Program encourages teens to learn about nature and wildlife
With young Canadians spending an increasing amount of time on screens, it can be a challenge to get them outside to learn about nature. But thanks to a Canadian Wildlife Federation program called WILD Outside, teenagers 15 to 18 have the opportunity to take part in outdoor recreational activities and get involved in conservation projects. The goal is to get young people to increase their awareness of their natural environment and develop a greater appreciation for wildlife.
Nature activities to engage youth
For example, they can learn about research that is happening on a nature reserve. In June, there is a trip where teens will learn about how one reserve is researching fishery management, as well as the work being done on ticks and Lyme disease.
Other options include going on hikes, kayaking, paddle boarding, horseback riding and participating in a fungi workshop at nature parks across Montreal, the Eastern Townships and Mont-Tremblant. They can also learn about gardening in various community plots around the city, where they’ll plant pollinator-friendly flowers.
No previous knowledge or experience is required for the activities. Instructors will go over safety guidelines and facilitators will be on hand to educate the youth. Aside from horseback riding, which will be done alone, each activity can be done in groups.
“We’ll learn about the importance of planting native flowers, how pollinators benefit from floral resources, how we can help our declining pollinator populations, etc,” Serena Sinno, Montreal’s WILD Outside Youth Leadership Specialist. She added that there will be an opportunity to cook and eat some of the plants collected as well as make food from produce collected from community gardens.
During the summer, events take place during the week and on weekends whereas most are held on weekends only during the school year. Kids are encouraged to complete 120 hours (at their own pace) during the course of the program by doing various activities.
Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Director of Education Mike Bingley says the best way to ensure that this generation of young Canadians has a connection with the natural world is to have experienced it firsthand. “Through meaningful service learning, young adults will develop diverse skills while learning about themselves and the impact that they can have on the natural world,” he said. “At the same time, they will be making a real impact in their home community and in communities across Canada.”
How to Participate
There is no cost to participate in the program. To sign up for the program, applicants need to click here and fill out the form.
Founded in 1962 by a group of conservationists, the Canadian Wildlife Federation is a non-profit organization that aims to protect wildlife. Through its programs, it disseminates information about how humans impact the environment and promotes sustainable use of natural resources to encourage people to live in harmony with nature. Other programs include a conservation program, which is focused on making sure Canada’s wildlife population is healthy. It also has an endangered species program, where donations go to the recovery of at-risk species in Canada.