Rivers Wetland Centre of Excellence
The Rivers Wetland Centre of Excellence had its start during the 2012-2013 school year. High school students from Rivers Collegiate Institute, with support from school staff, began the task of developing a Ducks Unlimited Canada Wetland Centre of Excellence. The students began by asking a number of questions such as “what is required to create a Ducks Unlimited Canada Wetland Centre of Excellence” and “what does the Ducks Unlimited Canada Wetland Centre of Excellence do for a community”. This exercise resulted in the development of a 5-year work plan for the Rivers Wetland Centre of Excellence.
The students take an active role in identifying projects and implementing them. One of the action items in the work plan required the students to identify community partners and make presentations to those groups. One of their successes was to secure a lease from the municipality to use municipal property, which was a reclaimed CN gravel pit, for the wetland centre of excellence.
Through new and existing courses, the students have completed projects that have included sweet clover management, set-up of a wind-powered aeration system, trail design, wording for interpretive signs, building docks, a boardwalk, and nest boxes, and website development (riverswetland.org). These projects as well as learning from experts to put together interpretive programs for younger students have been funded through an initial grant from Ducks Unlimited Canada. An overarching principle of the wetland centre of excellence program is that high school students teach the younger students about biodiversity which they have already started to do. The Rivers Wetland Centre of Excellence has attracted the attention of other schools in other school divisions.
In the meantime, community groups, school staff and students began meeting to combine resources and ideas to build the community aspect of the wetland centre of excellence. The Rivers and Area Community Foundation has been instrumental in bringing in funding to complete action items in the work plan. One such example was the grant formed through a partnership between CN and Tree Canada. This grant led to the mass planting of over 180,000 tree seedlings.
The Rivers Wetland Centre of Excellence has approximately 15 partners and contributors. Among them are Riverdale Municipality, Rivers and Area Game and Fish, Healthy Rivers, Little Saskatchewan River Conservation District, Rivers Train Station Restoration Committee, Brandon City Environment Committee and the Brandon & Area Community Foundation. Post-secondary students from Assiniboine Community College and Brandon University have completed projects that saw the formulation of solutions to address the removal of invasive species, construction of a trail system, addition of educational structures and the completion of a market analysis and development of a marketing strategy.
The passion for the Rivers Wetland Centre of Excellence is contagious. What started out as a five-year project is destined to be a legacy for the community. The Little Saskatchewan River Conservation District is honoured to recognize the Rivers Wetland Centre of Excellence as our 2016 Conservation Award recipient.
Download the Rivers Wetlands Centre of Excellence Site Plan (created by HTFC Planning & Design, September 2014, PDF format)
Listen to an Interview from CKLQ 880 radio (Brandon) about the project (MP4 format)
Articles from Newspapers about the Project
- Eco sanctuary takes root with tree planting blitz (by Graeme Bruce, Brandon Sun, May 6, 2015, PDF format)
- Wetland Classroom Forging Towards Reality for Rivers (by Joan Airey, Agri Post, May 29, 2015, PDF format)
Photo Gallery of Images from the Project site
Riverdale Community Daycare Inc.
More information to come…