Branching Out into Mother Nature’s Classroom
As we plan our Fall offering of our popular Branch Out program, we decided to reflect on the great time we had in spring. While nature was beginning to flourish, our staff were busy connecting with budding young minds. This spring’s program focused on renewable energy and was presented to more than 1,100 students across the Credit River Watershed.
Branch Out enhances learning for grade six through twelve students as part of their science and geography curriculum. The program raises environmental awareness and addresses how climate change impacts us locally. It includes an in-class interactive workshop and a field trip where students participate in a restoration project.
Classes can choose to participate in a collaboration day with our partner EcoSpark and their Changing Currents program. The collaboration allows students to take part in hands-on water quality monitoring and stewardship through a full day of outdoor programming in the Credit River Watershed.
As part of the Branch Out program, students learned about the types of renewable energy available: wind (turbines), solar (sun), hydroelectric (water) and geothermal (the earth’s heat). These sources have the potential to supply as much as 80 per cent of North America’s energy needs. We can reach this goal by 2050, if we really work to achieve it!
Of course, renewable energy presents challenges as well. Key factors that can affect production of energy include:
- Lack of sun
- Lack of wind
- Suitable locations for resources (turbines and solar panels)
- Effects on local wildlife, and
- Getting support from people
With this in mind, the question is how can we help? Our Branch Out program highlighted ways students can help protect nature by doing a few simple things:
- Recycle, compost and reuse items when you can
- Turn off taps when brushing teeth
- Take short showers
- Participate in meatless Mondays, and
- Give back to Mother Nature.
To complete the program, 1,200 students came out and helped us with restoration projects. These students rolled up their sleeves and helped plant 2,100 native trees and shrubs, as well as remove countless invasive species from 15 different sites in the Credit River Watershed.
This marked another successful season with the Branch Out program, thanks to the students’ hard work and our program sponsors: Ontario Trillium Fund (Grow Green Grant), TD Friends of the Environment (Brampton, Vaughn and Mississauga Chapters), Alectra Utilities and Enbridge.
We’re about to kick-off our fall season this September. To learn more about the program or to get your class involved, visit our website.