Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Cliff Bennett
April 25, 2005

Field Naturalists Score Big-time With Environmental Education

In September of 2000, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) embarked on a bold new initiative to bring environmental education to youth in this area. Not having the people resources to carry out a junior naturalists programme, the MVFN Board of Directors at the time decided the best approach was to raise funds in support of existing groups with their own leadership such as schools, Scouts and Guides.

A committee was struck to manage the programme, entitled Environmental Education Projects Programme (EEPP). Its mandate is to assist financially with environmental education project-based programs in our area schools and youth groups, by helping to fund project costs and materials not adequately covered in existing budgets.

To fund the cost of the EEPP, MVFN organized several fund-raising activities including two gala events featuring key speakers, a dinner and silent auction. In addition, sponsorships for the programme were sought from the Community Stewardship Council of Lanark County, Mississippi Valley Conservation Rural Clean Water Project, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. As a result of its efforts, MVFN has provided to date over $10,000 to support projects within its membership area of Lanark Highlands, Mississippi Mills, Carleton Place and Beckwith and surrounding area.

Trillium FoundationA recent Ontario Trillium Foundation three year grant has enabled MVFN to continue with stable funding for the next two years. With additional fund-raising activities and other sponsorships, the group hopes to fund another $10,000 worth of activities through until 2007. At the present time, due to the popularity of the programme, all 2004/05 funds have been allocated and MVFN has had to defer some applicants to the next year’s budget.

Three key programmes are being offered this financial year. The Eastern Ontario Biodiversity Museum, through its presenter Andrea Howard, is offering Museum in a Suitcase units covering many diverse topics on Biodiversity . A new company from Barrie Ontario, Paul’s Critters, uses live small animals to illustrate to grades one to six children how animals adapt to their environment. These two programmes are geared to classroom settings and the later is offered only during Education Week, the first week in May.

Also appearing during Education week is an exciting demonstration of live raptors presented by The Canadian Raptor Conservancy, from Vittoria Ontario. This group will use several of these birds of prey to educate children on the importance of raptors in the scheme of our natural world. EEPP has been able to fund this show, presented in school gymnasiums, for four area schools during Education Week.

MVFN Coordinator of the EEPP programme is Janine deSalaberry, supported by former MVFN president Cliff Bennett. Applications for programmes are submitted in writing to Ms. deSalaberry and the committee processes and approves recommendations for funding. “The EEPP initiative is a very progressive step forward in meeting the mandate of the Field Naturalists”, stated Mike Macpherson, President of MVFN. “It (the programme) is the best way possible for us to involve young people in learning what nature is all about”.

For further information on EEPP, contact Janine at 256-7292. To learn all about MVFN, call up its website at

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Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Mike McPhail
February 20, 2005

Canada’s Next David Suzuki in Local School?

Andrea Howard with TarantulaAttendees at Mississippi Valley Field Naturalist’s 5th lecture on Biodiversity on Feb. 17, were awed by the shear magnitude and quality of educational material’s and teaching techniques that Andrea Howard, from the Eastern Ontario Biodiversity Museum in Kemptville and speaker for the evening, incorporates into the ” Museum in a Suitcase Program”. This exciting interactive, and hands on program brings environmental education into the classrooms of our local schools.

Introduced by MVFN host Janine deSalaberry, Andrea Howard explained many people believe that our relationship with nature is forged in childhood. This was certainly the case with David Suzuki, who developed a real love of nature through father-son camping and fishing trips. Programmes such as Andrea Howard’s bring that outdoor environmental experience right into the children’s world of the classroom.

Could one of our own local children become a leading environmentalist & educator like Canadian David Suzuki? That is certainly a dream and aspiration shared by both Andrea Howard and the MVFN who, through it’s granting programme, help to fund local environmental education initiatives like the “Museum in a Suitcase Program”.

