Wapusk National Park: A classroom for the world
© Jessica C. Levine
Wapusk News - Issue 8, 2015
When it comes to learning, nothing beats hands-on activity. Being immersed in the environment you are studying, particularly a unique and challenging environment like Wapusk National Park (NP), can lead to a richer, more memorable experience. In this context, Wapusk is much more than a national park – it is a classroom.
Students from the high school and university levels come to the park every year to learn. High school students conduct and assist with research activities through programs such as the Wapusk NP Leadership Camp, the International Student-led Arctic Monitoring and Research (ISAMR) camp, and the Junior Canadian Rangers. Graduate students working on their Master’s and Doctoral degrees conduct world-class research in the park for their theses.
From field courses such as a new (in 2014) course examining arctic fox food webs, offered jointly by Dr. Jim Roth (University of Manitoba) and Parks Canada, to facilitated projects at both the Nester One and Nestor 2 research camps, there are many opportunities for active learning in Wapusk NP.
Not only does this learning benefit the students, it also benefits Parks Canada. Our mandate is to protect and present national treasures like Wapusk NP. When people share what they have learned about the park, our staff are better able to communicate why it is so important to protect this special place for future generations.
Students also assist Parks Canada in building awareness and understanding of the park throughout Canada, and beyond. Students who have had the chance to spend time in Wapusk NP often become ambassadors for the park in their communities. For people who aren’t able to visit, Parks Canada brings the park to them through the Parks Canada website (www.pc.gc.ca) and through outreach programs elsewhere in Canada, such as at the Journey to Churchill exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg.
This issue of Wapusk News features stories and student reflections highlighting the various types of learning that takes place in this outdoor classroom. Please enjoy these stories of learning in Wapusk NP - you just might learn something yourself!