For me, learning is always better when I am surrounded by other enthusiastic people, and when I am being taught by people who love what they do. For the past 11 days I was on a massive field trip with my class, and it embodied this learning style.
I am in a class called “Historical Ecology of Coastal BC”. This class is largely field based and focused around a trip that began in Victoria. There we met with editors from Hakai Magazine who took time out of their busy days to tell us about what they did, and talk about science communication. We then spent some time talking about Gary Oak ecosystems, and the various issues surrounding them and their history.
From there we went on the Coho ferry to Port Angelese, and on our way West to Salt Creek Campground. We spent the next day and half poking around the intertidal, visiting the Elwah Dam site, and seeing the Makah Museum. The museum was filled with artffacts such as a fishing net that had been used in pre-colonial times. This fishing net was instrumental to First Nations of the area regaining traditional fishing rights from the government.
Once we were done there we made our way back up the coast with a stop in Rathtrevour Park, and headed to Bamfield (but not without a stop to buy a frisbee first). We camped on the beach at Pachena Bay Campground, and visited the Bamfield Historical Society, where Heather was lovely enough to show us around. The Bamfiled Motel was kind enough to let us stay the night so that we didn’t have to camp in the rain and hail, and they even opened the pub for us.
The next day we met Captain Russ on the docks and climbed aboard the Passing Cloud for the next part of our adventure.
Having class on a 70 foot long sailboat, getting food made for us by the talented Carmen, being taught about knots and sailing from the mate Joel, and hearing the complex local history from Russ, made for an invaluable experience. We saw fish traps, village sites, middens, and so much more. The ecology of the area and the ups and downs of various species was interesting to track. Human impacts are clear, both historical and current.
The trip was inspiring, and brought up many thoughts about the way that humans interact with our environment and how we make management decisions. For now though, we are back in the classroom to make sense of what we saw, and to power though multiple projects over the next week.