Fri, 15 Apr 2016
Tags: Education

BC Kids Granted Opportunities for Outdoor Learning

Children from the North Okanagan Shuswap School District learning outdoors with help from an HCTF Education GO Grant.


Victoria –The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) has announced it will provide over $66,000 for BC schools to get their students out of the classroom and into the outdoors. Their aptly-named GO (Get Outdoor) Grants will be used to pay for bus transportation, project materials and program fees to provide hands-on outdoor learning experiences for more than 4500 students.

The North Okanagan Shuswap School District was one of many school districts across the province who will be benefitting from GO Grants this spring. In total, 5 of the District’s schools plus an additional 10 classes through a district-wide grant will receive just over $7700 for outdoor, environmental education field trips, including some of the following:

  • Armstrong Elementary’ s grade 4 and 5 classes will visit Kingfisher Interpretive Centre to learn about salmon and salmon habitat
  • Salmon Arm West Elementary’ s grade 2/3 and 4/5 classes will be getting out on the Shuswap River to explore life along the river and conduct local indigenous plantings
  • Shuswap Middle School class of grade 6/7 will be going to Norfolk Wild Regional Park to investigate and measure biodiversity in the park
  • Hillcrest Elementary grade 2/3 classes will take a trip Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park to examine plants and animals in the ecosystem

Now in its fourth year, demand for HCTF’s GO Grant program has steadily increased, and requests for grants now exceed the amount of funding available. HCTF received over 150 applications in its February intake, 68 of which were approved. HCTF Education Manager Kerrie Mortin hopes the amount of funding available can be increased in future years.

“Costs such as bussing, program or leader fees, and outdoor field equipment are huge barriers for many classes here in BC,” says Mortin. “GO Grants are relatively small amounts of money that can make a huge difference to whether or not a class can experience outdoor learning. HCTF believes this is one of our most important investments for our future, and so do educators:”

Teachers who have used the grants to take their classrooms on outdoor learning field experiences report that this type of learning has huge benefits.

“Fieldtrips are a fantastic learning experience for children,” says Nuala Powers, a kindergarten teacher at Sacred Heart School in Prince George. “There’s only so much you can show them or read about in the classroom. But when they go out in the environment and really experience it, it’s fantastic for them.”

Kim Fulton, a retired teacher and administrator, agrees. “Through these grants, children learn about the diverse ecosystems in BC,” says Fulton. “They develop a stewardship ethic to look after these systems and all the critters and plants in them for future generations.”

Since the program’s inception in 2012, GO Grants have allowed more than 25,500 BC students to get outdoors for a total investment of $333,067. The average cost per student is $13.

About the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF)

Since 1981, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation has provided more than $160 Million in project funding to more than 2,000 conservation, restoration, enhancement, and educational projects across BC. HCTF believes that the key to the future of conservation is investing in education. GO Grants is just one of HCTF’s Education program areas which also includes WildBC, a long-running and successful program that has been providing and supporting educators with environmental education programs and resources for over 25 years.

For more information, contact:

Kerrie Mortin 250-940-9787

Manager, Education Programs

Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation