The Wings Over Wascana Festival began in 2005. The purpose was to engage the public in nature based activities in an urban prairie marsh environment. All activities currently take place in the naturalized area though in the past we had tents set up on the north side of Wascana Hill. From the beginning, teaching young people about nature was a top priority. The Friday, before the festival, is set aside for eight classes in grades 4 to 6 to participate in a fun, nature filled adventure. The classes come from the school divisions in and around Regina. The school day is organized in a walking loop with 7-8 stations where facilitators lead informative, interactive sessions. Over the years the stations have included: pond dipping with Ducks Unlimited, Canada; owl pellet dissection; earth ball featuring a huge ball with lessons on protecting the earth; a plant station where children plant native grasses and forbs; a goat station with live goats who eat weedy shrubs; bird banding, a nature walk; nature photography, Nature CSI where a crime scene is solved by the children; and Pour a pond/nature songs which combines music with a respect for nature.
The children attend for the entire school day, arriving by buses and bringing a bagged lunch. The day goes ahead rain, sun or snow. Washroom facilities are organized as well as a St. John’s ambulance volunteer. The first eight years of the festival the school day took place in early May, but now has moved to the end of May when more plants are actively growing and less snow is anticipated. The feedback received has always been very positive from students, teachers and volunteer staff. In 2014 we had an unprecedented increase in interest from teachers! Twenty-four classes applied but only eight can attend. In future, we may consider a second day if more volunteer help can be found. Many groups help to make School day a success. Ducks Unlimited, Canada has been a participant from the beginning. FOWM has collaborated with the Saskatchewan Outdoor and Environmental Education Association (SOEEA). And our sponsors have been key in providing funding for which we are very grateful. Without them the festival could not go ahead. Together we all share a common goal: to pass on a love of nature to children with hands on learning and fun activities.