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Slime for Wildlife
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Slime for Wildlife

[caption id="attachment_37287" align="alignleft" width="150"] Jill Sturdy, NatureHood Program Manager.[/caption]

What do slime and wildlife have in common? Ask the Grade 4 class at St. Anne’s Elementary School in Kanata, ON, who created a project to help wildlife using slime.

As part of the Entrepreneurial Adventure program offered through The Learning Partnerships, the students created their own business as a way to develop enterprising skills, financial literacy, innovative thinking and social responsibility. Through their creativity and dedication, they made and sold slime over a 4-month period, and were successful in raising over $1,800 for Nature Canada! I first met the students at the end of February 2018, where I gave a presentation about Nature Canada, the importance of spending time in nature, and what they can do to help wildlife. A few months later their teacher, Mme. Cacciotti contacted me asking if I could come back for the student’s presentation about their project. I was so impressed by their commitment to wildlife and incredible success, I contacted the local City Councillor, Allan Hubley and asked if he would also attend the presentation.
[caption id="attachment_37282" align="alignright" width="370"] Jill Sturdy presenting a Certificate of Appreciation to Grade 4 student Carter.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_37281" align="alignleft" width="367"] 1. L-R: Grade 4 Teacher Sarah Cacciotti, Principal Chantel Couture-Campbell, Jill Sturdy, & City of Ottawa Councillor Allan Hubley, with the class from St Anne Elementary.[/caption]                  
On June 11, a few of the students gave a presentation about the project, some of the challenges they faced and how they overcame them, why they chose Nature Canada, and examples of where they sold the slime. Afterwards, I presented them with a Certificate of Appreciation, and Councillor Hubley recognized their efforts as well. It just goes to show, a little determination and commitment goes a long way. Here is what the students had to say:
“At first, I was a bit reluctant to go along with Nature Canada. But then I realized, by helping other species, we were really helping ourselves, and the world! This world belongs to all of us, and like it or not, we're here with everyone else. So we did our part, for the animals, for the people, for the world! And that's the greatest achievement of all.” - Finn Roy “I chose Nature Canada because I imagined all of the little animal faces dying in their destructed habitat. I knew I had to do something. So we chose Nature Canada to help our feathery, scaly and furry friends.” -Alexia Janeczek

Thank you St. Anne Elementary for choosing to support wildlife and Nature Canada!


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The Connection between Nature and Mental Health
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The Connection between Nature and Mental Health

Nature Canada, guest blogger, Sherry Nigro. This blog post was contributed by Nature Canada guest blogger Sherry Nigro. The benefits of spending time in nature are endless. Daily contact with nature has a positive impact on our social, psychological and physical health, and is an important factor to keep us connected to our natural environment. In the last few decades humans have become more sedentary, and less inclined to spend time in nature. This is causing a disconnect with nature, and with our own well-being. This week, to celebrate Mental Health Week in Canada, we are discussing the impact of nature on your mental health.


How nature affects mood

The National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health reports that there are several pathways by which time in nature improves mood- by reducing stress both physiologically and through attention restoration, by increasing physical activity and by increasing social contact with others.[i]  Additionally, scientists have demonstrated changes in brain activity and reduced rumination following a walk in nature.  Rumination is a preoccupation with negative thoughts and is associated with depression.[ii] Participants of the David Suzuki 30x30 challenge (30 minutes daily for 30 days) reported better moods, more energy and vitality as well as increased fascination ( which is researcher speak for a sense of awe and affinity with the natural world).[iii]

Take that black dog for a walk in the woods

Winston Churchill suffered from periods of depression or melancholy throughout his life; he referred to this as the "black dog".  Statistically, he was in good company as depression is a common disorder and is considered the leading cause of disability globally.[iv]  In Canada over ten percent of youth have had a depressive episode and eight percent of adults will experience depression in their lifetime.[v]  But the simple act of spending even short amounts of time in nature can improve moods, even in people who have been diagnosed with a mood disorder.[vi] [vii]

Complementary therapy

This is not to say that nature can replace the traditional pharmacology and psychotherapy treatments for depression.  However, it does suggest that everyone, including those who suffer from depression would benefit from access to green spaces.  This includes living in proximity to nature; a study in the U.K. of disadvantaged pregnant women found that higher residential greenness was associated with reduced depressive symptoms.[viii]

Quality matters

The benefits of time in nature are proportionate with the quality of the green space, the amount of time spent there and the level of immersion (active, such as green exercise is more effective than passive, say, looking out a window).  Therefore, it behooves us to champion the creation and protection of accessible, biodiverse natural areas where we live, work and play.

