School Programs

Educational Programs

We offer interactive, nature-based educational programming for preschool – grade 12 students. Choose your preferred theme from the list below and use the contact form at the bottom of this page to book with us!

We deliver programming in all weather; however, we cannot control the tide, and a number of our programs are tide dependent. We will do our best to find a time and tide that suit your needs, but some adaptability may be required.

Our program availability during COVID-19 is reduced, and we are following appropriate physical distancing and safety measures. Large groups may not be permitted during this time. Please contact our Coordinator to learn more about whether we can accommodate you.



Estuary Explorers

Ages: Preschool – Grade 12

Program description: Students will explore the intertidal mudflats in front of the Nature Centre and become familiar with local fauna. A clam dig and touch tank exploration will familiarize students with sandy and rocky intertidal creatures, both native and non-native, as well as rudimentary sampling methodologies. An interactive watershed modelling activity, scaled for different age groups, introduces students to principles of watershed function and health. A bird walk (seasonal) introduces students to local shorebirds and observational tools such as binoculars, telescopes, and field guides. A nature walk along the shore replaces the bird walk during shorebird migration.

Students of Kindergarten-age and younger will explore the estuary and intertidal zones through songs, stories, crafts, and a scavenger hunt. In addition, students will learn to identify intertidal life and understand the role of the tides in determining what lives where.

A specialized program exists for students of Grade 10-age and older. A key theme of this program is understanding how to study natural phenomena we can’t observe with our eyes. Students will learn about the human and natural history of the Cowichan Estuary and understand the ecological importance and defining characteristics of estuaries. Students will apply this knowledge and generate graphical representations of estuarine water properties using data collected right here in Cowichan Bay; in addition, they will make and test predictions about water properties in our touch tank. Students will draw conclusions about particular vulnerabilities of estuaries to climate-related impacts and brainstorm strategies for mitigation.


Human Impacts: Discovering Microplastics

Ages: Kindergarten – Grade 12

Program description: What are microplastics? Why are they problematic? This program introduces, defines, and explores microplastics as they are found ‘in nature’. Students will undertake a rigorous quadrat survey to quantify and qualify microplastics on the beaches adjacent to the CENC. Students will then discuss sources and environmental consequences of microplastics and collaboratively brainstorm creative solutions to the ‘plastic problem’ our oceans presently face through interactive, age-appropriate activities.


Watershed Wonders

Ages: Kindergarten – Grade 12

Program description: In this program, students will explore the water cycle through interactive activities to understand arguably the most important feature of watersheds: water! The program opens with “Watershed Yoga”, allowing students to ‘travel’ through the Cowichan and Koksilah watersheds before grounding themselves at the Nature Centre. Students will then participate in “The Incredible Journey” to understand principles of water cycling and identify major reservoirs of water on Earth. Finally, students will explore a positive and negative (age-dependent) wonder of the Cowichan and Koksilah watersheds: The Lake Cowichan Lamprey and European Green Crab. The goal of this program is to increase students’ awareness of interconnection between water and life and inspire their curiosity through introductions to unique creatures in their home watershed.


Immersed in Nature: Ecological Restoration

Ages: Grades 5 – 12

Program description: Students will participate in hands-on ecological restoration of selected sites around the Cowichan Valley. Students will become familiar with native plant species, planting requirements and techniques. Grounding activities will elucidate the importance of restoration work and help students connect themes of environmental conservation, habitat restoration, biodiversity and ecosystem health. To learn more about our Restoration Progress in the Cowichan Valley visit here.


To learn about program fees and available dates please fill out the contact form below or give us a call at (250) 597-2288.

We would like to Thank RBS Managed Services for their generous donation for the purchase of two versions of ‘The Watershed Game’. These games will be integrated into current and future programs at the Nature Centre as well as within our community. Huy ch q’u!