Current Education Programs
The Prairie Conservation Forum has been committed to prairie education ever since its inception in 1988. It is so important to us that a PCF education committee was created to develop projects specifically aimed towards educating the public about grasslands. Some of our past projects included the development of a senior seminar university course called Topics in Prairie Conservation, which was first offered at the University of Lethbridge in 1998 and is still being offered there today. A Grasslands Education Kit was also developed with the help of Alberta Environment in 2005 for grades 7-9 students, and is still used by many teachers today.
Below, you will see a list of education projects the PCF education committee has embarked on within the last couple of years.
Educational videoconferencing (EDVC) is an educational tool that can be used to ‘take the grasslands to you’. For schools and groups that don’t have the opportunity to travel to a native grassland site, this is the next best thing to actually being there. EDVC allows for direct contact and interaction between the person running the program and the audience, and can easily incorporate professional video segments that bring the grasslands to you.
In 2011, the PCF education committee developed an EDVC presentation called 'Deep Roots: Exploring Alberta's Grassland'. 'Deep Roots' was created to educate youth about the importance of grasslands and aims at giving them a chance to experience these diverse landscapes without leaving their classrooms. The broadcast was piloted in early 2012 with approximately 200 students in 8 schools throughout Alberta participating. In 2014, the program was delivered to 786 students. Feedback has been very positive from both teachers and students.
In 2013, we developed activities to go along with the broadcast. These are split into a pre-broadcast activity and a post-broadcast activity for grades 4/5, and 6/7. They tie into the current Alberta school curriculum, and are meant to introduce the students to definitions/concepts that they will learn about in the broadcast (pre-activities), and to expand on concepts learned during the broadcast (post-activities). If you are interested in booking this program for your students, please contact Heidi Eijgel at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 403-627-1152. This program is being offered free of charge to the first 20 groups to book. In addition, we have tied in our field trips to the Deep Roots Program. Every teacher that completes an evaluation after participating in the Deep Roots Program will be entered into a draw to win $500 towards a grasslands-related field trip. Extra entries into the draw can be gained by submitting proof of completed activities.
PCF and Helen Schuler Nature Center Living Roof Signage
The PCF partnered with the Helen Schuler Nature Center in Lethbridge to develop educational signage and exhibit programming around the 'living roof' component of the newly renovated facility. The living roof features native prairie plants, and combined with educational signs, will help people better appreciate and understand the value of our grasslands and the rich biodiversity found within them.
Grassland Field Trips
The PCF education committee has been interested in holding a grasslands appreciation event on a yearly basis. The purpose of the event is to educate the general public about grasslands and help them develop a sense of place. One way that this can be accomplished is by taking people out to the grasslands and introducing them to the complexities of a grassland ecosystem first-hand. In 2010 and 2011, the PCF had the opportunity to partner with the Helen Schuler Nature Centre’s Community Mapping Project. The purpose of the project was to give participants the opportunity to experience diverse land-use perspectives in Southern Alberta first-hand, form a better understanding of grassland ecosystems and their inherent biodiversity, explore the challenges of balancing economic, social and environmental needs within a community, and to discover how to portray and share their values in creative, collaborative maps. To do this, participants were taken on two-day field trips that visited areas of native grassland within city parks and along the Waterton Park Front. The field trips were very successful, and we received a lot of positive feedback. The PCF education committee is looking to expand the program in the future, and it is our hope that we will be able to offer these field trips throughout the grassland region of southern Alberta.
In 2010, the PCF hosted a group of junior forest rangers from the Blood Reserve to participate in the two-day field trips. The youth were asked to take photos, write down quotes from speakers, and participate in drawing and writing exercises throughout the two days. Their work was compiled into a multi-media program and can be viewed here.
top photo by Carla Koenig | RSS