|The Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club
In these days of trimmed School Board budgets and cancelled enhancement programs in our schools, it is reassuring to know that there are places like the MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre. This facility, funded and staffed by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, has provided Ottawa school children from Kindergarten to Grade 12 with quality education in natural history and outdoor skills since 1967. There are four permanent staff teachers who run outdoor classes. About 23,000 students visit the Centre each year, spending anywhere from a few hours to four days, learning about nature.
Although the Centre is a low-profile affair, their work has not gone unnoticed. It recently received the prestigious Award for Excellence in Environmental Education from the Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication (EECOM). They noted that many former students say that their lives were changed by their experiences at the Centre, either by encouraging them to choose a career in environmental related fields, or simply by showing them how to become a more environmentally responsible citizen.
The Outdoor Centre itself is located in Cumberland on 425 acres of forests, fields and wetlands, with boardwalks to take the students close to the action. In 1969, 254 acres of this property were designated as the Beckett's Creek Migratory Bird Sanctuary by Environment Canada. The children learn about the weather, how to identify trees, what's living in the water, plants and soils, animals in the forest and their interactions, and much more. Among the goals of the program are: increasing knowledge about nature and natural processes, increasing environmental literacy, getting comfortable in the outdoors and simply enjoying the joys of the natural world.
For their many years of exceptional service in teaching natural history to Ottawa area children, the OFNC is proud to present the MacSkimming Outdoor Education Centre and its Site Program Administrator, Kevin Wallace, with the Mary Stuart Education Award for 2010.