Experiential Field Schools
Some of the most advanced and community-driven restoration programs in the region are offered here on Galiano Island. For four summers, Professor Eric Higgs has brought UVic students to the island for a field course in Advanced Principles and Practices in Ecological Restoration. Students can choose from a variety of projects—summer 2016 students worked on “the design of an apiary, a native food forage forest, strategies for removing Scotch broom, implementing a meteorology program, designing a backcountry campsite, ramping up a native seed bank, and bringing solar education to the Learning Centre.” As with the high school students from Saturna Ecological Education Centre (SEEC) , undergraduate students benefit from being immersed in the field with hands-on learning.
According to Professor Higgs, “The ES 441 class is a true partnership between UVic’s School of Environmental Studies and the Galiano Conservancy Association. It is not a course dropped into a beautiful location, but a learning experience that emerges out of the culture and ecology of Galiano Island.”
This long-term partnership is an example of the durability Galiano Conservancy Association has to offer from our innovative programs. While working with restoration principles, students make a vital connection to the land. Fostering the connection between the Conservancy and secondary and post-secondary education is an important gateway for youth to the land and is one that is made to last.
The essence of these field schools is to promote sustainability and restoration principles—and connect students with the communities around them. In turn, students also solidify lifelong bonds with each other and to the land they get to know intimately. Like a mushroom’s mycelium weaving its way through the forest floor, they begin to foster connections to a greater whole and become environmental stewards. Next time you enter the forest, ask yourself what stories a landscape holds. The conversation for many of us has become life long, with many twists and turns, but always seeing us back in the forest someday.
“What a passionate team of mentors to work with and learn from! ES 441 meant muddy rubber boots and engaged conversations—by the wood stove, on afternoon transects, or at the cozy Conservancy office—and sprouted deep investment in learning. I grew so much.”
– Navi Smith, 2013, ES 411 student