St. Mary’s look­ing for wildlife ex­perts

Fall Trail­blaz­ers pro­gram seeks peo­ple with out­door skills to teach youth

The Casket - - NAVIGATE ATLANTIC - SAM MAC­DON­ALD sam­mac­don­ald@the­cas­ket.ca

The Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the Dis­trict of St. Mary’s is look­ing for more trail blazers to help raise the next gen­er­a­tion of out­door en­thu­si­asts.

Or­ga­niz­ers of the Trail Blazers pro­gram with the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the Dis­trict of St. Mary’s are as­sem­bling plans for the out­door ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram’s fall sea­son – and are look­ing for vol­un­teers who are able to teach out­door skills for part of a six-week pro­gram run lo­cally in Sher­brooke.

"It’s all about get­ting kids out into na­ture, and help­ing them un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate na­ture more," said Joshua Hil­ton, com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment and recre­ation di­rec­tor with the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the Dis­trict of St. Mary’s. "There are out­door ed­u­ca­tion skills that they might use some­day – it’s built around out­door ed­u­ca­tion."

Hil­ton said each ses­sion has a par­tic­u­lar theme, and fea­tures many or­ga­ni­za­tions and ex­perts from the com­mu­nity. Th­ese in­clude groups like the De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources (DNR) and the St. Mary’s River As­so­ci­a­tion.

"Ba­si­cally, an ex­pert or an or­ga­ni­za­tion will lead a ses­sion or two, and as­sist with show­ing the stu­dents how to do fire build­ing, out­doors skills or even just go for a hike," Hil­ton said.

Themes for the Trail Blazers pro­gram can fea­ture any­thing from iden­ti­fy­ing wild ed­i­bles to sports skills.

Hil­ton em­pha­sized how any­one with any sort of na­ture skill or knowl­edge should feel free to en­quire and be­come part of the pro­gram, adding, "we’ve had peo­ple email us from the com­mu­nity who know a lot about bird watch­ing or an­i­mal iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. We in­vite them to ap­ply and vol­un­teer in the pro­gram."

If the skills of those vol­un­teers are a good fit, Hil­ton said they can meet with the dis­trict, and see if they are able to lead a les­son.

"We try to get vol­un­teers from the com­mu­nity in­volved. If some­one does archery or some­thing like that, we would like them to step for­ward and teach a new skill – any­thing they have skills in, Hil­ton said. "We don’t just want busi­ness and gov­ern­ment en­ti­ties. We want to try and give lo­cal peo­ple a chance to give back to the com­mu­nity through the pro­gram."

The pro­gram is for stu­dents in Grades 4 to 7 and runs in the spring and fall, based in Stonewall Park, in Sher­brooke. This year, the pro­gram is also be­ing opened up to younger par­tic­i­pants in Grades 1 to 3. Each year, Hil­ton said about 15 to 20 stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in the ac­tiv­i­ties.

The pro­gram is gen­er­ally run in Stonewall Park due to its prox­im­ity to the rest of the com­mu­nity in Sher­brooke, the ac­cess to the trails and the fact that it fea­tures and out­door set­ting.

"It’s pretty much got ev­ery­thing we need. It works for us to do it that way. We also have other op­tions out that way, with our beaches, and vast amount of land and rivers out there."

In­ter­ested?

If you have an out­door skill and are look­ing to vol­un­teer for the Trail Blazers pro­gram, con­tact Joshua Hil­ton at 902 522 2598, or at jo­sua.hil­ton@saint-marys.ca

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