Project Webfoot celebrates milestone

Katie
Katie Tower
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 Tantramar Wetlands Centre student volunteers Mark Oulton, left, and Ryan Perkins provide Grade 4 Salem Elementary students with an up-close look at some of the small critters that live within the wetlands habitat. The Grade 4 class visited the wetlands centre at Tantramar Regional High School last week as part of Ducks Unlimited Canada’s Project Webfoot, a program which has seen 100,000 students from New Brunswick receive wetland education.  See story on page 7. TOWER PHOTO

SACKVILLE, N.B. – A program that helps young children in New Brunswick develop an enthusiasm for wetlands and the creatures that live there hit a significant milestone last week.

Ducks Unlimited Canada celebrated its 100,000th Grade 4 student having gone through its Project Webfoot program, many of whom have taken part in the hands-on learning offered at Sackville’s own Tantramar Wetlands Centre.

Project Webfoot has provided wetland education to kids since 1996, a program that aims to give youth a better understanding of the wetland habitats and the reasons why wetlands are so valuable to humans. Through interactive activities and exploration of the wetlands, Project Webfoot links to the Grade 4 science curriculum, which features a unit on habitat and communities.

“It encourages the teachers to use the wetland habitat as part of their lesson plan,” said Sarah Green, an education specialist with DU Atlantic, during last week’s visit to the Tantramar Wetlands Centre.

The teachers are provided with resource kits and can plan field trips to wetlands in their area, said Green.

Krista Elliott, communications coordinator with Ducks Unlimited, said DU has been partnering with the Wetlands Centre for more than 10 years now to offer Project Webfoot. The program encourages students to pursue related studies and careers in conservation.

“It all comes back,” she said. “They develop an interest at a young age and gain an appreciation for it . . . and then some of them end up working for Ducks Unlimited or Environment Canada or other conservation groups.”

Elliott said the program has been able to survive for nearly 20 years thanks to community support. Not only does DU get business sponsorship each year to assist with the program, but Project Webfoot also has a number of partners and individuals who help keep it on its feet.

“This gives us the means to bring the classes out so there’s no cost to the school,” she said.

Organizations: Ducks Unlimited, Tantramar Wetlands Centre, Environment Canada

Geographic location: New Brunswick