Our mandate is to work in partnership with the local community and Grasslands National Park of Canada to promote the conservation of native prairie landscapes, while inviting the exploration and appreciation of prairie culture and natural history.
About Prairie Wind & Silver Sage (PWSS)
Incorporated in 1997, PWSS is a non-profit organization with registered charity status and a governing board of up to six volunteer directors:
- Chair: Amber Kapchinske
- Vice-Chair: Leanne Chai
- Eugene Dumont
- Leanne Marchand
In addition, two board seats are reserved for ex officio (non-voting) members:
- Grassland National Park Representative – Shelly Duquette Larson
- Village of Val Marie Representative
Operations are carried out by a part time Executive Director, Financial Administrator, seasonal staff, and volunteers.
PWSS is a recognized Ecomuseum housed in Val Marie’s historic schoolhouse (Little Brick Schoolhouse), that also serves as a gift shop, coffee bar, bookstore, art gallery and visitor centre. We work closely with our partner Grasslands National Park to provide interpretive services for Park visitors. The art gallery exhibits culturally and ecologically relevant work from regional and local artists. We also host speaker series for authors and researchers to share their stories and results with the local community and Park visitors.
PWSS takes great pride in having developed and published the Field Guide to Grasslands National Park, the only field guide of its kind.
Our free-admission, seasonal museum showcases examples of wildlife in native mixed-grass prairie including species at risk. Also presented is the historic and ongoing significance of ranching to the conservation of native prairie. We are expanding our museum scope to a virtual platform to reach those unable to visit our physical location. Our goals for the virtual museum include collecting culturally and ecologically significant stories, photos and other media and presenting it in an accessible way. Current features of PWSS include an ecomuseum, native prairie garden, coffee bar, book store, gift shop, art exhibits and public programs.
We have a formal partnership agreement with Grasslands National Park to provide visitor information services. This agreement is reviewed every three years, with the three year cycle beginning in Fall 2020.
Built in 1927, the little red brick schoolhouse was declared a Municipal Heritage Site by the Village of Val Marie in 2007. The building is owned by the Village of Val Marie, who provides PWSS with a very favourable lease arrangement.