Snowshoes break the trail to ecology lesson for kids – Prince Edward Island

Students in Grades 2 and 3 strapped on snowshoes Friday for hands on lessons in winter forest ecology.

The Island Nature Trust led the group of children from Gulf Shore Consolidated hoofed it through the woods behind their school in North Rustico,

P.E.I. Tracks in the soft, melting snow had Nolan Mackay and his chums puzzled.

“Do you guys think this is an American beaver?” Nolan shouted.

“No!” came the reply from Matthew Toombs.

“Red fox maybe,” said Maven LaVoie.

Student Nolan Mackay deciphers clues to what animal left tracks in the snow. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The trio consulted a laminated sheet supplied by the Island Nature Trust. It showed pictures of animal tracks.

“Red fox, definitely.”

‘Look at forests in a different way’

In a clearing among the trees, Julie-Lynn Zahavich, stewardship coordinator with the Island Nature Trust, explained what the Forest Ecology Program is all about.

“We’re hoping students look at forests in a different way,” said Zahavich. “It can have lots of things attractive to wildlife. We’re hoping that they’ll see the difference between a natural forest and maybe a single species forest that doesn’t have those features that make it more welcoming to winter wildlife.”

Students practice orienteering with map and compass. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The nature trust is running the program with a $5,000 grant from the P.E.I. Wildlife Conservation Fund. Staff are offering the program to schools through the end of March.

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