Ms. Howard showed how the programme starts by presenting our children with the known natural world knowledge building blocks and then encouraging them to question the infinity of existing scientific knowledge. Equally important she pointed out is to convey to them that they can play an important role in the world and that each generation has a responsibility to aspire to do a better job than the previous one in our important role of stewards of the land.

Children have much to teach us about maintaining a sense of wonder and respect for the natural world, said Howard. “Listening to them may help us regain the perspective we often lose in the bustle and din of our artificial urban environment. Take the time to incorporate outdoor family recreation into your busy schedules because time spent in the outdoors forges lifelong relationships with nature.”

At the end of her talk, Andrea was joined by MVFN member Franziska von Rosen of Pinegrove productions and presented MVFN with a peak of selected footage of “Our Incredible World”; a dramatic and multimedia resource series on biodiversity based on the pan-Canadian Life Sciences curriculum.

Mark your calendars for MVFN’s 6th Biodiversity lecture entitled “Lichens: an overlooked and threatened aspect of biodiversity,” by Dr I. Brodo of the Canadian Museum of Nature, to be held on Thursday March 17th at the Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St. at 7:30 pm. If you are not yet a member of the MVFN, this may be a good time to join. For further information, please contact MVFN Programme Chair Tine Kuiper, 256-8241 or consult our web site:

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Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
November 19, 2004

$15,000 Grant Helps Field Naturalists Continue To Grow Awareness  

Trillium FoundationMississippi Mills – Environmental programs for young people in our community received a boost today with the news that the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) have received a three-year $15,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). Joining MVFN president Michael MacPherson and MVFN education director Janinne de Salaberry, for the grant announcement at R.Tait McKenzie Public School in Almonte were Lanark-Carleton MPP Norm Sterling and Donna Davidson of the OTF. Also present were teacher Neil Carleton, who has used MVFN programmes in the past and students Ray Robertson and Melissa Timmins who have both been participants.

“This funding investment supports an innovative program that is designed to help local students learn more about their natural surroundings,” Sterling said. “I have no doubt it will create greater interest in science and nature, providing an adventurous educational experience for many young minds in our area.”

In a statement from Michael MacPherson, he noted “Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists strive to make today’s youth good stewards of the lands they will one day inherit. This grant from the OTF will enable our organization to continue to provide environmental education programs for schools and youth groups in north Lanark County, Carleton Place and Beckwith.”

In 2003, MVFN linked forces with the Eastern Ontario Biodiversity Museum to deliver an exciting new, curriculum-oriented program called Museum in a Suitcase. This program, divided into five key components related to biodiversity, is delivered to elementary and secondary classrooms as well as area youth groups by a qualified teacher, complete with suitcases full of hands-on material. Stable funding for this education initiative will enable MVFN to serve at least 390 students and teachers each year by providing at least twenty-five Museum in a Suitcase units in addition to helping fund at least two field trips and provide at least three special in-class presenters.

MVFN’s Environmental Education Projects Program (EEPP), coordinated by Janinne Salaberry, has been active since 2001 and projects funded to date have included field trips to outdoor centres and science museums, teacher manuals on endangered species and other nature educational materials. EEPP will also fund special speakers, special equipment, library books and any other aspects of environmental education.

Teachers and youth leaders can apply now to get involved with this unique environmental learning opportunity. For further information on MVFN programs, please contact Mrs. de Salaberry by phone at 256-7292 or by fax 256-6625.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Ministry of Culture, receives annually $100 million of government funding generated through Ontario’s charity casino initiative.

