Environmental Education Is Growing
Sierra Club BC is branching out.
For the recent 2014-2015 school year they had a brand-new education team. There is a long history and strong foundation of environmental education to build on, and this season brought new energy and ideas to the programs. Last year they visited 230 classrooms across BC. This means that they directly engaged over 5500 students.
Kirsten Dallimore, Sierra Club BC Educator, shared her passion for environmental education with every student and teacher. Kirsten would begin each program with the question: “What do you love about nature?” One of her favorite parts of the day was hearing the students’ responses: “It’s peaceful…”, “I love trees and animals…,” “…opportunities to have freedom out in nature.”
In years past, Sierra Club BC has delivered the majority of its programs in and around Victoria BC. Last year, the goal was to be more province-wide. Sierra Club BC is especially proud to have reached many areas and schools where students and teachers would not otherwise have opportunities to connect with their local environment and learn about ecosystems and stewardship in BC. Sierra Club BC delivered more than half of our programs (160 programs) in Port Coquitlam, Vancouver, Surrey, Terrace, Quesnel, Penticton, Kelowna, Langley, White Rock, Abbotsford, Courtenay, Royston, Comox, Duncan and Nanaimo.
Building Strong Relationships
At many schools, Kirsten was able to teach every class. This achieved another goal: to build strong relationships with students, teachers and principals. For Kirsten, this was also a huge reward: “I knew we were on track, when I kept being asked to come back to schools next year to build on the relationships and learning.”
In Terrace, Kirsten delivered programs to every class at Uplands Elementary. To celebrate, the school held an assembly to highlight all the shared learning and the importance of environmental values. They contributed through a ‘wish tree’: an activity Sierra Club BC ran with a number of schools this year. They’ve used it as an effective way to leave a lasting reminder of our programs and students’ environmental interests. Kirsten invited all students and teachers to write their wish for the environment, their ‘big question,’ or how they take action to protect nature on a leaf, and add it to a tree mural that now stands in their school.
Beyond school programs, Sierra Club BC also continuously supports teachers to incorporate environmental education in their teaching. They are passionate about helping teachers meet science curriculum outcomes and inspire them to integrate experiential, outdoor learning into their daily practice. Their monthly Education E-newsletter provides lesson plans and activities for teachers to get their students outside and learning about ecosystems, species, and sustainability in BC.