Op-ed by Nadine Ives

There is nothing quite like that back-to-school feeling.


But what if you could capture the freedom of summer days, the exploration of experimenting and learning outside, year round?

New Brunswick is home to a dedicated and innovative group of outdoor nature educators who know how to teach, outside.

The educators behind the Great Minds Think Outside program of the New Brunswick Environmental Network (NBEN) come from a broad range of backgrounds and disciplines, and they know their stuff. These educators know, for example, that a child who learns outside reaps benefits in physical, mental, emotional, and social development, in addition to improved academic outcomes. Math? Plot a graph of the plants found in different areas of the playground. Group objects found in nature according to colour, shape and texture.

Science and climate change? Measure temperature, rain, and snowfall and track changes over time.  Observe the life cycle of frogs in a local wetland.

Literacy? Write a story imagining a day in the life of a bug, or a tree. Use adjectives to describe the clouds.

Sometimes those who struggle in the classroom blossom when given opportunities to learn outside - and pretty well everyone loves exploring outdoors.

So it is good news that as teachers, parents and students across the province head back to class for another school year, our team of outdoor nature educators is gearing up for another season of helping teachers connect their students to the wealth of learning opportunities just outside their classroom walls. After all, in New Brunswick, nature is never far from our doorstep.

Since 2015, the Great Minds Think Outside team has visited more than 40 schools across the province to help teachers make lessons leap off the page and come alive before students' eyes in the outdoors.

The training sessions are activity-filled opportunities for teachers to experience for themselves the excitement of taking curriculum outside to see how effective it is for making memories full of important learning moments that will stay with children for years.

The activities can be adapted for any subject area, tying memorable hands-on experiential learning opportunities to the important skills and development goals outlined in the provincial curriculum. As one teacher from Sackville's Salem Elementary School said after taking the training, "this is the future of education." Many teachers who've participated in Great Minds Think Outside sessions say it is a fantastic way to reach kids who just learn better by doing, while reinforcing lessons learned previously inside the classroom. One teacher from a recent session put it best: "The more senses involved, the more movement and positive experiences, the better the learning." After taking a lesson outside, students return to the classroom with more focus and creativity, stronger recall and memory, and are better at problem-solving and working cooperatively with classmates. And it's not just the children who benefit. Teaching outside gives teachers a renewed enthusiasm for their work and promotes more innovative teaching strategies. A teacher who takes the class outside for a science lesson suddenly starts seeing ways to connect it to math, language arts, social studies and more. Talk to your child's teacher about inviting the Great Minds Think Outside team to your school. You can book a session by contacting Pascale Ouellette, the Education and Outreach Programs Coordinator with the New Brunswick Environmental Network, at 506-855-4144 or by emailing nben@nben.ca. Learn more about the program at www.nben.ca/greatminds.

Let's make sure that this year, at more and more schools across the province, going back to class does not mean going back inside!

Nadine I
ves, The Learning Outside Coordinator for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and a founding member of the New Brunswick Environmental Network's Great Minds Think Outside program.

Learning Outside Nov2016 75

Spotlight

Blog

Seeking Proposals for Website and Database Development

Thursday, 18 January 2018
by Annika Chiasson
The NBEN is seeking proposals for:

1. Updated look for Our Website
2. On-line interactive Risks & Benefits Calculator (plus Appendix)

Proposals are due January 29, 2018.

National Spotlight on Moncton

Monday, 27 November 2017
by Raissa Marks
The NBEN is pleased to be the local host partner for EconoUs 2018, the annual conference of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network, which is coming to Moncton in September 2018.
ECONOUS LOGOS 2018 w tag

With a focus on green community economic development, EconoUs 2018 will feature leading speakers, engaging sessions, and tailored networking opportunities about People (inclusive communities), Planet (sustainable environments), and Economy (local prosperity) and how these things, together, create an economy that works for all.Who or what should be included in the agenda?  Let the planning committee know here:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/V2QXMY2

Upcoming Events


Nature Moncton February Meeting
Tue, Feb 20th, 2018
Moncton

Film: We Carry Each Others Memories
Wed, Feb 21st, 2018
Fredericton,

Atelier de fabrication de nichoirs pour les hirondelles bicolores
Wed, Feb 21st, 2018
Cap-Pelé

Action Alerts

Conserve Our NB

Friday, 09 February 2018
by Nature Trust of New Brunswick

For countless generations, people in New Brunswick have cherished the wildlife and beauty of their natural surroundings. We have adopted many deeply rooted outdoor traditions that take us to the rivers, lakes, wetlands, forests, and coastlines of our beautiful province in all seasons of the year. Help protect the wild places that you love so that your family, children, and grandchildren will be able to enjoy them forever.

Over 95% of New Brunswick is currently unprotected and open to exploitation that could harm wildlife and damage the natural beauty of our province, and we need to act now to change that.

