Happy New Year! (Wait, what?)

Photo: Julie-Anne Davies

Each year, on the first day of school, there is always a flurry of emails and phone calls within the Wildsight education team wishing one another a “Happy New Year”! For educators, parents, and teachers the beginning of September feels like the real new year; a time for new beginnings, new friendships, new discoveries, and new experiences. And like the first of January, the new school year brings with it an opportunity to create new goals and visions for the year ahead.

For more than 20 years, Wildsight has been setting and realizing nature-based resolutions. Spend more time in nature. Connect more kids to their wild backyards. Strengthen relationships between our children and the natural world. And would it be a stretch to say change the world? We don’t think so. And after connecting over 90,000 kids to the awe and wonder of Mother Nature, we are ready for 90,000 more.

Photo: Julie-Anne Davies

This school year, Wildsight will connect thousands of children and youth to the splendour and wonder of the wild places we live. Whether it is a one-day field trip or a year long learning journey, we will celebrate the value and beauty of nature all year long. Right now, our littlest learners from Kindergarten to grade 3 are getting ready to dive deep into the ebb and flow of the seasons through our Nature Through the Seasons program. When the snow flies and winter is upon us, our young learners will transform into snowflake scientists and learn how our animal and plant neighbours survive this chilly season through our half-day Winter Wonder program.

Classroom with Outdoors

For grade 4-7 students, forests, wetlands and grasslands will come alive during our Classroom with Outdoors field trips. During this full-day field trip, students will learn about ecosystem services and the importance of preserving intact ecosystems. Through our EcoStewards program, teachers and students will continue to build upon these concepts by developing and carrying out an action project that evolves from the idea of building reciprocal relationships with the land.

And let’s not stop there. We are also going to give students the tools and knowledge they need to make important decisions for our planet. Beyond Recycling is a 24-week journey where students look critically at the impact, or ecological footprint, of their schools, homes and businesses.

Our Know Your Watershed program will challenge Grade 9 students to learn where their drinking water comes from, where it goes after they use it, and how to protect it for generations to come. Know Your Watershed, a regionally-based watershed education program delivered throughout the Columbia Basin, is a program of the Columbia Basin Trust and is administered and delivered by Wildsight.

A couple of weeks ago, students returned to the classroom after experiencing an unprecedented summer of heat waves and wildfires in British Columbia. They have experienced first-hand the effects of a changing climate. We need to give the next generation of policy and decision makers the tools and knowledge to stand up for nature and this can only be done through building ecological literacy, spending time connecting to the wild, and building a love and empathy for the natural world — something that Wildsight’s education programs have been doing for more than two decades.

Can Wildsight change the world through our environmental education programs? We think so. And our team of 25 environmental educators are already out on the landscapes instilling wonder and love into the hearts and minds of thousands of young people. The change starts now.

So from the education team here at Wildsight, we hope this school year is the best one yet. Happy New Year!