"Snake!" yelled 8-year-old Carys, and dove for the grassy bank beside the trail. She emerged clutching a deeply puzzled garter snake at least 60 centimetres long, with elegant checkerboard markings on its sides and a jagged yellow stripe running the length of its back.
|Western garter snake, found at Pipers Lagoon Park, Nanaimo.|
|Professor Tim Goater with |
a large clam at Pipers Lagoon.
The mixed group of kids and adults wasn't just a casual group of visitors to the seashore. We were students in a class called Explorations of Animal Diversity, one of 10 offerings at this year's edition of Grandkids University. The two-day program is open to kids aged 7 to 13 and to their grandparents or grandparent-equivalents (other senior relatives or special friends).
|Carys, left, entranced by birdbanding.|
Over two days, Carys and I got to see and handle garter snakes both in the lab and in the field, peer at insects through a dissecting microscope, search for animals in the intertidal zone, visit a bird-banding station, dissect a ratfish in search of parasites, and tour VIU's International Centre for Sturgeon Studies.
|Master bander Eric Demers shows the wing feathers|
of a Common Yellowthroat.
|A female American Goldfinch receives its individualized band.|
|Carys found a seastar that had lost one arm|
and was still regrowing its replacement.
And everyone is reminded that learning isn't drudgery. It's fun.
All photos by Claire Eamer.