April 12, 2022, Perth, Ontario – Students attending Youth Action Committee (YAK) Youth Services last year were given a free and educational opportunity to safely explore nature at their own pace as they learned about local species, freshwater health, and how to take local action. This was possible because of a pilot project called the Nature Discovery Backpack program, organized by Watersheds Canada.
Thanks to generous funding from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, and Peterborough K.M. Hunter Charitable Foundation, youth and their families were able to borrow Nature Discovery Backpacks which included all necessary lessons and field equipment, such as mini water test kits, native wildflower seed kits, aquatic dip nets, and identification guides. The program is Ontario-curriculum linked and was targeted for students in middle and high school years.
“It’s so important for youth to have an appreciation for their local environment and ecosystems. Through education and awareness, youth can be empowered to positive environmental stewardship”, said Andrew Wilson, Program Coordinator, YAK Youth Services.
The backpack contents helped increase student engagement and identification skills regarding local species, and contributed to local environmental sustainability knowledge and action on public lands. Youth also were able to attend in-person workshops where they learned about local water quality issues and how to collect community science data using mini water test kits from the Water Rangers organization.
“Testing the condition of the water hadn’t been something I’d thought of doing before this workshop”, said Amelia. Amelia was one of the students who attended an in-person workshop at YAK’s new facility on Rogers Road. “There was a lot of stuff that was really cool that we learned about today and I am excited to use my new water test kit to test on at my hunting camp on the lake”.
This project was made possible thanks to Friends of the Tay Watershed, Vortex Canada, Water Rangers, Watersheds Canada, and YAK Youth Services. The Nature Discovery Backpack program is expanding to Sudbury in 2022 thanks to a partnership with Junction Creek Stewardship Committee and the Greater Sudbury Public Library. The Nature Discovery Backpack program is open to community groups and classrooms across Canada. If you are interested in delivering a Nature Discovery Backpack program in your area, please email Watersheds Canada (firstname.lastname@example.org).
About Watersheds Canada
Watersheds Canada is a national non-profit charitable organization that works with landowners, communities, and organizations to enhance and protect lakes and rivers through developing effective and transferable long-term solutions. Watersheds Canada envisions people caring for their waters, resulting in clean, healthy lakes and rivers to support humans and wildlife for years to come. Learn more at Watersheds.ca
About YAK Youth Services
YAK is a charitable organization working to provide opportunities, support, resources, training and encouragement to youth in Perth, Ontario and the surrounding rural area. During the school year, we offer a variety of after school and employment readiness programs. YAK provides youth with valuable experiences of personal development and exposure to the benefits of positive role models. Community youth come to the centre voluntarily, creating stellar opportunities for youth engagement initiatives. Learn more: Yakyouth.ca
Communications and Fundraising Manager