Nature Cards

Nature Cards Designed for Metchosin Kids
Kem Luther

A deck of cards can be fun.  Can they also be educational? The Metchosin Foundation’s new set of plant cards, featuring 50 of the most common plants around Metchosin, feels to the hand like a pack of overly large playing cards. The cards are printed on glossy, water-proof, heavy stock paper.  But there the resemblance ends. Instead of suits and numbers, the cards have pictures (with inset close-ups) of the plants on one side. On the reverse is a description of the plants’ appearances, habitats, and uses. Written in a simple, jargon-free prose that most intermediate students should be able to read, the cards also introduce and define 50 important botanical terms.

The plant cards were developed as part of a series of Metchosin Foundation initiatives to help increase awareness of the natural environmental among the young people of Southern Vancouver Island. Teachers from local schools, when interviewed about their instructional needs, expressed an interest in a set of cards for classroom use that would have pictures and descriptions of everyday local organisms. The Foundation set up a project team of local photographers, naturalists, and educators to develop the cards. The team included (in alphabetical order) Danny Buchanan, Beverly Hall, Kem Luther, Andy MacKinnon, and Moralea Milne.

The team analyzed data from the Metchosin BioBlitzes in order to determine which plants young people were most like to encounter in the field. As a result, 22 per cent of the card set (11 of them) are introduced, mostly invasive plants. The bulk of the cards, however, represent common native species. Pictures for the cards came from local photographers and from Wikimedia royalty-free sources.

Sets of the nature cards were donated to local schools by the Metchosin Foundation and printable versions have been made available on the web to all teachers. Boxed sets of the nature cards are also available for purchase. Cost of the set is $35 (plus shipping, if necessary), with all proceeds going to the Metchosin Foundation. Ordering information can be found at The boxed cards make great gifts. If you have connections with non-Metchosin schools, consider donating sets of the cards to them.

Resources and Tools for Metchosin’s Biodiversity

Nature Cards and Maps of Metchosin:
The Metchosin Biodiversity Project and its sponsor, the Metchosin Foundation, have developed tools to help both young and old Metchosin residents monitor and appreciate the natural environments of Metchosin. This page describes and provides access to a set of 50 Nature Cards and maps of both Hans Helgeson and West-Mont Montessori School locations and trails.

The completed Nature Card package contains a set of 50  4” X 6”  2-sided cards printed on heavy-stock, waterproof, tearproof paper. The cards describe common plants—and one lichen—from Southern Vancouver Island.  The team analyzed data from the Metchosin BioBlitzes in order to determine which plants young people were most like to encounter in the field. As a result, 22% of the card set (11 of them) are introduced, mostly invasive plants. The bulk of the cards, however, represent common native species. You can order a set of cards or download the PDF masters if you wish to develop your own application.

As well, the Metchosin Foundation and District of Metchosin have collaborated to provide Metchosin’s two schools, Hans Helgesen Public School and Westmont Montessori, with maps of their school grounds, surrounding areas, and nearest regional parks. Both schools explore the parks closest to them (Witty’s and Devonian) for nature education. Teachers at the schools expressed an interest in having detailed maps that show their school grounds and the relationship of these grounds to the parks. The maps can be downloaded for free.

Metchosin Foundation Outreach

Environmental education for youth is a major focus of the Metchosin Foundation activities this year, involving both of our local elementary schools as well as Belmont and Royal Bay High Schools.

In February, teachers and students at Westmont Montessori School were presented with an outdoor environmental education backpack to support student outdoor activities in the forests, fields and shorelines around the school. The packs include class sets of magnifying glasses, hand grip tweezers, and measuring sticks as well as a set of laminated pamphlets for doing field species identification.

An “Eco-Card” Project is also well underway.  The Foundation is producing, with the help of local naturalists and writers, a set of 50 laminated cards.  These 4 inch by 6 inch cards have pictures on the front of some of Metchosin’s most common plant species.  On the back is a description of the plan written with ten-year-olds in mind.  Sets of these eco-cards will be donated to the schools.   The plan is to have them ready by the summer.   Also, teachers in both schools have indicated their need for speakers, especially for the upper grades, who have expertise in environment, ecology, gardening, natural history. We are currently developing a list of Metchosin experts, so please let us know if you would like to participate in your area of interest. Wildflowers in the spring? Birds in the summer?  Mushrooms in the fall?  Animal signs in the winter?

The Foundation is also working with teachers at Westmont Montessori and Hans Helgesen schools to produce laminated maps of Metchosin and Metchosin environments.  The map posters will be donated to the schools for classroom use.

On Friday and Saturday April 7 and 8, the Walk and Talk will focus on Native Bats in Metchosin. The presentation at the Community House Friday evening will be followed by an opportunity outdoors to build your own bat boxes. Materials will be provided in a kit format. Donations to the Metchosin Foundation will be welcome.

The new Metchosin Foundation High School Scholarship Project is being launched thanks largely to a generous donation from one of our Metchosin benefactors. Funds will be made available for students who are:

  1. Residents of Metchosin
  2. Graduating from Grade 12
  3. Have demonstrated excellence in key areas, and
  4. Are pursuing higher education opportunities.

Further criteria are being discussed and details are currently being worked out with the local high schools. If you are interested in enhancing this fund with a tax-deductible gift, please contact the Metchosin Foundation.