Creating transformative experiences for students on the Salish Sea

The Salish Sea Emerging Stewards program is a place to grow.

Students aboard Achiever, cluster around the bow on the Salish Sea.

Passengers of all ages aboard Achiever have experienced awe, belonging, and even transcendence while communing with nature. People are transported beyond their everyday life and often report having a sense of deep harmony with something bigger.

These experiences are transformative and what we strive to create for young people with the Salish Sea Emerging Stewards program.

The program brings students on multi-day journeys aboard Achiever to learn about coastal environments and conservation challenges. We recently wrapped up our third season of the program. Some of the highlights from this season include foraging for a rich diversity of mushrooms, embracing nature through solo-silent sit spots in the forest, Dall’s porpoises ‘riding’ the bow, viewing humpback whale breaches, and witnessing the bright magical bioluminescence on a night-time zodiac ride.

These experiences have strong, positive effects and help shape our perspective on the environment. Through immersive and experiential learning in nature, students become more connected to where they live and deepen their understanding of their role in the bigger picture.

This year, the program engaged 40 students from the Cowichan School District on Vancouver Island and Red Fox Healthy Living Society in Vancouver. For many of the youth, this program provided many firsts including being on a sailing vessel, visiting some of the Southern Gulf Islands and encounters with some of the iconic local marine wildlife including killer whales. As we wrapped up each session, students expressed how much they learned, and how the experience opened up their world to what lies in their backyards. Many asked what else they can do to help.

Students from the Salish Sea Emerging Stewards program race into the ocean from the beach.

Our final phase of the three-part Salish Sea program will help youth develop their leadership skills and share their learning with the community through a student seminar event. The event will bring together program participants and a network of people working in science, conservation and outdoors for an evening of learning and celebrating our priceless coast.

You can join us and support the Salish Sea Emerging Stewards program.

Support the program

As we gear up for next season, we are excited to be expanding and evolving the program to include more community partnerships, expanded cultural learning, and the development of youth leadership skills, including the potential of a Junior Leader position for alumni students. We are also working on expanding the scope of our program to maximize the experience for youth.

We are still currently working on achieving our funding goal for the 2019 season. If you are interested in supporting the program, please contact me.

Maureen Vo Maureen Vo stands on the bow of a small sailing vessel in the coastal waters of British Columbia.

Maureen Vo is a Raincoast Education and Development Coordinator. She joined the Raincoast team in 2016 to help pilot the Salish Sea Emerging Stewards program. Maureen holds an interdisciplinary Master’s in marine biology and computer engineering. You can find her rock climbing, snowboarding, and sailing.

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