On September 25th, we had 23 students from Woodland Park Elementary School join Ria, Frieda and co-op student Sadie for our Coastal Forest of Pebble Beach Program.
It was a beautiful clear day, after lots of rain in a lush forest. We saw sprouting fungus, and walked through all hues of green in a multi layered Pacific Coastal Forest. The excited and energetic kids were ready to learn and experience nature. On the trail to Pebble Beach small groups of students taught and learned different components of a healthy mature forest to and from each other.
We all arrived at Pebble Beach to a misty fog and high tide. As groups of kids reached the beach and saw the beautiful scenery, one student was overheard saying, “It’s like arriving in heaven.” Mr. Speak, their teacher, got the kids to make ‘Nature art’- a time to use foraged material on the ground to create individual art pieces! What a great way of expressing themselves and so much fun doing it in nature.
Next, we took the kids on a silent meditation walk from Pebble to Cable Bay North. During the meditation, we observed and identified the components of a healthy ecosystem—how big and diverse the trees are, how soft the ground is, and how the sounds of the leaves, birds, and the ocean made us feel. We were even observed by some playing river otters and a sneaky harbour seal. Kids finished the walk with their eyes open and a focus on nature.
To finish off this amazing day, we walked to the adjacent plantation forest of District Lot 63 and into the Conservancies’ restoration area. The students could easily identify the tightly packed monoculture of Douglas fir and looking up into a dark canopy, it was clear removing a tree would be beneficial to the site. As young naturalist, they worked one at a time pulling our chain hoist to slowly bring down a Douglas fir. With a crack and a slow crash the tree was down. Cheering and laughter filled the forest as the kids ran to see their accomplished restoration work. We analyzed the small root wade and new pit we had created and were so happy to detect the new little hole of light. Kids knew right away they had created a canopy gap, which will allow light to penetrate the forest floor and bring new species to flourish. Not only that, but the roots and pit will be a hole for moisture to collect and a habitat for new plants and creatures!
What a great day in the forest to really feel and open our mind and eyes to the natural world that surrounds us. We all shared what we liked and learned from the day and many students loved the tree-pull and silent walk, one student summed it up with – “I learned this place is epic!”