Through the Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada has signed on to conserve 17% of land and freshwater by 2020.  As Canadians, it is our shared responsibility to hold the government accountable to achieving this target. The Nature Trust of New Brunswick is urging you to speak out to your provincial representatives to declare your support for increased land conservation in the province, and encourage them to set set their own conservation goals for the province and develop an action plan to achieve these goalsThrough Pathway to Canada Target 1, an Indigenous Circle of Experts (ICE) has been identified to ensure all elements of the initiative are guided by Indigenous experts across Canada, which should be reflected in New Brunswick’s efforts as well.

A vast majority of Canadians agree that protecting the environment is one of the most important issues currently facing our country. In a recent national conservation survey, 87% of Canadians support increasing the amount of natural areas protected from development, including at national parks. Join the growing movement of people who are speaking out in support of land conservation.

We’ve made it easy for you to take action! It takes less than a minute with our online template to send a letter to your local MLA. To learn more about what you can do to support land conservation, download the Conserve Our NB toolkit.  

Printable pledge link: http://www.naturetrust.nb.ca/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Conserve-Our-NB-Pledge.pdf  Please help by joining the movement and collecting signatures from your corner of the province to show support for increased land and freshwater protection in NB. 

Please return pledge sheets with original signatures to the Nature Trust of New Brunswick office.
Next Deadline: March 13, 2018

By mail:
P.O. Box 603 Station A,
Fredericton, NB, E3B 5A6 

In person: 404 Queen St. 3rd floor,
Fredericton, NB

Have your say on Draft Water Strategy!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017
by Conservation Council of New Brunswick
A Water Strategy for New Brunswick

On October 6, 2017, the department of Environment and Local Government released a draft water strategy for comments. The draft strategy is available on the government website. Comments can be submitted by email to: waterstrategy-strategiedeleau@gnb.ca or by mail to: Department of Environment and Local Government, Policy and Planning Division, P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, N.B., E3B 5H1. Comments will be accepted until November 20, 2017.

In order to help groups with their submissions, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, in cooperation with watershed groups, has put together key elements of a watershed strategy and a sample letter to send to the Department.

Summary​ ​of​ ​8​ ​Key​ ​Elements​ ​of​ ​a​ ​Strong​ ​Water​ ​Protection​ ​Strategy

New​ ​Brunswick​ ​deserves​ ​a​ ​water​ ​protection​ ​strategy​ ​that:
    1. is​​ ​​science-based;​ ​(involving​ ​baseline​ ​data,​ ​tracking​ ​and​ ​taking​ ​into​ ​consideration cumulative​ ​impacts,​ ​environmental​ ​flows)
    2. sets​ ​water​ ​quality​ ​standards​ ​within​ ​a​ ​working,​ ​legal​ ​mechanism;
    3. conserves​ ​all​ ​water​ ​within​ ​​watersheds​ ​including​ ​surface​ ​waters​ ​(lakes,​ ​streams,​ ​rivers) and​ ​groundwater,​ ​by​ ​developing​ ​good​ ​conservation​ ​plans,​ ​policies​ ​and​ ​practices,​ ​and uses​ ​the​ ​precautionary​ ​principle​ ​as​ ​a​ ​guiding,​ ​legally​ ​enforceable​ ​tool;
    4. protects​ ​our​ ​marine​ ​coastal​ ​areas​ ​in​ ​law;
    5. has​ ​a​ ​meaningful​ ​form​ ​of​ ​​co-governance​ ​with​ ​First​ ​Nations;
    6. includes​ ​the​ ​development,​ ​implementation​ ​and​ ​enforcement​ ​of​ ​watershed​ ​protection plans,​ ​developed​ ​in​ ​a​ ​transparent​ ​manner,​ ​involving​ ​government,​ ​businesses,​ ​watershed organizations,​ ​farmers,​ ​municipal​ ​officials,​ ​and​ ​citizens;
    7. is​ ​accountable,​ ​which​ ​includes​ ​ongoing​ ​monitoring​ ​and​ ​annual​ ​reporting​ ​to​ ​the​ ​public​ ​on the​ ​progress​ ​of​ ​goals​ ​and​ ​objectives​ ​outlined​ ​in​ ​the​ ​water​ ​protection​ ​strategy;​ ​and,
    8. is​​ ​enforceable​ ​through​ ​a​ ​modern​ ​legal​ ​framework
Sample Letter
 My name is ______, and I am writing to express my support for a strong Water Strategy in New Brunswick.

I live near ______ OR I live in ___________ watershed

Describe your favourite spot to fish/swim/paddle etc.

Share your favourite water memory.

Clean, healthy water is important to me because _____________.

Have you recently experienced a boil water order? Blue-green algae? Extreme weather? Describe what is of concern to you.

I applaud the provincial government for moving forward on its commitment to protecting our water; however I believe the draft strategy does not go far enough to ensure healthy water for my watershed.

We need a water protection strategy that (Insert one or multiple key elements).

I am afraid that if left unattended, my watershed will face ongoing and increasing treats from (pollution, wetland and coastal estuary loss, loss of adequate environmental flow to sustain aquatic life, and increasing climate change impacts such as floods, droughts, and high temperatures.)

Please protect my watershed by implementing a strong water protection strategy with modern legislation that (note key element(s)) to ensure the health of our water and people.

Thank you,
Your name.

For more information, visit the CCNB's website.