So whether you have a "black dog" in your life or just had a bad day, think about going outside for a healthy dose of nature!


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For more information on Mental Health Week in Canada, please consult the Canadian Mental Health Association Centre website. Sources [i] National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health.  2015.  Green space and Mental Health: Pathways, impacts and gaps.  Downloaded on April 16, 2018 from http://www.ncceh.ca/sites/default/files/Full_Review-Greenspace_Mental_Health_Mar_2015.pdf [ii] Bratman et al. 2015.  Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation.  Downloaded May 3, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4507237/#!po=8.62069 [iii] Nisbet, Elizabeth K.  2015. Answering Nature's Call- Results of the 2015 David Suzuki Foundation's 30x30 Nature Challenge.  Downloaded Sept. 23, 2017 from https://davidsuzuki.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/results-2015-david-suzuki-foundation-30x30-nature-challenge.pdf [iv] World Health Organization. 2018. Depression.  Downloaded May 3, 2018 from http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression [v] Canadian Mental Health Association. 2013.  Fast facts about Mental Illness.  Downloaded May 3, 2018 from https://cmha.ca/about-cmha/fast-facts-about-mental-illness [vi] Capaldi, CA, Passmore, H., Nisbet, EK, Zelenski, J., Dopko, R.  2015.  Fourishing in Nature:  A Review of the Benefits of Connecting with Nature and Its Application as a Wellbeing Intervention.  International Journal of Wellbeing, Vol 5, No. 4.  Downloaded Oct. 3, 2017 from https://internationaljournalofwellbeing.org/index.php/ijow/article/view/449 [vii] National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health.  2015.  Green space and Mental Health: Pathways, impacts and gaps.  Downloaded on April 16, 2018 from http://www.ncceh.ca/sites/default/files/Full_Review-Greenspace_Mental_Health_Mar_2015.pdf [viii] McEachern, RRC, Prady, SL, Smith, G. Et al.  2015.  The association between green space and depressive symptoms in pregnant women: moderating roles of socioeconomic status and physical activity. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Volume 70, Issue 3.  Downloaded on April 20, 2018 from http://jech.bmj.com/content/70/3/253.long

Reflection: Inclusivity in the Outdoors
Waterlillies, Susanne Swayze
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Reflection: Inclusivity in the Outdoors

This guest blog was contributed by the Lilly Paddlers, Jocelyn Dockerty and Ledah McKellar.


Let’s have a look at a lot of our Outdoor Education programs. Who are your students? Are they diverse? Does your school intentionally try to provide outdoor education for a diverse cross section of their student populations? Or is it the other way? Are our outdoor education programs present simply to entice the typical outdoor education student? You know the one. They are comfortable outside. They have used a Leatherman before. You also have to remind them not to bring it to school. They climb rocks and stuff. Their parent(s) may provide recreational opportunities that include fishing, camping, hiking, or even a bonfire or two. But what about the other children? What about the less than athletic children who are creative geniuses? Our future writers? Our future computer programmers? Our female students who may be awkward and clumsy and scream when they see ants… even if they are annoying as all else? Our students of colour? Are you enticing them to our outdoor education programs? If we are to assess our outdoor education programming in public education, a great starting point is to consider who is facilitating said program. Having strong male mentors is incredibly important for young male students. Therefore, having male teachers in a school setting is invaluable. However, when outdoor education is stereotypically dominated by masculine white men, it is important to be conscientious of how that may be affecting who enters your outdoor education programming. Here are some following steps to reflect on your outdoor education program and how you can branch out to a more diverse cross-section of your student body.

