Nature Alberta, along with Science Outreach — Athabasca and the Athabasca Watershed Council, hosted its Bio Blitz activity June 24 at Athabasca's Riverfront Park, where they showed participants the plants and animals they can find in their own backyard.
Zoe MacDougall, the Nature Kids program co-ordinator for Nature Alberta, said experts were brought in from various areas to specifically discuss different plants, animals and insects located within the Athabasca region.
"We also did some insect collection with some of the children," MacDougall said. "They also brought them back and identified some of the bugs they captured."
MacDougall added at 1:30 p.m., they also did a nature walk with the plant and animal experts down the Athabasca Landing Trail by the Tawatinaw River.
"This event is just getting to know the diversity in our local parks, and getting families within the community to go outside and enjoy nature," she said.
Robert Holmberg, a professor with AU's Science Outreach program, was the bug expert at the event.
"I brought over some specimen samples in two cases for the children to see," Holmberg said. "In one case, it was all local insects that the children could find in their own backyard, and the other one had foreign insects from around the world."
One of the things Holmberg discussed with the children included how to recognize the sexes for butterflies and moths.
"Butterflies usually get around in the daytime, so they use colour in order to find sexual recognition," he said. "Because moths usually go around at night, they tend to be less colourful, and so they use chemicals to find one another."
Marie Bay Breiner, the outreach co-ordinator for the Athabasca Watershed Council, was the plant expert at the blitz.
"I am a biologist by training, and I continue to have an interest in plant life, especially in healing and edible plants," Brenier said. "Some of the vegetation along the riverfront are native to the area, and I am very glad that they were planted in the area. They survive the heat a lot better, as well as the winter weather, and as they are native to the area, they are not invasive."
Michelle Knaggs is a wildlife specialist from the University of Alberta who specifically specializes in birds.
During the walk, she asked the children questions, including what makes a bird a bird.
"I was impressed with what they knew, which was quite a lot," she said. "They pointed out some of them cannot fly, like penguins for instance. But they also knew that all of them lay eggs, and they also asked a few very specific questions about the different types of birds."