As nature lovers – naturalists, scientists and student researchers – we have long recognized the need to “grow” the next generation of naturalists. It is our role to assist young people to understand and gain a passion for nature.
The formation of NatureKids BC (formerly the Young Naturalists’ Club of BC) is an inspiration and an important opportunity for families to connect with nature from a young age. Now we see some of the original child members entering adulthood and becoming Naturalists and Scientists and contributing scientific research, monitoring species and participating in conservation of habitat. The winner of the 2014 BC Nature, Rene Savenye Scholarship is a case in point.
Looking at what BC Nature Clubs are doing around the province, it is impressive how many of our members are sharing their knowledge by mentoring young people in different ways:
(1) Teachers and students in the classroom;
Mentoring students in the classroom:
Teachers do not have time to support individual students and their outdoor projects, while parents may find they do not have the necessary information to help their children. Here the mentor can work with the teacher and also support individual students as they work on their classroom projects. Where possible, parents can be involved and may also become engaged in nature too. Once connections are made, they may even join the local Naturalists’ Club! for further information please contact:
Margaret Cuthbert, Education Chair, BC Nature, tel: 604.536.2636, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(2) Children and parents on Explorer Day field trips with their local NatureKids BC Club.
Mentoring NatureKids Explorer Day field trips
There are NatureKids Family Clubs throughout BC for children 5 to 12 years, and their parents. (http://www.naturekidsbc.ca/p/my-club_3.html)
Volunteer NatureKids Club Leaders organize monthly Explorer Day field trips, exploring all aspects of nature in their area, preferably outdoors but indoors, e.g. labs, hatcheries, etc. when the weather is bad.
While all the leaders are passionate about sharing nature with children, no individual has a sufficient breadth of knowledge to cover all the amazing possibilities for local nature exploration. Mentors with expertise in various aspects of natural history can tremendously assist Club Leaders. All the organizing for the Explorer Days is done by volunteer leaders, the mentors are honoured and much appreciated guests who are willing to share their passion with the children.
For details, go to the website www.naturekidsbc.ca/p/volunteer.html and scroll down to Mentors; Here you will find details on what is involved and how to volunteer or Contact:
Tammy Keetch, Clubs Coordinator, NatureKids BC, email@example.com
Mentoring Science Fair candidates
You can make all the difference by connecting with a local school and the participating Science Fair teacher(s) and offer to mentor one or more students with their nature-based project. Here is your opportunity to share local, nature experience and assist a young person to develop a meaningful project. The time commitment to assist in mentorship of students for their Science Fair project is from December to April, (judging and awards in April) about 3.5 months.
We believe this is a great opportunity to assist and share nature knowledge with youth over a short period. You can encourage their monitoring of plants, turtles, frogs, bees, birds, bats and species at risk or encourage their participation in an aspect of Streamkeeping, Shorekeeping or wetlands monitoring or encourage an invasive removal and/or planting project.
Sometimes we hesitate to take on further responsibilities or participate in programs that require a long term commitment but mentoring provides short-term opportunities to enjoy sharing your knowledge of nature with youth. Please consider volunteering for this important Naturalists as Mentors Program.