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Wildlife education program celebrating 25 years of taking students out of the classroom


If given a choice, most grade school students would rather take their classroom outdoors than sit at their desks.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s (CPAWS) Southern Alberta chapter has spent the last quarter century doing just that through its education program.

Education director Jaclyn Angotti has been teaching students outside for seven of those 25 years.

"We really want to not only to connect the students to nature, but to showcase that simple everyday actions they can take,” she said.

“It doesn't have to be this big, challenging thing, but if we all work together and take daily actions and work as a community, we can make a difference.”

The program has reached more than 165,000 Albertans, from Kindergarten to adults, since it was established in 1997. The idea is that everyone can benefit from nature-based learning.

"CPAWS is a conservation organization," said Angotti. "We're working to protect our public lands and wilderness spaces and we know that we can't achieve that alone as just a small team, we need all Albertans and all Canadians to be a voice for the wilderness."

Grade 6 students at RT Alderman School in southeast Calgary are signed up for the CPAWS program. Jennifer Leung is their teacher and says her students are looking forward to getting outside.

"So we've booked multiple trips with them this year – lots of hikes and we've got a snowshoe experience booked in February," said Leung.

"CPAWS does a great job where they make it really interactive, they make it a lot of fun, they incorporate a lot of games, that helps make that learning a lot easier and they also give the kids actions, 'now actions', what can I do at home right now to make a difference."

Cordelia Roess is 11 years old and is learning a lot in the program.

"Well, if we take care of the environment, it's not only helping the environment, but the environment helps us," she said. "So the more we help the environment, the more we help ourselves and nature and the rest of the people on Earth."

Program organizers hope the students share what they learn with the people closest to them.

"We always ask our students to tell at least a couple of friends or family members what they've learned or encourage them to take a certain action," said Angotti.

"Every person that we work with is actually a ripple effect in the community and that's what we really encourage that's the best action folks can take is actually sharing what they've learned and the actions that they're doing."

CPAWS and its education program is funded through grants along with public and corporate donations. Learn more about the organization and it's programs online. Top Stories

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