If your outdoor education program is facilitated by traditionally masculine men, consider hiring a someone who doesn’t fit that role to co-facilitate your program.

Traditionally masculine men are still awesome. Students simply need to see that all people can connect to our nature outside. In today’s world of a warming climate and an urbanizing population, it is oh so important to encourage a connection between youth/children and their natural environment. This means that our outdoor education programming should attract ALL students. Not all students are enticed to learn in an environment facilitated by a traditionally masculine men as not all students want to learn only from women. If we want to grow all students’ respect and love for their natural environment (and reduce the effects of climate change), it is important to facilitate a program that entices all students to connect to nature.

If the only candidates available for an outdoor education program are traditionally masculine men, say yes to guest speakers.

Are there no or very few women, people of color, or people from the LGBTQI+ community applying to teach Outdoor Education in your school communities? That is unfortunate, but you can still create a welcoming environment! For starters, say you cannot hire a woman within your outdoor education program. Well, the world is full of women – working in forestry, in water treatment, in outdoor recreation and leisure, in nature writing. The list is long; there’s a lot of women in the world! Indigenous communities are also graced with the presence of awesome female Elders. So go find that female forester or awesome 70 year-old Elder. Invite them to your class. Most people say yes when the invite is given. Show your students that women have relationships with nature too! One of the more recent social media world communities I am loving is Unlikely Hikers started by Jenny Bruso. It is a virtual community that highlights people of color and people from the LGBTQ+ community who love hiking. It’s not that surprising. Hiking is pretty great. Your queer student body would also appreciate knowing other queer people who do this activity. We are beyond the discussion of why the needs of queer students need to be met, but it is important to recognize they deal with self-doubt, bullying, and isolation to a larger extent than the rest of the student body. Whether you are teaching outdoor education in Red Lake or Toronto, (1) connect yourself to the queer community, (2) find those lovers of the outdoors, and (3) invite them to your class. It just takes an email to that Pride Parade coordinator and they will know who to ask. Your guest could simply share a nearby outdoors trip they have done. They could share more if they are willing. Break the stereotypes, and make your class is more inclusive for your LGTBQ students while you do it!

Ask Yourself: Is My Outdoor Education Programming Welcoming to Newcomers to Canada?

For a variety of complex reasons, many recent newcomers to Canada do not have access to outdoor opportunities, are busy settling into a new country, or do not feel comfortable in outdoor activities. Some recent newcomers are. Either way, it is important to reflect on how we are increasing the accessibility of our outdoor education programming to those who do not solely have voyageur, pilgrim, or farm settler roots with European descent. By including those with different backgrounds and connections to natural environments, we all learn. People of all countries have connections to nature that we can learn from. Make sure that your programming encourages newcomer students to feel welcome. An invitation and explanation of your program may be all it takes. Think of how much you could learn too!

Consult These Wonderful Resources

The Lily Paddlers are late to the game of inclusivity in the world of outdoor education. Consider consulting the following resources to help improve your outdoor education programming. The best, or simply put, the true educators never stop learning. Go learn. Read this stuff.
  • Outdoor Foundation has published this website full of news articles, reports, journal articles, and more that discuss outdoor inclusivity.
    • Favorite: Social Difference, Justice, and Outdoor Education. Pathways: The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education. Winter 2003, 15(1). Available at: http://www.outdoorfoundation.org/pdf/SocialDifference.pdf  This issue of Pathways (a wonderfully Ontarioan journal) features many different discussions related to inclusivity in outdoor education.
  • The Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education also has this helpful website with articles “that make the case for why inclusiveness is important to the environmental movement and environmental education.”
    • Favorite: “Facing the Future” article by Audubon Magazine.
  • The Center for Diversity and the Environment is an excellent organization out of Oregon that values the power of racial and ethnic diversity to transform the environmental movement. Their website is full of resources to help explain why inclusivity matters for everyone.

