The impact of outdoor education

With the school year coming to a close, Sierra Club BC’s outdoor education team shares their highlights and reflections


The 2022/23 school year has come to a close! In looking back, this year was filled with so many memorable moments: we formed new relationships, participated in inspiring conversations, visited new learning communities, and built more bug homes than we could have ever imagined.

Since 1998 we have offered a variety of free environmental education workshops directly in your community – in your classroom, school yard, homeschool neighbourhood, or a local outdoor space. We are grateful for yet another year of doing this work. Without your support, it would not be possible!

Our environmental education programs are designed to offer experiential learning opportunities that centre diverse ecological and cultural knowledges. They are deeply rooted in the principle that empowering and educating youth is vital to stewarding abundant ecosystems and a stable climate—as well as building resilient, equitable communities.  As we respond to deepening environmental crises, our programing becomes increasingly important!

Your support has allowed us to…

  • Increase our service to reach more learners across BC – particularly in underserviced, urban neighbourhoods and remote communities. This year, we delivered over 300 in-person, outdoor workshops and 4 Learn to Draw Webinars. Through this work, we reached over 9,000 people from more than 25 different BC cities and school districts! These include the North Island, qathet regional district (formerly Powell River), Burnaby, Haida Gwaii, and Surrey (just to name a few).
  • Deepen efforts to incorporate invited local Indigenous traditional knowledges and connections into the learning process; through collaboration and reciprocal relationship building.
  • Increase access to professional development opportunities and resources in place-based environmental education for formal and non-formal educators across the province (including online resources).  We ran 5 Pro-D workshops for both formal and non-formal teachers with over 100 participants!
  • Fill gaps in environmental education and build capacity for learners to consider their relationships with the many beings just outside their doors in a different way, emphasizing their responsibilities towards stewardship.

Hear from teachers we worked with!

Here’s what our community had to say about our work this year:

“One of the best presentations I have seen in a very long time. Super engaging, uplifting and inspirational for all age levels.” – Kindergarten teacher in SD 61 (Victoria)

“This was a wonderful experience for our learners to be a part of. Most children love being outdoors and often as non-Indigenous educators, we are not comfortable with teaching Indigenous lessons or taking the risk to be outside of the classroom due to time constraints and having to cover “curriculum” in the traditional sense. This experience opened my eyes to a new pathway that I can structure my teaching so that learners are still learning the lessons they need to with a place-based focus.” – Grade 1 teacher in SD 39 (Vancouver)

“Having others share their knowledge and perspectives on nature helps me and my students grow in our own understandings and builds on our connection with our place where we live and learn. It was so amazing to sit on the ground with my students, not caring about the dirt and learning along with them.” – Kindergarten teacher in SD 41 (Burnaby)

“My students learned more in the hour with Sierra Club BC’s program and from our knowledgeable presenter than they would have with just me teaching. Now I feel more prepared to teach place-based science and get outside more often with my group.” – Grade 3/4 teacher in SD 61 (Victoria)

“Our youth are our future and the future of the earth. The younger we have them caring about the environment, the more likely change will occur.” – Grade 6/7 teacher in SD 39 (Vancouver)

We are looking forward to another great year of collaboration, engagement, learning, and more with the many learning communities that we serve. Your generosity and ongoing support (financial or otherwise) is what allows us to continue moving forward with this work, being a pebble in a pond that sends out ripples of change in the water for the next generations.

Featured image by Mya Van Woudenberg.