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Sunday October 5th, 2014

Posted at 11:00am

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GECDSB Director Erin Kelly, Trustee Jane Sparrow, ERCF Executive Director Richard Wyma, donor Eric Naylor, WECSB Superintendent John Ulicny, Begley Principal Mark Rinaldi-Ross and ERCA Chair Joe Bachetti join Begley Elementary Students to launch the Nature in Education lottery.

The Essex Region Conservation Authority and Essex Region Conservation Foundation have teamed up to ensure that all students in the region have the opportunity to connect with nature and experience curriculum-based outdoor education programs through the ‘Nature in Education’ lottery, which was launched at Begley Elementary School Friday.

“Outdoor education provides a unique, hands-on learning environment to allow children to interact with nature,” explained Joe Bachetti, ERCA Chair and principal of St. William’s Catholic Elementary School. “Recognizing that some schools may not have the financial resources available to participate in these programs, our Foundation launched a fundraising campaign to cover the cost of this field trip – up to $500, including bussing.”

The funds to support this lottery were raised by the Conservation Foundation. “As a child, I spent my days exploring the natural environment,” said donor Eric Naylor. “My family and I are honoured to support ERCA’s Nature in Education program to provide a sense of wonder and excitement to children in our communities.”

Since 1980, more than 300,000 students in our region have been introduced to nature in education. All programs are designed to meet the teaching objectives of the Ontario Curriculum. Research compiled by the Children and Nature Network and others confirms that outdoor education also has benefits beyond environmental and childhood health.

Officials state that outdoor education experiences result in improved classroom behaviour, increased student motivation and enthusiasm to learn, better performance in math, science, reading and social studies; reduced ADHD, and higher scores on standardized testing. These benefits are especially apparent for children with physical, emotional or behavioural difficulties.

The lottery is open to all grades 2 to 5 classes deemed eligible by their respective Boards. To receive their lottery ballot, the class applying for the funding must complete an environmental project in their school. Examples could include a schoolyard cleanup, a poster project geared at encouraging peers to care for the Earth, a schoolyard or public tree planting event – students are limited only by their imagination. Once the project has been documented and the application completed, the class will be entered into the lottery. The number of winners will be based on the funds raised during each annual campaign.

“We extend our sincere appreciation to all of our donors, as it is with their on-going support and assistance where we can continue to improve our lasting sustainability for this region,” Richard Wyma, Executive Director, Essex Region Conservation Foundation.

To sponsor a class, donors can select a level of support that fits their interest at www.ourgreenlegacy.org/educate . Information regarding the lottery will be mailed to all eligible schools this week, or interested classes can contact ERCA.

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