Nature Literacy – A Priority for our Youth

Our Youth Education Programs focus on providing inspirational nature experiences to young learners, while reinforcing scientific principles learned in the classroom. In a rapidly changing world with increasingly complex and interdependent social, ecological and economic issues, it is even more crucial for students to rediscover their connections to the natural world. This grounding will help them develop as active and engaged citizens within their communities equipped with the knowledge and skills to make fully informed decisions.

While students in the Southern Gulf Islands lack easy access to museums and aquariums, we have woodlands, wetlands, beaches, and forests at our doorstep. These natural areas provide an outdoor classroom worth exploring.

Science in Nature

Students learn about ecosystem processes and natural disturbance regimes in a variety of environments including wetlands, coniferous forests, and shorelines. The emphasis of lesson content is on the connectedness and dynamic character of natural ecosystems, and developing an understanding of concepts such as evolution, energy flow, and nutrient cycles. Students develop skills of observation and prediction, and are introduced to the scientific method as a guiding principle for the discovery of knowledge. As part of each lesson, we identify knowledge gaps and unsolved problems, and encourage participants to envision themselves playing an active role in discovering knowledge and solutions.

We do not restrict our education content to factoids and organism level biology. In addition to learning about local organisms and environments, we explore topics such as astronomy, tidal forces, climate change, evolution, and natural disturbance regimes. Our staff are experienced at taking these complex topics and teaching them using age appropriate language and lessons.

The Perfect Fit

We work closely with a number of partners, including the Mayne Island School and Gulf Islands Center for Ecological Learning. Our close relationship with staff from School District 64 allows us to plan lessons that complement classroom based content. We provide guidance to school staff on preparatory material and post-lesson follow-up, which enables us to contribute more significantly to student learning than if our programs were unconnected to the students long-term learning plans.

Our experienced staff plan and deliver up to 20 science and nature lessons each school year for the students at the Mayne School, as well as working with summer camps and the School District 64 Middle Years Program. Lessons take place within Community Parks, Regional Parks, Federal Parks, and on private properties. Our relationship with community members on Mayne Island allows us access to a full spectrum of learning sites.