Grade 5 and 6 students at Queen Elizabeth School were hard at work Thursday afternoon as they built an outdoor classroom. The students were assisted by volunteers from local energy companies as they created the outdoor learning space.
The group planted trees and shrubs, turned six old tractor tires into planters for perennials and annuals, and installed log bench seating capable of holding 30 students.
“It’s just awesome,” said Brenda Croft, principal of Queen Elizabeth School.
“The space is not just for the school either, it is also a community project, benefitting all those who use the space,” said Croft.
The day’s events were all part of the Energy in Action campaign put on by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and Inside Education.
The campaign is aimed at teaching students about Canada’s oil and gas resources, responsible development of local resources, renewable energy, and the importance of environmental stewardship.
During the morning of the day-long program students learned about different aspects of the energy industry through an interactive presentation.
“It’s important that they understand the resources they use so they can make the connection between the resources and where the energy comes from,” said Rachel Hofman, natural resource educator with Inside Education.
The morning education session also stressed the importance of environmental stewardship.
“They get a knowledge of stewardship in the morning and in the afternoon they get to put it into practice,” said Hofman.
It’s during the afternoon that students put their environmental stewardship knowledge into practice by building the outdoor classroom, located on the west side of the school.
The theme of environmental stewardship will be passed on to future Grade 5 and 6 classes as well. Future classes will maintain the outdoor classroom, attending to the plants and keeping the grounds in good condition.
The Energy in Action campaign has educated nearly 8,000 students on the energy industry since 2004, with a focus on rural schools.
“It’s important for the industry to give back because we’re living and working in these communities,” said Kim Gray, communications advisor for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
“This is a great way to give back to those communities and a great way to put a face to the industry,” said Gray.
The program comes at no cost to the school with CAPP donating $5,000 for the project. The group also coordinates the day’s events and sources the materials to be used.
Beyond educating students and building an outdoor classroom, the program also contributes to the school’s library with a donation of books regarding the environment and natural resources.
The Energy in Action program will visit eight other elementary schools across western Canada during the month of May.