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.

Past projects included:

  • Topics in Prairie Conservation –  a senior seminar university course  which was first offered at the University of Lethbridge in 1998 and is still being offered there today.
  • A Grasslands Education Kit – developed in 2005 with the help of Alberta Environment. Focused on educating grades 7-9 students about the importance of graslands.
  • Deep Roots

Below, you will see a list of education projects the PCF education committee has embarked on within the last couple of years.

Photo by Gordon Court

Deep Roots – Educational Videoconferencing

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 email albertadeeproots@gmail.com.

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.

Living Roof Prairie Seasons Sign

Photo By Katheryn Taylor

Alberta Grasslands poster

The Grasslands Education Kit

The intent of the kit is to provide resource material focused at increasing students’ awareness, understanding, and appreciation for the native grassland ecosystem of Alberta. Students will be introduced to the history, biology, geography and even the economics of the grasslands. They will discover the diversity and value of life provided by our grasslands.

A complete Grasslands Education Kit includes:

  • Poster Front (Illustration) – The illustration is designed to introduce students to the flora, fauna, landscape features and human impact associated with the grasslands environment. It illustrates ecological relationships that occur and the effect of human intervention on the grasslands habitat.
  • Poster Back (Content and Activities) – The activities and information on the poster back can be used in combination with the poster front. The activities connect to the sections outlined in the Teacher’s Guide.
  • Activity Masters: All the information on the poster back can be duplicated in unlimited quantities for non-profit educational use.
  • Teacher’s Guide: The Teacher’s Guide provides background information, discussion questions and additional activities. The guide supplements the material presented in the poster.
Download Grasslands Teacher Guide

Students will be introduced to 5 major areas of study related to Grasslands.

  • Features and Characteristics
  • Geological and Historical Connection
  • Biodiversity of Living Things
  • Human Impact
  • Management and Conservation

Past Project – 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.

Yucca Moth Gordon Court

Photo By Gordon Court