Hands-on Science Education

Water First education programs engage Indigenous youth with hands-on water science workshops. We also get youth out on the land, completing environmental restoration projects of local significance and reinforcing the concepts taught in workshops.

In the classroom, using interactive watershed models, microscopes, water science lab equipment and inquiry-driven activities, students learn about hydrology and watershed ecology. Out on traditional lands, students plant seedlings and complete stream-side restoration action to improve the overall health of their community’s watershed.

During the infield activities, students are accompanied by Elders who share the cultural and historical significance of the land, and the importance of maintaining the health of the community’s watersheds and fish habitats. Supporting linkages between today’s youth and traditional land-use practices of the past.

Roots Are The Claws That Hold The Earth in Place

Waterside tree planting is important both to the local waterways and the people who live adjacent to them. Tree roots hold onto soil, preventing unnatural amounts of sand and dirt from entering the water systems, which can have a negative impact downstream and damage aquatic ecosystems. Trees provide organic material and habitats for animals, and their shade acts as a temperature monitor for aquatic wildlife.

Trees and other natural vegetation create a buffer between land use and natural habitats. They also benefit us by reducing the impact of flooding, a trend which is becoming more commonplace due to the pressures of climate change.

Riparian buffer zonesImage: A cross-section of a stream and the adjacent riparian area. The sketch shows four zones and the vegetation associated with each. Moving from the water to the upland, the first zone is the aquatic zone and is populated with aquatic plants such as sedges and reeds. The next zone, Zone 1, is an undisturbed forest. Zone 2 is a managed forest of shrubs and trees and Zone 3 is a mix of grasses that help control runoff from neighbouring fields.

(Image courtesy Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)


Latest News

Quinte Mohawk students become water stewards

June 17th, 2019

This past May, students from Quinte Mohawk School became stewards of the water. Students from multiple grades learned how to analyze the water quality of their school’s onsite wetland with Water First staff. They also learned about the impact of human activity on the health of the water and the … Read More

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Working with students from G Theberge School in Témiscaming, Québec

March 25th, 2019

Last week from March 19th-21st, Water First staff and our interns from Kebaowek First Nation visited G Theberge School in Témiscaming, Québec, to share the details from our recently completed fish habitat remediation project with students. Children and youth from Kebaowek First Nation are bused to this school, so it … Read More

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Water Tree at Matachewan First Nation

February 8th, 2019

This past October, Water First collaborated with Matachewan First Nation to deliver a series of educational workshops at the local school and a tree-planting field trip in the community.

Students in the Indigenous program at Kirkland Lake District Composite school joined those from the First Nation to plant pine and … Read More

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Taking Our Educational Resources to The Next Level

In the next year, Water First will be meeting with community partners, educators and Elders to gather guidance and expand our program. Our focus is on maximizing First Nations youth involvement in the projects — from the planning stages all the way to implementing sustainable action. As well as developing more and different restoration opportunities that can better meet local environmental concerns.

Continually adapting our programs is a Water First strength. Our approach and the flexibility in our educational programming allows Water First to deliver meaningful hands-on water science education and restoration action that is of significance to youth and their communities.

  • Water First…and always! We believe healthy water creates healthy communities and engaging youth to be agents of change and future community water leaders, is worth every drop!

    Reggie Tikka,

    LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics

Watch for more updates throughout the year as we develop and pilot this new program!

The Communities

Click on an icon to learn a bit about youth education activities in that community.

Water Science Workshop map icon
Water Science Workshop
Students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 in First Nation schools are engaged with fun, hands-on, curriculum based water science lessons. Activities include water sampling, capturing live specimens for viewing under a microscope, and drone flights above watersheds.
Water Tree map icon
Water Tree Project
Water science workshops with an additional watershed restoration component such as tree planting.

The Staff

  • Dillon Koopmans, B. Ed., OCT

    Educational Programs Manager

  • Dillon holds Bachelor degrees in Geography and Education and has significant teaching experience in the junior, intermediate and senior divisions. He is also engaged as a teacher facilitator in several youth leadership courses, including Indigenous Leadership Gatherings, at the Ontario Educational Leadership Centre. Dillon is of Potawatomi descent with ancestral … Read More

  • Adrianna Bilinski, B. Ed., B.A.

    Outreach Instructor

  • Adrianna is an Ontario Certified Teacher, and a woman of Ojibwe decent front Beausoleil First Nation. She holds her Bachelors degrees in History, Gender Studies, and Education. As an educator — both outside and within Water First — her primary focus is to raise awareness of the historical and current … Read More

  • Olga Kalomiris, Hon.B.A., B.Ed.

    Outreach Instructor

  • Olga is an Ontario-certified teacher in the junior, intermediate and senior divisions, specializing in Geography, the Social Sciences, and Health and Physical Education. As an Outreach Instructor with Water First, Olga is committed to engaging and empowering youth, while raising awareness about First Nations water challenges.… Read More

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