Generations of students have learned about nature on Hamilton’s beautiful and diverse conservation lands.
From 1970 to 1996, over 300,000 students visited HCA education classes with funding from the provincial government. The program was cut in the late 1990s and re-established with grant funding and donations in spring of 2002. Today it is operated out of the Dundas Valley and hosts an average of 9,000 students per year.
With an initial grant of $10,000, the Edith H Turner Foundation Fund at the Hamilton Community Foundation helped cover transportation costs for a few Hamilton schools in low-income neighbourhoods. Those schools, which once represented just a small percentage of program attendees, account for over half of this year’s classes so far.
While $5 for a school bus trip may not seem like much to most of our readers, for many Hamilton families, there just isn’t room in the budget. This simple problem meant many of Hamilton’s public schools simply couldn’t afford the cost of a school bus to get to the Hamilton Conservation Authority’s Education programs. While schools have their environmental field trip costs covered by the school board’s budget and donations to the Foundation, just getting enough money to book a school bus was a huge barrier.
In order to help solve this problem, the Foundation put a proposal together for the Edith H. Turner Foundation Fund at the Hamilton Community Foundation. The Community Foundation was immediately receptive and provided an initial grant of $10,000 for the Foundation to reimburse schools with financial barriers for their transportation costs.
Five years later, the reimbursement program continues to receive funding from the Edith. H. Turner Foundation Fund. To date it has helped to connect over 10,000 students who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to spend a day in the Dundas Valley. For many of these students, this is their first real taste of the great outdoors.
Teachers clearly see the value in the reimbursement program too. Our 2017 program budget had already been spent by September. Donations are being put to work to bridge the gap and ensure every class who wants to visit the Dundas Valley gets a chance to do so.
The program is now such a success that so far this year, over 50% of kids taking part came from schools participating in the reimbursement program.
Over 70 volunteers helped to plant 150 native trees and shrubs at the end of September.
Volunteers from the Friends of the Eramosa Karst, Alectra Utilities and ArcelorMittal Dofasco donated their time on a chilly Saturday morning. This latest planting, focused along Second Road helped to naturalize the Eramosa Karst Feeder Lands.
The Friends of the Eramosa Karst volunteer group has now raised more than $25,000 for the Foundation’s Eramosa Karst CA Fund and contributed countless volunteer hours in order to protect and promote awareness of the Karst’s unique geographic features.
An enthusiastic group of donors and community members attended an October 14th celebration revealing the name.
The core of the Saltfleet Conservation Area, located south of the Dofasco 2000 Trail on the east side of First Road East in Stoney Creek is a 99 hectare parcel of land. Unlike most of HCA’s conservation areas, this area does not yet feature trails, pavilions and recreational amenities.
The area was formed in the early stages of what is a decade-long $10 million project which will see engineered wetlands and stream restoration projects along Battlefield and Upper Stoney Creeks upstream from the Niagara Escarpment.
When government funding for Outdoor Environmental Education ended in the late 1990s, many thought the Dundas Valley Conservation Area had hosted its final classes. Two decades later, the program is stronger and more vital than ever thanks to the generosity of people like you.
To cope with increased demand for time spent in nature, our education program has partnered once again with the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board to dramatically increase the number of school trips available to Hamilton’s public schools.
These programs are supported by the school board’s budget and donations to the Foundation’s Outdoor Environmental Education Fund. This increased demand means that we are putting more donor dollars to work than ever before. Our fundraising target for the 2018 Outdoor Environmental Education program will rise to $125,000 from its 2010-2017 level of $55,000.
With increased screen time, poor physical activity levels and changing lifestyles, time spent outdoors is more important to healthy child development than ever before.
We are extraordinarily fortunate to have donors who care about this program. Your support is more important and more impactful than ever before.