Learning in the classroom is an essential and time-honored aspect of the educational experience. We have all sat in the classroom, working on our writing and math, looking out the window – on a beautiful day, wondering what was happening outside. Well one beautiful day in May we decided to take the classroom outside to Dundas Valley Conservation Area for some much need experiential learning.
For as long as I have taught with HWDSB I have been venturing out to Dundas Valley Conservation Area to work with my friends Beth Stormont of the Hamilton Conservation Authority and Sandy Root of Down to Earth Environmental Education. My very first experience teaching in the natural environment was with Sandy. We began working together way back in 1996 when I was hired by her as a camp counselor for Canterbury Hills Camp. Her message has always been consistent – ‘learn and explore the world in which we live.’ She has always discussed the need to learn about natural habits and the need to conserve them for future generations.
In school we can learn about the science and biology of animals through text books. We can learn about conservation and the need to reduce our environmental footprint by watching documentaries, but until you smell, see, and touch the beauty of the environment around you it’s difficult to fully understand and put into practice true environmental stewardship.
When we arrived on May 8 we greeted by Sandy and visited the new classroom found next door to Dundas Valley Trail Center. We had the opportunity to view various specimens and artifacts. We spent a great deal of time learning about the breeding grounds of salamanders and the importance of protecting their habits. Our lesson culminated in venturing to the small vernal pools where we conducted a salamander rescue project and the results were inspiring…