Ducks Unlimited Canada

Ducks Unlimited Canada

November 20, 2014 11:22 ET

Investing in Wetland Education

Learning opportunities in nature for more Ontario students

BARRIE, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 20, 2014) - There is no better way to learn about wetland conservation than by getting your hands dirty. Thanks to a $75,332 grant from the State Farm® Youth Advisory Board (YAB), thousands of Ontario students will have the opportunity to do just that as they learn by experience in the great outdoors.

For students in Sir John A. Macdonald Collegiate Institute's Specialist High Skills Major - Environment program, spending an afternoon outside in Toronto's East Don Parklands is nothing new. Their most recent outing on the other hand, brought these young conservationists a whole new experience. A number of the Institute's students were on hand to accept the YAB grant cheque Tuesday, as ambassadors for Ducks Unlimited Canada's (DUC) secondary education initiative, the Wetland Centres of Excellence (WCE) program.

"The Youth Advisory Board is always on the hunt for programs that offer students hands-on, service-learning experiences and the Wetland Centre of Excellence program provides this to a tee," said John Bordignon, Media Relations with State Farm. "State Farm supports initiatives like these because they integrate community service with real world educational curriculum. The Wetland Centre of Excellence program allows students to learn about an integral natural environment while fostering an understanding of civic responsibility."

According to Krystal Hewitt, education specialist for DUC, these funds will equip new and existing WCE's with the supplies and equipment needed to supplement in-class curriculum with action projects and stewardship initiatives. They will also provide transportation subsidies to local wetlands where secondary students will have the opportunity to deliver mentored wetland field trips to elementary classes in their communities.

"This service-learning approach to environmental education provides opportunities for students to connect with nature and develop a sense of ownership and responsibility" says Hewitt. "This program helps students elicit positive change in their communities and local environments, become advocates for the environment and wildlife as well as build character and develop skills to carry forward with them into their lives and future careers".

With support from the the State Farm® Youth Advisory Board, DUC anticipates it will reach 3,000 new students through the WCE program and associated mentored wetland field trips.

"Educating youth about wetlands and waterfowl is a big part of DUC's mission" continues Hewitt. "To protect and sustain the health of precious natural resources like wetlands and watersheds, we need to make sure young people understand conservation concepts and practices. With understanding, comes the enthusiasm, passion and respect required to drive future conservation efforts."

Wetlands like marshes and ponds are the 'workhorses' of our watersheds, providing many environmental services that contribute to human health and economic well-being. Wetlands help to provide a clean, secure water supply by filtering out nutrients and contaminants before they enter our lakes and rivers. They store excess water during extreme weather events and then gradually release it over time, helping to control flooding and drought. Wetlands also fight climate change by storing carbon & other greenhouse gases, and offer tremendous recreation and learning opportunities in nature.

It's shocking that despite all the benefits and ecological services wetlands provide, they continue to be lost. Research shows 72 per cent or 1.4 million hectares, of southern Ontario's large wetlands have been lost or degraded over the last 200 years. In some regions, this loss is more than 90 per cent.

DUC believes the most effective way to reverse this trend is to put in place a strong, province-wide policy for wetlands, to protect and restore them while enabling sustainable economic development. Working together, with government, industry, non-profit organizations and landowners, we can make that happen.

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is the leader in wetland conservation. A registered charity, DUC partners with government, industry, non-profit organizations and landowners to conserve wetlands that are critical to waterfowl, wildlife and the environment. To learn more, please visit ducks.ca.

Contact Information

  • Ducks Unlimited Canada
    Joanne Barbazza
    Communications Specialist, Ontario
    705.721.4444 ext. 240
    j_barbazza@ducks.ca