Interest in the Discovery Nature Sanctuary (DNS) in Winkler continues to grow.

Paul Goossen is chair of the DNS committee, which is responsible for developing the site. Goossen said it's such a pleasure to see the area serving a purpose.

One of the things they've tried to emphasize over the years is the importance of using the sanctuary as an outdoor living classroom for schools. Goossen says he's been very happy to see that schools are using this site as part of their education. 

"The neat thing is that it augments the work that the kids do in the classrooms, and they're actually able to come out and see things in real-time and real life, rather than just reading it in a book or having someone tell them about some of the concepts of nature. So we're very, very happy."

Goossen said they've hosted two water festivals at the site, which he says is very significant because schools are able to come out and learn about the importance of water, and how it relates not only to wildlife and plants but people as well. He said it's very useful to expand on that topic and have kids understand the importance of the environment.

"I think that's very useful to expand on that topic and to have kids understand the importance of the environment because as you're aware, there's more and more pressures put on to the land. And as populations of people grow and demand increases, there's more pressure on habitat. And, so I think being able to learn some of these basic concepts when you're quite young will bode well for the future because some of these students are going to be leaders in the community."

Whether on City Council, or whether they're going to be instructing in schools or in some other capacity, having this background and information will be beneficial as they (the students) make decisions for future generations. 

Goossen says they've had at least a couple of school divisions use the site, primarily Garden Valley School Division. This year they had over 450 student visits to DNS, with 7 different schools using the site.

Right now at the Discovery Nature Sanctuary, the toads and frogs one would usually find, have hidden away for the season and a lot of birds have flown south, leaving some winter birds to traverse through. Goossen says you may see the odd jackrabbit as well.

"Winter time is actually a really good time to go out and look for animal tracks," said Goossen. "You know, take the family out, try to figure out what the animals are doing, who the tracks belong to, that kind of thing...there is stuff to do in the winter, but it certainly is a lot quieter." 

DNS trails are not groomed in winter, likely making it harder to get around, noted Goossen.

The Discovery Nature Sanctuary is open 24 - 7, 365 days a year.


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