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International Day of Forests: Saying Thank You to Our Tall, Green Protectors
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International Day of Forests: Saying Thank You to Our Tall, Green Protectors

International Day of Forests This blog was written by Intern Gabriel Planas When is it? March 21 So what is it? The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations created the International Day of Forests in 2012 to celebrate the importance of forests by raising awareness about the ways in which trees help and sustain us even in our increasingly urbanized environment. This year’s theme is around ‘Forests and Sustainable Cities’ with a focus on the urban forested areas. What’s the significance? While we are all accustomed to the presence of trees in our neighbourhoods, the sight of widespread forests is becoming rarer with 13 million hectares of forests destroyed globally every year. This is becoming an increasingly larger concern as forests play an important role in providing habitat for almost 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects, helping to maintain and increase biodiversity. Forests also provide an invaluable tool to help curb climate change by storing carbon, filtrating air and water, and reducing noise pollution. Just one acre of trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people to last a year. In addition to their irreplaceable ability to filtrate both air and water, forests provide other benefits to our day-to-day urban life. Urban forests help to prevent flooding, disease and have shown to cool the air by between 2 and 6 degrees. Well-maintained urban forests and other greenspaces can help improve mental health, encourage physical activity and provide a space for communities to come together. These greenspaces can also provide comfortable and calming areas, and help reduce noise from the rest of the city. Not to mention, a city with an abundance of trees and greenspace is much more aesthetic and beautiful too!      On this International Day of Forests, take a moment to appreciate the trees around you, and all that they do. How do I get involved?

  • Step out of your front door into your NatureHood, your local forest is teeming with things to see and places to explore! Even better, bring your families outside into nature and learn about the types of trees that are in your neighbourhood!
  • Make sure that while you are out there exploring to take a picture of a tree in your yard or neighbourhood and share on social media with the hashtag #IntlForestDay. Compete with your friends for the best picture or just show off what your city has to offer, and help spread the good word about the trees!
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Teaching kids about nature AND curriculum… it’s easier than you think!
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Teaching kids about nature AND curriculum… it’s easier than you think!

[caption id="attachment_36047" align="alignleft" width="150"] Shannon Leitch, NatureHood Communications Intern[/caption] This blog was written by NatureHood communications intern Shannon Leitch. Children are increasingly spending less time outdoors and in nature. Hundreds of studies have shown that being in nature has both health benefits and improves your capacity to learn. By exposing kids to nature on a regular basis, they’ll reap the health benefits and increase their capacity to learn. Nature Canada's NatureHood program provides children and their families increased opportunities to explore and develop a long-lasting relationship with nature in their communities, and contribute to a healthier lifestyle. NatureHood aims to inspire children with a sense of wonder and appreciation for nature, creating future leaders to protect the natural places in our communities. Nature Canada developed a Do-It-Yourself Toolkit for educators that includes resources and support for nature-based learning. And the best part? You don’t have to leave the schoolyard! The NatureBlitz Toolkit is a guide for educators on how to run a NatureBlitz in the schoolyard. What is a NatureBlitz? It’s simply observing the plants, animals and environment around us in a given amount of time. A NatureBlitz can be done in any season, and almost anywhere - including a schoolyard! It will feel like a field trip, but without all the paperwork! NatureBlitzes are easy to plan, execute, and incorporate into the curriculum. What’s more, NatureBlitzes can be tailored to work with any subject that students are learning about. Link together math with finding patterns in leaves, languages with writing about what was seen during the NatureBlitz, and science with observing what sort of animals frequent your schoolyard!  Still curious about what a NatureBlitz is and how you can hold one in your school’s yard? Take a look at a video from a past NatureBlitz at Regina Street Public School (in Ottawa, Ontario), and hear about what both a teacher and a student have to say about their experience! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13EmKOlN8vc&t=12s Reconnect your students to nature, and have fun teaching them about curriculum subjects at the same time. They’ll thank you for it! Click here to download the NatureBlitz Toolkit.

