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FortWhyte Alive

Freshwater Ecology Day

Freshwater Ecology Day at FortWhyte Alive welcomed students for a day of hands-on learning experiences facilitated by freshwater scientists and experts.

Through this program, 78 students and their teachers from 8 different urban and rural Manitoba schools took part in water sampling, water chemistry testing, shoreline restoration with willows, aquatic invertebrate sampling, as well as learned about research on freshwater oil spills, fish research, and Manitoba’s “Great Lakes” – Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba and Winnipegosis.

Here are some highlights of what students did:

  • Cleaned up a pretend “oil spill” and discovered how water contamination is a big issue.
  • Got muddy using a water jet planter to plant willow branches in a section of shoreline. Willow stems will sprout roots in spring and help to hold the soil together.
  • Collected aquatic insects and other invertebrates and examined them under microscopes. 
  • Discovered how technology helps scientists to learn more about the health of the water.

Overall, students were left inspired to continue to learn more about the state of our freshwater ecosystems, from watersheds and aquatic life to how our actions on the land can affect the water around us.

Some thoughts from the students:

“Even the smallest lake flea has an impact on the environment in freshwater lakes and marshes.”


“I learned that it’s possible to plant willow branches and sprout new plants.”


“Experimental Lakes Area is a designated number of lakes to test different pollution on water ecosystems and to see the reactions within.”

As one teacher put it:

“My students really enjoyed the hands-on opportunities. The last station we were at asked them to explain the things they learned throughout the day. This really helped them realize the vast knowledge they learned in one day!”

Thank you to the presenters for inspiring students and getting them excited about science careers! 

Sarah Warrack and Catherine Van Reenen – IISD – Experimental Lakes Area   

Claire Herbert and University of Manitoba students – Lake Winnipeg Basin Information Network

Kent Lewarne – South Central Eco Institute Riverwatch

Chris Randall – Seine Rat River Conservation District

Breanne Reinfort – FortWhyte Alive


For other high school programs related to environmental science at FortWhyte Alive, check out our Riverwatch program, high school science days or other school programs or contact email hidden; JavaScript is required to be added to our high school mailing list.

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