Back to school already? This time of year always seems to sneak up on us, but this fall we’re more excited than ever for school to start!

After the success of last year’s pilot project, offered in partnership with teachers and marine experts from the Greater Victoria School District and the Royal BC Museum (RBCM), we’ll be doubling our education outreach program for 2019-20.

Marine biologist Sydney talks about whales in the classroom.

Aimed at Grades 4-8, this program offers participating classes a three-part interactive module to learn about the oceans.

  • First, one of our marine biologists visits the classroom to talk to the students about the culture and natural history of the Salish Sea and the amazing animals and plants within it.
  • Next, the students join us on our semi-covered catamaran for a wildlife tour. They experience being out on the Salish Sea, visiting places like Race Rocks Ecological Reserve or Discovery/Chatham Islands, learning about kelp forests and temperate rainforests, and exploring their beautiful backyard from various perspectives.
  • For the third portion, students have an interactive session of their choice with one of our marine biologists. Some have participated in beach cleanups, salmon migration obstacle courses, exploring tidepools, connecting important waterways to the Salish Sea, and more.
  • Finally, the students gather all the information they learned and turn it into an artifact displayed at the RBCM. Here, they teach one another and the public about the Salish Sea and the importance of conserving it for future generations.

Marine biologist Sydney introduces students to the wonders of bull kelp.

“We’re thrilled that our students are getting the chance to truly explore the Salish Sea and experience the diversity of living things that call it home,” says Aaron Maxwell, vice-principal of Arbutus Global Middle School.

“The opportunity to connect with local experts, to physically get out on the water and to witness the diversity of this area for themselves, will help the students build a connection with this incredible place.”

Artifact created by students and displayed at the Royal BC Museum.

Sydney McCabe, senior biologist with Eagle Wing Tours, recalls some of the best moments from last year’s program.

“I met so many amazing and inspiring students. We saw kids facing fears of boats and feeling so accomplished after their tour; kids working on their artifacts after school and during their breaks because they were so excited about the project, and coming out of their shells through art; kids who had never been on a beach, let alone a boat; kids tasting kelp and blowing the “kelp horn” (always a favourite!).

“At the museum, we saw students from our program teaching other kids about their experience and being so proud of what they learned. This program allows us to help change people’s perspective of their big blue backyard and connect them to a world that really only existed in their imaginations until they experienced it first-hand. This program fills my heart with so much joy!”

For many students it’s the first time they’ve been on the ocean.

Last year, we were able to offer this program, in partnership with SD61, to 600 children in over 30 classes. We did 16 different tours over the course of the winter and saw so many exciting things! This year, we’ll make this program available to 60 classes in Greater Victoria!

“An education program such as this has been a long-time dream of our company,” says Eagle Wing Tours co-owner and captain Brett Soberg. “It’s finally happening, thanks to visionary partners equally committed to a common end goal—to foster and inspire the next generation of Salish Sea stewards.”

At Eagle Wing Tours, we believe in the power of education, and we’re thrilled to be able to inform and inspire the next generation of ocean stewards.