Island Nature Trust
Beach-dune Ecosystems - Educate to Protect
Island Nature Trust has collaborated with watershed groups in western PEI since 2017 to bring an immersive education platform to grade 7 science students focused on the fragile beach-dune ecosystem in their communities. This project is a continuation and expansion of that program. It delivered a conservation message to grade 7 students across PEI, stressing the value of beach-dune ecosystems to wildlife and people in PEI. The grade 7 science curriculum contains modules relating to Interactions within Ecosystems and Earth's Crust (particularly erosion and weathering processes), and therefore lends itself to interactive education on beaches and dunes. This first phase of a two-phase program focused on in-class science presentations. The in-class sessions of phase 1 were delivered in whole or in part to 6 of 7 intermediate schools across PEI in the winter of 2020. The remaining sessions were postponed due to the closures of schools as part of the COVID-19 response from the Public School Board.
The second phase of the program involves field trips to a local beach for a hands-on, immersive experience. In May or June, grade seven students from the 13 classes across PEI will hopefully participate in phase two. Students will be led through four modules that correspond to the main elements of beach-dune ecology as covered in the classroom sessions. The four modules are:
Discovering Beach and Dune Vegetation
Discovering Life in the Fore-Dune
Discovering Life in the Tidal Zone
Uses and Impacts
In total, 275 students in 13 classes from Tignish to Rustico were engaged in locally relevant, age-targeted education on beaches and dunes. Our hope is that hands-on experience combined with engaging classroom presentations will produce a more informed generation that is connected to, understands and protects these fragile places on their doorsteps.