Nearly 800 students and teachers from 50+ schools participated in June “BioBlitz”
VANCOUVER | TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORIES OF THE xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (SQUAMISH) AND səlilwətaɬ (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) FIRST NATIONS (June 18, 2021) — The David Suzuki Foundation is celebrating National Pollinator Week 2021 by acknowledging the 774 students from 10 B.C. communities who participated in the Foundation’s Butterflyway Citizen Science School BioBlitz from May 30 to June 4.
Representing 52 schools across B.C., the students from Thetis Island, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Langley, Richmond, Vancouver, North Vancouver, Maple Ridge, Comox, Surrey and Burnaby used iPads and notepads to photograph and record key information about local wild pollinator populations. With guidance from their teachers, the students organized the data, made butterfly- and bee-themed artwork, dressed up as pollinators and joined a BioBlitz wrap-up party on Friday, June 4.
Simone Luckham of Thetis Island Elementary School was one of the first teachers to enrol her students in the project.
“The students had a great time planting pollinator-friendly plants after watching the Zoom session with the other schools,” she said. “We made name tags for each plant, including the common, Latin and for some the Hul’qumi’num names. It was a truly special, educational and inspiring experience.”
Terran Dosen teaches at Ranch Park Elementary in Coquitlam. Students there found 39 butterflies, 52 bees, 64 birds and 211 beetles.
“We also found some ants,” Dosen said. “It was a great opportunity for the students to see how important pollinators are to plants and humans, and why we should protect them! My students have already been inspired to start creating new pollinator habitats in their own backyards to attract and protect these important species.”
Cove Cliff Elementary teacher Diane Ehling had six classes observe (involving about 120 students). They saw 293 butterflies, 1,347 beetles, 343 birds and 385 bees.
The Butterflyway BioBlitz took place the week after the discovery of an unmarked burial site containing 215 students of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. To honour and remember the young Indigenous children who died attending the school, Mitchell Elementary in Richmond pinned 215 orange ribbons on their native plant holders.
The David Suzuki Foundation’s B.C. Butterflyway Citizen Science work is guided by a small group of dedicated Butterflyway Rangers, UBC students and scientists. Tara Moreau, associate director of UBC’s Botanical Garden, is a member of the committee. She believes engaging young students in biodiversity early in their lives will help them become responsible climate citizens when they grow up.
“The climate is changing faster than we are,” Moreau said. “Citizen science is an increasingly important tool to support climate action and biodiversity protection.”
“As a senior biology student, it’s inspiring to see young students take on the challenge of observing and documenting butterflies,” said Alex Wong, a fourth-year UBC science student who helped set up the Butterflyway BioBlitz toolkit. “Not only were they successful in finding pollinators, they were also inspired to continue their work using their newly acquired skills. This project gives a fantastic opportunity for teachers to implement experiential learning in their classrooms, which is an integral step for these young, future scientists.”
“It’s important that we leverage the students’ curiosity and creativity through events like the Butterflyway BioBlitz, because it helps guide their innovative minds toward helping build a greener future,” said Michelle Chan, interactive designer and Butterflyway Citizen Science committee member. “We’re hoping this event leaves a lasting impression on the students and encourages them to explore all possibilities within the realm of citizen science.”
“This is a special year for this citizen science initiative, because not only are our Butterflyway Rangers working harder than ever, they are also collaborating with students and real scientists like Tara Moreau and Prof. Michelle Tseng from UBC’s zoology department,” said Winnie Hwo, the David Suzuki Foundation’s B.C. lead for the National Butterflyway Project. “So often in life, we protect what we love. And to love something, you need to learn about and begin to understand it first. I hope these students grow up loving nature and working hard to protect it.”
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Click here to access a photo album from the Butterflyway Citizen Science School BioBlitz.
For more information or media interviews, please contact:
Winnie Hwo, firstname.lastname@example.org, 778-866-6371