By Ian Croft
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) announced the three winners of their 2023 APEGA Innovation in Education Awards, and with two of the three awards going to schools in Calgary, Taber managed to secure the last one with Taber Christian School receiving it due to their soil erosion and trail networks project.
Klaas Hoekstra, principal at Taber Christian School, was able to go into more detail about what it felt like to win this award, and what they are looking to accomplish with the project.
“Very excited about it. We’ve been spending lots of time with our students working over the past few years on supporting the Trail 77 Club, and it’s been a great opportunity for kids to explore outdoors,” said Hoekstra. “Also to get back to the community since they can build and help develop some of the trails network. It’s also been great in regards to kids getting outdoor projects and this one is focusing on the science of the trail, specifically erosion. We’re going to study erosion of a few sections on some of the trails, and we received the grant so we can do that study, and make some purchases to help eliminate some of the erosion that might be happening in certain areas.”
From here Hoekstra also took a moment to discuss what inspired the school to take on such a project.
“The Trail 77 Club has been around since 2019, and our school was gifted bikes by our community several years ago. Our kids love biking. It so easily accessible because it’s close to the school to get to a trail. We received great support from the Town of Taber and the MD of Taber in regard to building, developing these trails, and it’s a perfect outlet for kids. During COVID it was great because we needed to keep that distance and have that space, and it just developed that excitement. Let’s continue with kids getting on the trail. Now we do a little biking, but the trail network is obviously for running, hiking, walking and some of are classes walk trails as well as part of the phys ed curriculum for health and wellness. Quite excited to be able to access the awesome trail network that we have here.”
Hoekstra also talked about how this program is very beneficial for the kids who grow up and work on farms.
“I would say the kids accessing hands-on STEM opportunities is great,” said Hoekstra. “We are trying to find more exciting opportunities for students within the Town of Taber, and these projects and activities are awesome for kids, especially kids who are excited about agriculture. I mean the focus of this is how do we take care of the land that we are using and how do we do it well? I know that is a huge focus for agriculture businesses within our community. Many of which are kids are connected with farms. Many of our students live on farms or have parents that work on farms, and it’s great for them to get excited about that as well.”