak Bay Parks Department is fully supportive. They’ll remove what the students have cleared.

“We get funding from the Oak Bay Council” says Lidkea, “for providing the tools, and you can see how valuable this is in this educational setting for this school.”

“It’s really important to do, because the Garry Oak ecosystem is one of the most endangered in Canada” says Anton, a grade four student.

Stephanie Weinstein from Wild Arc echoes Anton’s comment.

“There’s many, many native plants that are starting to emerge, who’s seeds were in the soil, and bulbs in the soil, now that they’re getting some light.”

“My goal” says Lidkea, “is to get kids outdoors, so then, they know they have a sense of place…they belong.

“They love being outdoors, and, of course, they’re going to become the stewards of tomorrow.”