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Nature in the Neighbourhood in full bloom

Nature in the Neighbourhood
Nature in the Neighbourhood provides students with hands on experience and knowledge of the natural world around them.

Three years ago, Nature in the Neighbourhood, a low-cost program that draws kids’ attention to nature all around them was launched.In partnership with the Gosling Foundation, the program runs for a month each spring and has reached more than 2,000 students in 115 classes since it was created. More than 1,000 kids in 47 classes at nine schools in Orillia, Ramara and Carden took part this year alone, indicating that Nature in the Neighbourhood is really starting to bloom.

Steve Hynes

Steve Hynes

The program has been driven and energized by graduates of Fleming College and Lakehead University. This year, Steve Hynes took on the program and taught students and teachers that “we can’t protect what we don’t know about.” During the 100 minute program, students learned how to identify different plant, animal, reptile, and insect species by investigating their characteristics.

The program is beneficial to not only the students, but also the teachers. It encourages them to promote the students’ natural curiosity of the world around them and helps to make real world connections. The program has gained an overwhelmingly positive reception as a result of the cross-curricular nature of the program. Cassandra Downing, a science teacher at Notre Dame Catholic School writes that liked the “link to other cultures (African Safari)” and that the program emphasized the importance of preserving and protecting all trees and insects locally.

These new discoveries provide students with an opportunity to learn about specific characteristics and habitat of the species related to predator-prey relationships and the basic needs of the species

It’s not easy to measure the long-term impact, but you can see one thing consistently in a cluster of kids gathered around a bug in the grass: they’re having a blast. And where there’s fun, there’s hope.

Many students have expressed a deeper understanding about the nature living in their schoolyard and their own backyards by the end of the safari which has motivated them to explore their environment further during recess, after school, at home, and while on vacation.

A special thank you goes out to the local schools who have participated and shown interest in the Nature in the Neighbourhood program over the past three years. The program will continue to grow and will be offered again in September as well as over the course of the 2013-2014 school year.