Grade 5 classes recently made their annual trek to the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area to learn more about becoming Stewards of the Land. Students developed a strong awareness that the Cross Conservation Area represents a significant attempt to take action to make our world better, and that the Cross family are true Stewards of the Land. Ann and Sandy Cross donated 4,800 acres of land to conservation, ensuring that important grassland and wetland habitats would be protected for years to come. Students also considered the words of Aldo Leopold, an American conservationist, who encouraged us to see the land as a community to which we all belong; in that manner, we will use the land with love and respect.
Mother Nature blessed us with fantastic weather for this year’s trip - we enjoyed three wonderful days of warm temperatures and sunshine. For this trip, students spent one day at Goodwin Pond collecting, examining and drawing invertebrates. They found many pouch snails, water striders, predaceous diving beetles, and the occasional water boatman. They worked to identify the adaptations that these organisms have for life in an aquatic ecosystem. Along with much evidence of animal activity in the area, students were also treated to the sight of a deer family! Students also spent a day at Pine Creek. They used specific criteria to determine the health of the creek’s riparian area, making careful scientific observations of plant life in the area.
On day 3, students examined a second pond in an area closer to Belvedere House and the hiking trails, noticing the impact of abiotic factors such as the lack of rain and lots of heat on the wetland ecosystem. After heading up to Sandy’s Lookout, where Sandy Cross once saw the City of Calgary creeping closer to his ranch, students engaged in an inquiry of different stakeholders in southern Alberta. Students needed to reconcile the wants and needs of ranchers, oil and gas companies, agriculture, and conservation. They discovered that there is no one correct answer, and that only by working together can we meet the needs of the environment and the humans who depend upon it for food, jobs and recreation.
This trip to the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area was a great way for students to learn in the field, and helped them see how action can have a significant impact on our world.