MVFN has taken great strides with its environmental education project over the past few years. Therefore we are pleased to report there is another initiative underway in the local area to broaden the horizons for local children to study nature close to home, and for many without getting on a school bus.
Going Gemmill! is a grassroots approach to outdoor education that utilizes municipal greenspaces and examines how their natural resources can be made accessible and used as a context for teaching existing curriculum taught in local schools. The pilot project in Almonte is being funded through a grant from the Valley Heartland Community Futures Corporation. Nature Works Learning, led by MVFN member Patricia Larkin, is the local local environmental education company using the project to see how parks in various communities in our region could become a living classroom and an integral part of school life. There are dozens of opportunites for science lessons for Grades 1 to Grade 10 to be taught within many park environments. Social science lessons may also be possible.
During the Going Gemmill! pilot project three lesson modules customized to the myriad of environments and resources that exist within Gemmill Park are being developed. Lesson plans and their field testing for Grades 2, 4 and 9 should be completed by the end of February, 2008. They will then be distributed free of charge to area schools to benefit local children and youth and, ultimately, the whole community.
If successful and other funding is secured, up to seven more modules designed for other grade levels would follow. It is thought that these ongoing student visits throughout the park and through different seasons will foster an ever-increasing appreciation and respect for this tremendous local natural resource. Other nearby municipalities also have greenspace with tremendous potential to support environmental education which is also currently being underutilized. Thus, it is hoped this project could be replicated elsewhere for the benefit of residents in other communities.