This program involves students from around the Nechako watershed going into their communities and painting bright yellow sturgeon and salmon next to storm drains. The message... don't pour chemicals and waste into storm drains because they lead to fish habitat. This kind of program has been successful in other areas, primarily for salmon, however we wanted to add sturgeon to the mix as this endangered animal lives within the waters of the Nechako watershed and all our communities have drains and ditches that run into these waters.
The City of Prince George has resources and great videos about keeping pollutants out of storm drains and some great videos on their website. These are easy videos to follow, and great to show students.
This project has been supported and funded from several sources. The Public Works crews from the District of Vanderhoof, Village of Fraser Lake, and Fort St. James District provided maps of their storm drain infrastructure, as well as safety cones for warning drivers that people were working on the road. The School District 91 Trades and Careers Program provided the cart and safety vests and toques. Rio Tinto provided funding to buy supplies such as the paint, gloves, and signage. And the Federal Government’s Habitat Stewardship Program provided the overall funding for planning and delivery of this program in the Nechako watershed.
Students are very aware about the endangered Nechako white sturgeon, as many have learned about them in their classrooms from teachers using the Nechako White Sturgeon School Curriculum; they have toured the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre; or the students have been involved in releasing a juvenile sturgeon into the Nechako River during the sturgeon release event that happens each May.
NOTE to EDUCATORS: Any teachers who are interested in taking their class out for an afternoon to paint or re-paint storm drains can contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get the supplies to you.
On October 11, 2017 two teams of five students from Mrs. Stephanie Carpenter’s Grade 5-6 class at Evelyn Dickson Elementary School in Vanderhoof carted their supplies around Vanderhoof painting sturgeon and salmon images at storm drains. During the day, students discussed why this is an important project to help in the recovery of the endangered Nechako white sturgeon. The overall message the students came up with was that storm drains lead to the Nechako River, and if you put chemicals in storm drains you hurt sturgeon and fish habitat.
Students each had an important role for this project: the blower/broomer, the ‘stenciller’, the painters, and the sign person. Mrs. Carpenter made sure students were safe, but all the students were well aware of keeping safe, as they were working on some busy roads. Several students remarked how they felt like they were doing a real job in the community, especially when they got paint on their faces. “I am really working now” said one student with a big smile and one small dot of paint on her face.
The program headed to other communities in June 2018, with students from David Hoy School (Fort St. James) and Mouse Mountain School (Fraser Lake). Students took to the streets in their communities and painted as many storm drains as they could find in a short 2 hours. The work was sometimes gruelling in the hot sun, but the students kept going as they knew that every storm drain painted is one more that will help sturgeon.