While children are once again stuck indoors with virtual learning, HCA Environmental Education Team is working hard to adapt and make sure the magic of nature can still find its way into the virtual classroom.While nothing can replace the experience of being outdoors, the Environmental Education Team has developed unique, interactive, curriculum-linked programs which will help keep students connected. So far, they’ve developed three different programs to share with Hamilton’s students.
Livestream Virtual Sessions are 45-minute sessions directly linked to grade levels of study and curriculum requirements. Many of these sessions include worksheet materials which reflect the study session, often including experiment ideas and discussion points.
E.Y.E. (Exceptional Youth Explore) Wonder Sessions are 15- to 30-minute interactive series, allowing students and teachers to ask questions and provide input on conservation themes. In this series, Environmental Education Team members chat directly with students to unravel the myths and mysteries of our natural world.
HCA Conservation Clips are pre-recorded clips where naturalists record some of the key features and interest points found within the Hamilton watershed’s Conservation Areas. These clips will be available in the late spring.
These efforts follow a successful pre-lockdown fall term where the Environmental Education Team was able to lead sessions outdoors on school grounds. One enthusiastic teacher from Dundas Central School had assumed the highlight of the week was going to be shooting a rocket on the school grounds. To his surprise, his students were far more excited about the red wrigglers they set up in vermiculture kits for a soil and plant study!
If you’ve ever sat down during one of your trips to an HCA Conservation Area, chances are you’ve sat down on one of the over 200 tribute benches donated through the Foundation. These benches are often dedicated in honour or memory of someone special.
They can also be found in very different states of repair. Some benches have been exposed to the elements for over 30 years while others were installed as recently as a few months ago. Efforts are made to flag required maintenance but it usually falls to the donor to get in touch with the Foundation if attention is needed. This means some benches are left in a state of repair that doesn’t reflect the care and sentiment with which they were originally dedicated.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has given Foundation staff a chance to hire two students through the Federal Government’s Canada Summer Jobs program to help improve our bench program. While winter is a strange time to have summer students out in our Conservation Areas, it seemed wholly appropriate in this topsy-turvy time.
Two students, Laura Culp and Laura Lisso, have spent the last several weeks working tirelessly to catalogue over 200 benches. They’ve travelled from the Jerseyville end of the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail all the way out to Fifty Point CA and everywhere in between. They’ve done it in all kinds of weather, too! Having finished their field work well ahead of schedule, they set to work developing their data into a map and database. Now, armed with up to date information thanks to hard work of students, Foundation staff are set to start reaching out to original donors and prioritizing repairs.
While the Foundation only guarantees the repair of a bench for 10 years after it is donated, the Foundation will always be happy to work with donors past that point to ensure that benches continue to reflect the spirit in which they were donated. To learn more about the Foundation’s bench program or other tribute giving options, please visit our Tribute Giving page here.