He­len Schuler’s Ju­nior Naturalists pro­gram re­mains a long time favourite

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Alberta - BY HEATHER CAMERON

The He­len Schuler Na­ture Cen­tre has of­fered the Ju­nior Naturalists Pro­gram to the com­mu­nity since it opened in 1982.

“Ju­nior Naturalists is a drop-in pro­gram for chil­dren ages 6 to 10, avail­able most Satur­day morn­ings from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Na­ture Cen­tre,” ex­plained Cur­tis Good­man, Re­source De­vel­op­ment Co­or­di­na­tor for the He­len Schuler Na­ture Cen­tre. “Since the Na­ture Cen­tre opened in 1982, we have been of­fer­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams for youth and fam­i­lies.”

Good­man says that the Ju­nior Naturalists Pro­gram is for chil­dren ages six to 10 and pro­vides a mix of ac­tiv­i­ties on sea­sonal top­ics to help build con­fi­dence in spend­ing time out­side and un­der­stand­ing the world.

The pur­pose of the pro­gram, Good­man noted, is to learn about lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment and an­i­mals; have chil­dren ex­plore the out­side world; and build con­fi­dence in spend­ing time out­side.

“Our Pro­gram Leader sets the pro­gram top­ics. Top­ics are picked based on what is typ­i­cally seen dur­ing that time of year and helps par­tic­i­pants to un­der­stand sea­sonal changes we see out­side,” Good­man said.

The Septem­ber sched­ule in­cludes study­ing skunks on Septem­ber 8 and 15 and study­ing the Birds of Prey on Septem­ber 22 and 29. Good­man says a mix of in­door and out­door ac­tiv­i­ties that help to build con­fi­dence in spend­ing time out­side are in­cluded in each class with most of the time be­ing spent out­side ex­plor­ing the Na­ture Re­serve Park.

Good­man em­pha­sized in­volve­ment in the Ju­nior Naturalists Pro­gram re­ally in­stills a life­long re­la­tion­ship with the out­doors by fos­ter­ing cu­rios­ity and pro­vid­ing men­tor­ship. The pro­gram, he says, also helps par­tic­i­pants to de­velop a strong con­nec­tion with na­ture and pro­gram par­tic­i­pants re­mem­ber the pro­gram for many years af­ter­wards.

Spend­ing time out­side is a fun­da­men­tal re­quire­ment for a healthy child­hood!” Good­man said. “We go out­side rain or shine all year-round, There are al­ways ac­tiv­i­ties out­side, so be sure to dress for the weather; bring a hat, a wa­ter bot­tle, and a friend.”

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