Mon, 21 Jan 2019

Hop to it! Go Grants Deadline is February 15, 2019!


The focus of GO Grants is to help get students learning and participating in hands-on experiences in nature. Field trip grant applications are available to K-12 classes and schools in BC to experience BC’s biodiversity.

For more information visit:

Thu, 18 Oct 2018
Tags: Education

HCTF Partners with C2C to Support Environmental Education

NatureKids Otter Home Learner Club - Photographer Colin McQuillan

Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation is pleased to once again help sponsor the Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication (EECOM) conference. This popular annual gathering brings together educators from across the nation to share resources and best practices related to place-based education and environmental literacy.

“Partnering with #EECOM2018 is a great way of living out HCTF’s mission to foster environmental stewardship from a young age,” explains HCTF Board Chair Winifred Kessler. “We know classroom programs are a great way of encouraging life-long conservation, and so we are very happy to help teachers gather new tools to take back to their home communities.”

HCTF is part of the BC Classrooms to Communities Network, a group of diverse organizations working together to link education, community and conservation in B.C. This year’s conference has chosen the theme “Classrooms to Communities”, which envisions “learners and educators being deeply connected to place, community and planet, able to effectively communicate their stories of connectedness, and taking responsibility to do so.”

The 2018 conference will take place Thursday October 18 to Sunday October 21 at St. Eugene Mission Resort on Ktunaxa Nation land in BC’s Kootenay Rockies. St. Eugene Mission Resort is owned by several Ktunaxa communities: ʔakisq̓nuk First Nation, ʔaq̓am, ʔakink̓umǂasnuqǂiʔit (Tobacco Plains), yaqan nukiy (Lower Kootenay) and Kyaknuq+i?it – the Shuswap Indian Band. This former residential school site now serves as a vehicle for education and economic development, and is therefore a very fitting venue for this conference.

“We are very grateful for the support of HCTF and share the Foundation’s commitment to finding creative ways to facilitate place-based learning,” says CBEEN Executive Director Duncan Whittick, who coordinated the event. “This conference marks the culmination of work by the Classrooms to Communities (C2C) provincial collaboration which HCTF has been part of since the very beginning.”

The conference will be the launching point for annual provincial Classrooms to Communities conferences taking place across BC as part of the provincial Pro-D day on October 19, 2018. Click here for more information.

Mon, 24 Sep 2018
Tags: Education

Going wild with GO Grants: Over $83,000 awarded to get BC students learning outside

Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation has awarded over $83,000 in GO Grants to help create outdoor learning opportunities for elementary and high school students across BC.

“We received an unprecedented number of applications for our Fall grant intake, and we are delighted that we were able to fund so many great field trips and outdoor learning projects,” says HCTF Education Programs Manager Kerrie Mortin. “These grants will enable over 6200 students to get learning outdoors.”

Thanks to an exciting new collaboration with BC Parks, HCTF was able to approve a much higher number of proposals compared to previous Fall intakes. BC Parks provided over $30,000 in funding towards field trips and outdoor learning opportunities taking place in provincial parks. This contribution is just one component of a multi-faceted partnership between BC Parks and Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, which will also include new resources and experiential learning opportunities that will be rolled out in the months to come.

This round of grants will be directed towards field trips scheduled between September 15 and March 31. There will be another intake in the spring for field trips planned for April 1-June 30, 2019. Interested future applicants can visit the HCTF Education website to learn about future opportunities, and to access a wide range of resources for outdoor learning.


Tue, 19 Jun 2018
Tags: Education

BC Parks Contributes $30K from Licence Plate Sales to HCTF GO Grants Program

Environment Minister George Heyman announces BC Parks will contribute $30,000 to HCTF's GO Grants program.

VICTORIA – To get more students out of the classroom and into the great outdoors, BC Parks is contributing $30,000 from the sales of specialty licence plates to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation’s (HCTF) GO Grants Program.

“By supporting the GO Grants Program, we are giving youth a chance to experience nature and gain a unique learning experience in some of the most beautiful provincial parks B.C. has to offer,” said George Heyman, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “We hope a new generation of young people will form a lifelong attachment to our province’s diverse and rich natural environment.”

Minister Heyman announces GO Grants funding

The GO Grants Program provides funding for school field trips to provincial parks, and other natural areas, so students can learn about B.C.’s fish and wildlife habitats, as well as biodiversity, while fostering an appreciation for the environment. The trips give youth a chance to spend time outdoors and participate in hands-on learning activities, such as beach seining, releasing salmon fry, nature scavenger hunts, and plant and animal identification.

Last year, licence-plate funding supported outdoor learning in provincial parks for more than 700 students. Up to 2,500 students are anticipated to go on field trips this year, as demand for the program is at an all-time high.

“We want every student in B.C. to have the opportunity to experience first-hand the incredible diversity of animals and plants that are part of their communities,” said HCTF education committee member Ken Ashley. “BC Parks’ contribution will enable an additional 2,100 students to participate this year. Connecting kids to nature helps build a conservation ethic that is critical to protecting B.C.’s biodiversity for future generations.”

Dr. Ken Ashley speaks on behalf of HCTF at GO Grants at Goldstream Provincial Park

The B.C. government is reinvesting all net proceeds from the sale and ongoing renewals of BC Parks licence plates back into provincial parks, to ensure action is taken to protect the environment and achieve conservation goals.

Students from Ecole Margaret Jenkins Elementary School on a GO Grant field trip to Goldstream Provincial Park.

