Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Field Naturalists Score Big-time With Environmental Education

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 www.mvfn.ca.