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Getting Out Into Nature Is For The Birds (Bird Enthusiasts That Is!)
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Getting Out Into Nature Is For The Birds (Bird Enthusiasts That Is!)

[caption id="attachment_30818" align="alignleft" width="150"]Jill Sturdy Jill Sturdy, NatureHood Program Manager[/caption] Our NatureHood Partners were busy over the holidays helping kids explore nearby nature. From Sackville, NB across the country to Vancouver, BC, hundreds of kids and families took part in the annual Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids). Inspired by the Christmas Bird Count, CBC4Kids is a fun winter activity and a great way for families to learn more about local urban birds and bird conservation. Many of our NatureHood partners organized local CBC4Kids events that included nature walks led by volunteer guides to help identify local birds, followed by hot chocolate and snacks for the young citizen scientists to sip when they return. Their findings were then submitting through eBird, an online checklist managed by Bird Studies Canada. Christmas Bird Counts for Kids are a great way to get kids active outdoors during the winter months and learn more about local winter birds and wildlife found in their area. Spending time in nature year-round will encourage kids to continue to explore the natural world and develop a long-lasting relationship with nature. You don’t need an organized event to get out into nature! Why not plan your own family nature walk this weekend? You don’t need to go far to explore nearby nature. Go for a walk in your neighbourhood or NatureHood and observe the urban wildlife. You just might be surprised what you’ll see! Here’s a short list of some of the birds that were identified at the CBC4Kids events: [custom_table style="1"]

Black-capped Chickadee   Black-billed Magpie
Bohemian Waxwing  Canada Goose
 Downy Woodpecker  Hairy Woodpecker
 Mallard  Merlin
 Northern Flicker  Red-breasted Nuthatch
 White Cross Bill  White-breasted Nuthatch
Wood Duck
[/custom_table] To read more on these events, check out the latest article on the bird count in Saskatchewan and in Alberta.
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NatureHood Designation in Victoria, BC
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NatureHood Designation in Victoria, BC

[caption id="attachment_30818" align="alignleft" width="150"]Jill Sturdy Jill Sturdy, NatureHood Program Manager[/caption] Earlier this week, the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, unveiled a plaque that officially designated the grounds of Government House a Nature Canada NatureHood site. [caption id="attachment_35546" align="alignright" width="316"]Image of Bob Peart, Nature Canada's Board of Directors Chair and the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Bob Peart, Nature Canada's Board of Directors Chair and the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia[/caption] As a Nature Canada Honourary Women for Nature member, Her Honour has a strong passion for encouraging children to explore nature. Thanks to her leadership, the NatureHood plaque will help inspire visitors of the Gardens to explore and connect with nature. The Government House gardens are located on the traditional territory of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations. Open to the public year-round, they are an ideal place to inspire BC residents and visitors to connect with nature to appreciate this remarkable and unique part of Canada's heritage. The NatureHood plaque is located at the trailhead of the Woodlands trail, which features native plants of British Columbia, including unique Garry oak habitat. Government House is located within the Victoria capital region NatureHood, adjacent to Victoria Harbour and Esquimalt Lagoon and Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuaries. [caption id="attachment_35545" align="alignleft" width="303"]Image ofBob Peart, Nature Canada's Board of Directors Chair and Sue Staniforth, President of FOSH Bob Peart, Nature Canada's Board of Directors Chair and Sue Staniforth, President of FOSH[/caption] NatureHood is all about inspiring urban Canadians, especially youth, to explore Nearby Nature and help to foster a new generation of nature lovers. Working closely with grassroots naturalist groups, such as Friends of Shoal Harbour (FOSH), NatureHood promotes nature through celebratory events, educational and stewardship activities and wildlife observation. Friends of Shoal Harbour (FOSH), our local NatureHood partner in Victoria is active in providing nature-based educational activities to the public through events such as All-Buffleheads Day, and leading school groups through the Migratory Bird Sanctuaries in the Victoria capital region. Next time you’re in Victoria, visit the gardens of Government House and explore nature in the capital region!