Wed, 4 Apr 2018
Tags: Education

GO Grants to Get Thousands of Students Outdoors This Spring

HCTF School GO Grants in the snow

There may still be snow in parts of BC, but spring GO Grant field trips are just around the corner! We’ve just awarded $75,000 in GO grants to 216 teachers in 34 different school districts to get more than 5500 BC students learning outdoors this spring.

This photo was submitted to us by Amy Woodland Elementary School in Cranbrook. The school used an HCTF GO Grant for its “Wilderness Wednesdays” initiative. Each Wednesday, the school hired a bus to take several classes to Jim Smith Provincial Park and Idlewild Park to participate in outdoor, place-based learning experiences. The main goal of “Wilderness Wednesdays” was to provide children with regular access to natural spaces for child-directed, inquiry-based learning. Kindergarten teacher Leah Draper reports that the opportunities for learning were endless. “We were fortunate to have guest educators teach us about bats in the fall, and Dave Quinn from Wildsight facilitated the program, Nature Through the Seasons. All of the learning and free-play activities were rooted in the features of and changes in the local forest environment, ” says Draper.

Students learned about local plants and animals and how they adapt to changing seasons. They built shelters, had weekly campfire stories, went snowshoeing, ice-fishing, created art from natural elements and played cooperative games. Outdoor education students from the University of Victoria also participated in the field trips to apply their learning with the classes.

“This was a transformative experience for our school,” says Draper. “Because of our school’s central location in Cranbrook, we don’t have many natural spaces within a reasonable walking distance. These field trips provided children with learning experiences that they will remember, and reports from children, parents and staff have been positive and full of appreciation.?”

Teachers have reported increased levels of student engagement and improved student relationships as a result of collaborative problem solving during field trip activities. Students were also allowed time to play and explore independently, providing welcome opportunities for using their imagination. Draper observed Kindergarten students becoming families of wolves and creating and maintaining an icy “otter” slide, as well as constructing numerous “homes” for other animals. The wilderness experience also led students to build resilience when faced with obstacles, including inclement weather.

This was the school’s second year of Wilderness Wednesdays and teacher participation has grown immensely. The school hopes to continue getting their students outdoors and plans to apply to HCTF Education’s Wild Schools program to build upon their students’ ecological literacy.

Find out more about HCTF’s GO Grant program at

Thu, 3 Nov 2016
Tags: Education

A Summer with the Birds – Student Shares Her Experiences Working with the Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust


As a follow-up to our video series on the HCTF Summer Internship Program, we received the following article from the Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust (DFWT), written by their 2016 intern, Jennifer Sibbald. Jennifer is the third BCIT student to complete a summer internship with DFWT under this program.

Each morning, from May through July, I was up with the sunrise. It wasn’t that I had trouble sleeping or because I’m naturally an early-riser: I was there for the birds.

In spring, as migrating songbirds travel toward their food-rich breeding grounds, many stop in the productive agricultural lands of Delta, BC. This stop-over results in a flurry of morning activity, known by many as the ‘dawn chorus’. This musical cacophony is the sound of many male birds singing to attract a mate, each with their own unique song. In the birding world, these moments are the perfect time to survey birds, as one can identify them by sight as well as sound.


Though waking at dawn may not be for everyone, it was the perfect way for me to spend a summer. As a student in the Ecological Restoration Program atBritish Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), I jumped at the offer of an internship with Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust (DF&WT). With generous funding from Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF), the City of Surrey, BCIT Rivers Institute, and DF&WT, an internship was created to study the richness (number of species), abundance (number of individuals) and diversity of songbirds using hedgerows planted by DF&WT in Delta, B.C.

In Europe, it is well studied and understood that hedgerows provide many ecological and economic benefits to agricultural landscapes. Hedgerows provide shade for livestock, help reduce soil erosion, give homes to beneficial pollinating insects, and provide necessary breeding habitat for many species of songbirds. DF&WT has long recognized the importance of hedgerow habitats, and has sought to create more of these areas through their ‘ Hedgerow Stewardship Program’. In recent years, DF&WT is initiating some of the first hedgerow studies that I am aware of in British Columbia, including the songbird study I was given the opportunity to be a part of.

Jennifer_S_selfie.jpgIn the spring of 2015, BCIT Ecological Restoration student Arthur Kujawiak began the pilot study focusing on the abundance and diversity of songbirds using DF&WT hedgerows. In 2016, I continued the study to establish a multi-year dataset of the birds using these hedgerows. Additionally, I was empowered by DF&WT to expand the study and ask a few questions of my own. I focused my questioning on whether differences in plant composition of the hedgerows impacted bird communities.

Having been recently immersed in school and ecological theory, I knew that increases in the diversity of plant structure (e.g., different heights) and composition (e.g., different species) typically lead to the increased biodiversity of animals living in an ecosystem. I hypothesized that in hedgerows where plant diversity is greater, we would see a greater diversity of songbirds. From careful study design, data collection, and data summarizing, we found this to be true of DF&WT hedgerows. These findings support the management actions of DF&WT, which strive to plant a diversity of native trees and shrubs along their hedgerows.

After many sunrises, countless hours of data entry, and time spent just listening to the birds, I was able to provide some insight into how songbirds use hedgerows in Delta, BC. As a student, this was a fantastic opportunity ask questions of my own, independently conduct fieldwork, and learn to identify over fifty species of birds by sight and sound! Thanks to the support from DF&WT, HCTF, City of Surrey, and the BCIT Rivers Institute, I have gained invaluable experience for my future as a biologist, and had a summer I will never forget.

A big thank you to Jennifer for sharing her experience with the internship program!