The objective of NEWSS creates tremendous opportunity to expand our role in facilitation of educational opportunities for regional schools, Universities and the ranching/farming community. We have developed strong working relationships with School District 91 and the University of Northern BC and Northern Health that are already providing education opportunities on the Murray Creek Rehabilitation Project.
Currently we have had over 500 studentÕs tour the Murray Creek Rehabilitation Project from the area elementary and high schools. This includes students from Vanderhoof, Burns Lake, Fraser Lake and Fort St James. It is important to recognize that prior to the Murray Creek Rehabilitation Project no students had ever been involved in a stream restoration project or received instruction on the assets and values of a water management strategy like Murray Creek. Included in these opportunities have been students from Project Agriculture touring the site. Project Agriculture is a 20 year old program that educates students from the region on agricultural opportunities as a future career. SD 91 has also had two high school students take on Murray Creek as an independent study for course credits.
We are currently meeting with SD 91 and the principals of the various schools in Vanderhoof to discuss curriculum opportunities for the upcoming years with our project. SD 91 is committed to working towards inclusion of NEWSSÕs proposal and is excited what this proposal means for students within the region.
Our strong ties with the University of Northern BC (UNBC) has resulted in partnerships with research professionals and has garnered funding for projects like Dr. Margot Parkes ÒKnowledge to ActionÓ (KTA) grant that is studying the relationships of healthy ecosystems to community health. In this case Dr. Parkes brings the Northern Regional Drinking Water Team, a collaborative group including Northern Health, Fraser Basin Council, Ministry of Environment, and UNBC together to address the ecosystem linkages to health.
We have also had conversations with UBC and Simon Fraser University on our project and feel that should we be successful in obtaining funding, these partnerships will then include the three principle Universities in what one Professor called a Òworld class proposalÓ that would bring research teams to look at the watershed, climate change and the agricultural land practices for the betterment of the region.
Dr. Parkes is currently scheduling a national water symposium in Vanderhoof as a result of our collaboration on Murray Creek. The importance of the presence of UNBC in our community cannot be over-emphasized. Dr. Parkes brings forward local politicians, medical authorities, First Nations and area leadership in examining the opportunities for water stewardship in the Nechako Valley that was built in BC and creates opportunities for solutions that recognize provincial legislation requirements.
We would further like to explore opportunities for bursaries and grants to deserving high school students moving forward on studies at the University.
With the advent of the sturgeon recovery center around the corner, we feel that there are tremendous opportunities for the NEWSS team to partner with the NW sturgeon recovery center and share in the educational opportunities of this facility and the parallel work with the educational opportunities that our watershed initiative will provide. This could include not only core opportunities but involving the students in fine arts that document the history of these projects including educational documentation of the various components that will be moved forward under this program. We would like to participate in conversations that explored opportunities for the students of SD 91 including sharing of staff, facilities and objectives.
There is very little water stewardship educational material available to the farming and ranching community here in BC. Most publications are imported from other Provinces and the northwest United States. Our organization recognizes this as an opportunity to provide field material build in BC that creates opportunities for solutions, recognizing provincial legislative requirements. Our experiences to date strongly indicate a support for NEWSS leadership on the issues of water stewardship and by providing local material we feel that we can accelerate partnerships within the region.