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Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia unveils NatureHood site plaque to nurture a new generation of nature lovers
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Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia unveils NatureHood site plaque to nurture a new generation of nature lovers

VICTORIA, B.C.  (December 18, 2017) — The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, unveiled a plaque today to officially designate the grounds of Government House a Nature Canada NatureHood site. Earlier this year, Her Honour designated the grounds of Government House a NatureHood site to commemorate Canada’s sesquicentennial. “Nature Canada is honoured to have its NatureHood site plaque unveiled today by the Honourable Judith Guichon,” says Bob Peart, National Chair of Nature Canada’s Board of Directors and volunteer with the Friends of Shoal Harbour (FOSH). “These historic grounds on the traditional territory of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations are the ceremonial home of all British Columbians. It is an ideal place to inspire urban BC residents to connect with nature right where they live and to appreciate this remarkable and unique part of Canada's heritage.” he adds. “Nature Canada’s NatureHood program is all about inspiring urban Canadians, especially youth, to explore nearby nature and help to foster a new generation of nature lovers,” says Jill Sturdy, Manager of Nature Canada’s national NatureHood program. “As a Nature Canada Woman for Nature, Her Honour’s leadership in encouraging children to explore nature will continue to be felt for many years to come.” adds Sturdy. The Government House gardens are open to the public year-round. The NatureHood plaque is located at the trailhead of the Woodlands trail, featuring native plants of British Colombia, including unique Garry oak habitat. Government House is located within the capital region NatureHood, adjacent to Victoria Harbour and Esquimalt Lagoon and Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuaries. The Government House Grounds The Government House grounds contain more than 14 hectares (36 acres) of maintained gardens and Garry oak meadows. The grounds are divided into numerous different zones according to plant life and/or garden style including: the British Columbia native plant garden which contains species unique to the province; a Cottage Garden which is arranged in an informal style with a mixture of ornamental and edible plants; gardens to supply cut flowers, herbs, and an orchard with apple, plum, and quince trees; a rock garden tended by the Heather Society of Victoria; iris, lily, rhododendron; rose gardens (including a formal Victorian rose garden based on the plan of that at Warwick Castle in England); and, water features such as the fountain pond and the duck pond. There is also a unique 8.9 hectares (22 acres) Garry Oak ecosystem. The gardens are open to the public year-round and are enjoyed by many visitors.


For media comment please contact:
Bob Peart, Chair, Nature Canada Board of Directors 250-655-0295 | bobpeart@shaw.caJill Sturdy, NatureHood Program Manager 613-276-7226 | jsturdy@naturecanada.ca
About Nature Canada and NatureHood: Over the past 75 years, Nature Canada, a nature conservation charity has helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, Nature Canada represents a network of over 50,000 supporters and more than 350 nature organizations across the country and with affiliates in every province. One of its signatory initiatives is the NatureHood program that inspires urban residents to connect with Nearby Nature – nature right where they live. Working closely with grassroots naturalist groups, NatureHood promotes nature through celebratory events, educational and stewardship activities and wildlife observation. NatureHood aims to inspire a new generation of nature lovers. For more information visit www.naturecanada.ca About Friends of Shoal Harbour (FOSH): The Friends of Shoal Harbour Sanctuary Society (FOSH), a non-profit society works to build public support for the continued protection of the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary, which encompasses several of the bays and inlets just north of Sidney, and to promote public awareness and appreciation through celebratory events. The sanctuary is part of the Sidney Channel Important Bird Area. FOSH is a local NatureHood partner. Visit www.shoalharbour.com

15,000 Scientists endorse Nature Canada’s Strategic Plan (more or less)
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15,000 Scientists endorse Nature Canada’s Strategic Plan (more or less)

