Young and not so young naturalists gather in Ottawa

Two weekends ago, 17 participants of all ages gathered in Ottawa to put their collective brain power to identifying and addressing common issues facing young naturalist clubs in Canada, in particular the question of how to get more youth involved in nature.

Seven youth and eleven adult leaders/mentors came from six provinces to share their perspectives and wisdom, thanks to a grant from the Mountain Equipment Co-op. Award-winning environmental educator Lisa Glithero opened the workshop with an inspiring talk on developing leadership skills and qualities in youth through experiences in nature.

The group spent the next two days exploring solutions and strategies to deal with common issues. Across Canada, it is apparent that many clubs and organizations such as the Young Naturalists Club of BC or the Cercle des Jeunes Naturalistes of Quebec, which represent many clubs, are popular, doing good work and successfully reaching many children and youth. It became clear that through networking, groups will be able to help each other by sharing programs, strategies and ideas.

The seven youth brought great energy to the meeting, as well as a perspective that it is through the school systems that strategies to engage youth in nature need to be elaborated, as the school is the centre of their world. In addition to developing the elements of a national strategy for connecting youth to nature, the group “lucked in” to a rally featuring Canadian environmental icon Dr. David Suzuki. Dr. Suzuki delivered a powerful and inspiring speech as part of a the FLICK-OFF campaign rally to get to 100% renewable energy for Canada that was held in nearby Confederation Park. That’s some of our workshop participants signing their names to the campaign below.