Field Season – the most WONDERful time of the year!
Springtime at Inside Education is a magical one – it’s when we get to dust off the winter cobwebs and get out to the beautiful nature sites that serve as the outdoor classrooms for our exciting and incredibly interactive no-cost Field Programs.
Inside Education field studies operate during May, June, September and October. These full- or half-day programs are available for grades 4-12 at various field sites across the province. Our team of professional educators will lead students through an experiential, curriculum-connected field trip. You can click here for more information and to apply – we still have space available this spring at our Des Crossley and Evergreen sites.
And in preparation for these activities, our newest educator Emily has put together her tips and tricks for having a successful and safe spring field season, either with Inside Education or on your own. Enjoy the coming months folks!
Introduction to Field Season
The snow has started to melt and it’s almost time to switch out your snow boots for your hiking boots. These are my tips to prepare for the upcoming field season.
- Study up – Looking over field guides can remind you of the plants and animals you know or teach you about new ones you may encounter. Field guides are available at most new and used bookstores or you can borrow them at most public libraries. A couple of my favourite field guides for Alberta are: Guide to the Common Native Trees and Shrubs of Alberta, Lone Pine The Birds of Alberta, by John Acorn and Chris Fisher, and Lone Pine Mammals of Alberta by Don Pattie and Chris Fisher.
- Study in Pairs – Try joining a local group of naturalists or volunteering. Attending study groups, lectures or going on guided walks are all great ways to make new friends and learn about nature. Joining or volunteering for events can help you discover places you wouldn’t normally visit, it’s amazing how many beautiful areas we have in our cities and across our province. Nature Alberta updates a calendar with natural history events happening all over the province.
- Watch out for Wildlife – Animals are very active in the spring and summer, foraging for food, looking for mates or rearing offspring. In all wildlife encounters it’s important to respect wildlife by giving them plenty of space. This is especially important in spring when many animals have babies. If you find baby animals without any parents nearby don’t fret! Mothers often hide baby animals during the day and return in the evening to care for the babies – they use this method to draw predators away from their babies. If you have found a baby animal that is truly injured, hidden in an unsafe location like a parking lot, or you have evidence it has been orphaned, the Edmonton Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre has more information on what to do.
- Watch the Weather – Stay alert of the current weather conditions. Even though winter may be winding down, spring and summer can still bring about stormy weather. Before you head out make sure you are very prepared for any conditions you may encounter. It’s also important to think about how weather may impact your environment, a gusty day may be no problem in the prairie but surrounded by swaying trees in the boreal forest might be a different story.
- Prepare your Gear – Before you make your first trek outside it’s important to make sure all your gear is in good working order. Check your boots and coats for leaks, try cleaning your outdoor clothing and applying waterproof coating to outerwear. Before your first big hike make sure your shoes are broken in by wearing them around the house. If you don’t have any time to break in your shoes, wearing two pairs of socks can reduce your chance of blisters – and if not, I always bring some band-aids or moleskin on the trail.
- Pack a Bag – It’s always a good idea to be prepared when heading outside. In addition to band-aids and moleskin, if I am heading out for a day on the trails I always bring a full water bottle, sunscreen, bugspray, hat, first aid kit, extra sweater and raincoat. Depending on where you are going and how long you may be gone for, it may be important to be prepared to stay overnight. It’s always a good idea to let someone know where you are going and when you will be back. I also try and bring a cellphone in case of an emergency. For longer trips you may consider bringing a spot receiver, or satellite phone and GPS.
7. Bring some Snacks – I love food, and usually don’t leave home without a snack or two. My favourite field snacks are homemade granola bars, they are really simple to make and can easily be made nut-free, gluten free, raw or vegan. If I’m going on a group hike it’s also fun to make group trail mix. Before the hike instruct everyone to pick out one ingredient from the bulk barn, at the start of the day mix everything together and divide it up, you get the most interesting combination of goodies this way. Check out this tasty recipe for a great snack on-the-go!