For more information on EEPP or MVFN , please call: Cliff Bennett 256-5013 or for more information on this event, please call office of Mr. Norm Sterling, 253-1171

Present for MVFN photo Trillium Grant Presentation held at R.Tait McKenzie Elementary School, Almonte, on Friday, November 19, 2004

Present for MVFN photo Trillium Grant Presentation held at R.Tait McKenzie Elementary School, Almonte, on Friday, November 19, 2004 

Left to right:

Ray Robertson, student, R.Tait McKenze Elemtary School
Neil Carleton, Teacher , R.Tait MacKenzie Elementary School
Janine deSalaberry, MVFN Director, Environmental Education Projects Programme (EEPP)
Norm Sterling, MPP
Michael MacPherson, President, MVFN
Donna Davidson, Trillium Foundation
Melissa Timmins, student, R.Tait MacKenzie Elementary School

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Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by: Cliff Bennett
January 27, 2004

EEPP Launches New Partnership

Eastern Ontario Biodiversity MuseumMVFN and our Environmental Education Projects Programme (EEPP) has entered into a contract with the Eastern Ontario Biodiversity Museum to supply an exciting new programme to schools in our membership area. Living up to our motto of “Proud Sponsors of Environmental Education”, we are very pleased to support financially this programme entitled Museum in a Suitcase.

The Museum in a Suitcase programme comprises of five strains of curriculum-based biodiversity topics entitled Secret Life of the Forest-The Biodiversity of Decomposition; Climate Change-Biodiversity and Global Warming; Life Cycles and Seasonal Adaptations-The Biodiversity of Survival; Bugwatch/Insecta-The Biodiversity of Insects and Introduction to Taxonomy-The Classification of Biodiversity. Each strain is divided into grade-specific units and can cover all grades from K to Gr.12, where applicable. As the title suggest, this is a very “hands-on” type of education.

Up until now, EEPP grants awarded by MVFN have been for taking children out of the classroom for environmental education. Other than providing each school a copy of a teacher manual of lessons on Species at Risk, this is the first, and a very welcome and exciting opportunity, of bringing environmental education into the classroom.

The programme is delivered to the classrooms by the museum’s Educational Coordinator Andrea Howard. Andrea brings to the project twelve years as a classroom educator and holds a unique background in science, drama and environmental advocacy, attributes which add great enrichment to the topics.

Coordinator of our EEPP programme is MVFN Board member Janine deSallaberry. Janine processes applications from the schools and coordinates with Ms. Howard. Project units so far, have been delivered to Maple Grove Public School in Lanark, Pakenham Public School, Arklan Public School in Carleton Place and Naismith and R.Tait McKenzie Public Schools in Lanark.

The cost of units, including promotion and delivery, range from $100 to $250 each, depending upon how many presentations and units are delivered at one time. These costs are fully funded by EEPP.

Funding for this programme comes from grants provided by the Stewardship Council of Lanark County and the Mississippi Valley Clean Water Programme plus MVFN fund-raising initiatives.

For more information or for applications, contact Janine deSalaberry, 256-7292 or Cliff Bennett 256-5013.

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Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
14th August 2003

EEPP Grant Helps MM Student Trip to Montreal

Photo credit: Montreal Biodome websitePenguins seemed to be the favourite attraction for 63 students from Naismith Memorial Public School and their 25 parent and teacher supervisors as they explored the Natural History
Biodome in Montreal on May 2. The group progressed through educational experiences in four different biodomes, tropical, polar, forest and marine.

The field trip was organized by teacher Lee Ann Lyons, who applied for and received an Environmental Education Project (EEPP) grant from MVFN. As a follow-up project, the children produced a well organized and informative booklet on their experiences.

Included in the booklet were individual student short essays on their personal learning experiences, supplemented by photographs, artwork and pictures. Ben Reside was fascinated by the winter flounder which swam sideways but had both eyes on the one side. Descriptions of the four species of penguins presented were written by Jessica Smith and Jimmy Schonauer learned about sea urchins and their life in high water and in tidal pools.

The booklet was presented to MVFN as the required project completion report. It was reviewed by the Board of Directors at their August meeting and all comments expressed wonderment at the quality of work put into the publication and of the environmental learning that seemed to have taken place.

Mrs. Lyons concluded with special tanks to MVFN for their financial support. She reported the trip as one of quality with excellent learning opportunities for all.

Click here to visit the Biodome website.

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