Students from across the Wellington Catholic District School Board have enjoyed visiting the Guelph Lake Nature Centre from the comfort of their classrooms - thanks to educators with the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA).
During virtual field trips, Ann Schletz, environmental educator with the GRCA, live streams an interactive nature walk based on the Ontario science curriculum. Schletz, who has been with the Guelph Lake Nature Centre for three decades, extends the scope of the virtual visit, by sharing asynchronous activities that students can do in the school yard or at home.
“This year, each Wellington Catholic District School Board class from grades 1 – 8 will receive two half day programs. We will visit 219 elementary classrooms and deliver 438 programs. We are also delivering programs for the grade 11 Environmental Science programs at Lourdes, St. James and Bishop Macdonell high schools,” she said.
And so far, the virtual visits have been well received by students!
“It makes me smile when I hear happy voices sharing stories about things that they remember seeing or doing at the nature centre,” shared Schletz. “Often, something like a chickadee visiting the camera, or walking up to the hugging tree will lead to many stories that start with ‘I remember when…’ Students love sharing stories about places that they have been exploring close to their homes and school yard.”
Although traditionally this program has been delivered in person, the shift to virtual programming has become favorable for students and teachers.
“It has been nice to engage with the students and maintain that connection that they have to the nature centre. For the students that have never visited the nature centre, it has been a great way to introduce them to the site, so that when they finally get to visit in person, they will be able to deepen that relationship with natural world by engaging all of their senses. We are mindful of student wellness and we encourage students to get outdoors to be healthy,” said Schletz. “While the virtual programming has been great, we can’t wait to be together in person once again!”