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MOSSOM CREEK: Teaching the next enviro ed. leaders

Rod MacVicar and Ruth Foster were teachers at Centennial secondary school when they started a salmon club in the 1970s. The club was instrumental in establishment of the Mossom Creek Hatchery and while both are now retired, they’re still involved as volunteers. - GARY MCKENNA/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Rod MacVicar and Ruth Foster were teachers at Centennial secondary school when they started a salmon club in the 1970s. The club was instrumental in establishment of the Mossom Creek Hatchery and while both are now retired, they’re still involved as volunteers.
— image credit: GARY MCKENNA/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

Ruth Foster and Rod MacVicar are natural teachers.

On a visit to Mossom Creek, the waterway they have been instrumental in resuscitating over the last 38 years, they can’t stop themselves from picking up fish bones and naming off the birds and plant species that inhabit the area.

The pair taught biology at Centennial secondary for decades and love teaching so much that they could not give it up after retiring in the early 2000s.

But instead of working with young people, these days Foster and MacVicar spend their spare time teaching student teachers.

“It can be really powerful in its impact,”  Foster says. “If you can encourage one teacher to use environmental ed. to get across ideas in a subject, you have possibly made an impact on a lot of people.”

Many of the student-teachers they work with at the Reed Point Marina Education Centre and through the SFU Faculty of Education are from overseas and here mainly to improve their English. But any subject can be taught using environmental education, Foster says, from writing assignments about a sensitive ecosystem to mathematical word problems that calculate the number of fish in a stream.

“We talk a lot about incorporating environmental concepts into the classroom,” she said. “You can take just about any subject and use environmental education as a medium to get your information across.”

Foster and MacVicar have heard from people they have worked with who have had great success taking what they learned in Canada back to their own classrooms

By inspiring a new generation of teachers, the two hope to enhance the educational experience for young people while fostering a healthy respect for the environment.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

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