The past school year started off like any other with schools from all over Hamilton and even schools outside of Hamilton looking to visit the Dundas Valley Conservation Area for our unique and amazing outdoor education programs.
This school year, however, was not like any other, and our programs were greatly impacted, first by the work-to-rule action of Ontario teachers and their negotiations at the end of November, and later when Covid-19 was declared a pandemic in March that resulted in the closure of all schools.
However, our Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) Education staff was able to quickly adapt and put new programming in place.
To deal with the work-to-rule action, the Education team quickly devised specific programming that could be mobile for some of the booked classes – Habitat Study for Grades 2 to 6, and Invasive Species for Grade 9. They were able to provide a number of schools with this option, utilizing their classroom space and transitioning it into a Field Centre, complete with artifacts and sensory activities.
When Covid-19 closed the schools in March, Education Staff once again adapted and, in collaboration with the HCA Marketing team, were able to develop and provide a mixture of learning resources, activities and games for teachers, parents and students to access on the HCA website through a new Nature at Home program.
This school year has been unique in many ways and the education program has had to adapt to the varying changes encountered. Whether going into schools to provide programming or creating online materials for families to do at home, the education program has excelled at providing these opportunities and will continue to do so. We are very much looking forward into getting students back into nature in the coming school year.
We are appreciative of our donors that continue to support the Foundation’s Step Into Nature Fund allowing the education program to adapt and continue to bring nature to students in a variety of ways.