Happy 20th birthday to Wildsight’s Education programs! Grab a slice of cake and celebrate with us as we recognize this milestone anniversary.
More than 86,000 students have participated in at least one of Wildsight’s eight different educational programs since 2000, with educators focused on getting kids out of the indoors and into the outdoors. The sessions run in schools across the Columbia Basin in six school districts.
Monica Nissen, Wildsight’s Education Director, began about 15 years ago as an educator with Wildsight. With a background in teaching and a passion for outdoor learning, Monica found her perfect fit at Wildsight.
“We’re learning from our wild backyard and connecting kids; they’re really learning about what makes the Columbia Basin so special,” Monica explains.
A team of 24 educators make nature come alive to basin students. From introductory classes in ecology to multi-week in-depth studies, there is a program suitable for every age and stage of a student’s learning. Programs include sessions such as the Columbia River Field School and Go Wild, field trips in Classroom with Outdoors or Winter Wonder; and classroom sessions like Beyond Recycling.
Times have changed in the last 20 years. Educators have always found teachers keen to bring Wildsight programming to their students. But what has changed is that more teachers are now seeing the strong connection between Wildsight programming and their own teaching.
“In the past this might have been viewed as a fun field trip. More and more now, we’re looking at it as an experiential extension of what the B.C. curriculum is asking of them,” explains Monica. “Place-based learning (connecting students to where they live) has become an important pillar to the redesigned curriculum.”
Wildsight educators empower classroom teachers to not only get their students outside, but to give teachers the confidence that they can use the rich natural surroundings in which we live to inspire and instill a love of the outdoors in the next generation.
“What I am proud of is how Wildsight educators are really building relationships with teachers; and that is increasing the understanding that what they’re doing together is part of a bigger vision. The experiences really serve as jumping off points to continue place-based, environmental learning. To me that’s always been the goal, that we’re really integrating into teaching and learning plans,” says Monica. “We’re on a great path, and I’m excited to see this continue.”
Looking forward, Wildsight’s education programs will continue to give kids the knowledge and experience of the natural world so that the next generation will continue to protect, conserve, and cherish the wilderness around us.