[caption id="attachment_30818" align="alignleft" width="150"]Jill Sturdy Jill Sturdy, NatureHood Program Manager[/caption] Earlier this week, over 15,000 scientists issued a “Warning to Humanity” in an effort to raise the alarm of increased environmental destruction of the planet, and what we can do about it. Published in the scientific journal BioScience, the scientists led by William Ripple revisited the 1992 “Warning to Humanity” and collected data and identified trends over the past 25 years. The story is bleak. Most of the environmental indicators measured in 1992 have gotten worse, and globally humanity has failed to curb environmental destruction from increased deforestation, rising GHGs from burning fossil fuels leading to climate change, unsustainable fisheries, mass extinction of species, and uncontrolled population growth. But…All is not lost. There is still hope.Image of a Canadian River In their “Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice”; the scientists  cite actions humanity  can take to help offset environmental destruction including three key areas Nature Canada is actively working on:

  1. Protect large intact ecosystems on land and ocean;
  2. Maintain nature’s ecosystem services by halting the conversion of forests and grasslands; and
  3. Promote outdoor environmental education for children, and overall engagement in nature.
Canada has an incredible opportunity to be a leader in global biodiversity and nature protection. Nature is part of our core and Canadian identity. We are so fortunate to have access to nature all around us. We need to ensure our children get the same opportunities to explore in nature so they grow up to be future nature advocates. At the same time, the federal government has committed to an international target of protecting at least 17% of our lands and 10% of our ocean by 2020, and politicians  need to be held to the fire to meet these critical targets. Let’s take this warning as a challenge to be better stewards of the planet and to act more sustainably. What can you do:
  1. Get outside! Take your kids out into nature on a daily basis. You don’t need to go far to explore nature. Learn more about Nature Canada’s NatureHood program on ways you can connect to Nearby Nature;
  2. Talk to your local Member of Parliament about nature conservation and your desire to see more biodiversity protected;
  3. Learn more about what Nature Canada is doing to push the federal government to meet its targets for increased protection; and
  4. Donate to Nature Canada and help us continue to be a strong voice for Nature.
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School kids get up close and personal with birds of prey
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School kids get up close and personal with birds of prey

[caption id="attachment_30818" align="alignleft" width="150"]Jill Sturdy Jill Sturdy, NatureHood Program Manager[/caption] On October 23rd over 1,000 Ottawa elementary school kids got to meet Elvis, an American kestrel and his friend Celeste, a Great-horned owl for an up close and personal presentation on birds of prey. Nature Canada worked with Falcon-Ed, a company specializing in falconry, to visit 4 schools in Ottawa to meet Elvis and Celeste, and present information about birds of prey and the important role they play in the ecosystem – including in the students’ own NatureHood. NatureHood is about connecting urban Canadians, particularly children, to nearby nature. Although over 85% of Canadians live in urban centres, there are still so many opportunities to explore nature in their neighbourhoods, or NatureHoods. Both American Kestrels and Great-horned Owls can be found in and around the Ottawa area, so having Elvis and Celeste as ambassadors help raise awareness of nearby nature and the many different wildlife species that live in the area. [caption id="attachment_35164" align="alignright" width="421"]Image of Jill and Falcon Ed Jill Sturdy and Celeste (Great Horned Owl). Photo by Jill Sturdy[/caption] Students learned what features make a bird of prey (carnivores with sharp talons and curved beaks), and found out what the Great-horned Owl’s favourite prey is (hint – you don’t want to get too close to these black and white critters or they’ll spray you with a powerful stink!). When asked how many students love being out in nature, it was unanimous – they all do! And their reaction to the birds of prey only reinforced their interest and excitement for nature. Nature Canada is the voice for Nature, and we hope that up-close wildlife presentations like these, along with direct experience in nature will help foster the next generation of nature lovers. Thank you to St. Monica, Regina Street Alternative, Our Lady of Fatima and Woodroffe Ave Public schools for inviting Nature Canada and Falcon-ed to talk about birds of prey and nearby nature. This is the time of year when the owls start looking for a mate, so it’s a great time to get out and explore in your NatureHood, and you just might hear a hoot!


Falcon-ed is a company that specializes in falconry, training birds of prey, ecological control and educational presentations. A trained falconer and biologist handles the birds of prey, who are all born in captivity and have been specially trained for presentations. You can learn more at: http://fauconeduc.biz/
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