Editor’s Note: Happy Earth Day. This morning we are excited to help launch the 10th annual Robert Bateman Get To Know Contest – helping kids across the country get to know more about the wildlife and biodiversity of this great country as well as understand the impact that we have on that space.
Olga Efimova and the team from the Get To Know Program are here today to introduce you to the contest. The contest is open to any Canadian youth age 19 and younger.
OBE is pleased to serve as a national partner for this year’s events as we continue our work to help kids and families discover nature and get back outside. As a part of celebrations, you can bring the family out to the Earth Day Family Fest at Simms Park on Saturday where OBE will be helping young people in the community create a Biodiversity Mural in the spirit of the Robert Bateman Get To Know Contest, which will then be sent to the Robert Bateman Society.
Hope you enjoy a lovely Earth Day!
Point a child in the direction of dirt, water, trees, creatures and a chance to learn about nature through their own discovery and you open a child up to a whole new world.
Knowing more about nature is indeed important, but adding the chance to create in the forest or on the beach, young people find their own personal connection and they become lifelong stewards of the outdoors.
That is how you begin to create environmental literacy – encouraging creativity and learning through writing, drawing and photography. Nature is a source of endless stimulation, and that spontaneous creativity means the average child will begin to see through their own eyes the urgent need to preserve our diverse environment.
These creative experiences are the foundation of the Robert Bateman Get to Know Program - one of Canada’s most far-reaching environmental education programs for young people.
The mission of Get to Know is to foster a greater awareness and understanding of biodiversity through hands-on learning that builds knowledge and strengthens connections to nature. As renowned artist Robert Bateman has proclaimed, “time spent in nature is an experience from which we can all benefit.”
The success of the Program over the last decade has revealed the incredible power of this vision, and of the creative arts, in allowing young people to express their bond with the plants and animals in their local environments.
The annual Robert Bateman Get to Know Contest - now in its 10th year – has endeavored to encourage youth to get outdoors, “get to know” their wild neighbours, and use their experiences as the inspiration for creative works of art. The theme of the contest is “Connect. Create. Celebrate.” and one of the foremost objectives of the Get to Know Program is to celebrate Canada’s young people for their passionate interest in the environment.
The contest launches today (April 22) and runs through May 28. Kids will have the chance to create a piece of original artwork and potentially win a spot in the annual Get to Know Contest Calendar, which publishes winning artwork from each year’s contest. Over the past decade, the calendar has become one of the most widely distributed nature calendars in Canada featuring the work of young people. Contest winners will receive a number of prizes, including digital cameras, cash, and, for winners over 12, a five day adventure at Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), which will be hosted by Parks Canada from August 23 to 27.
It is an exciting part of a much larger program which incorporates a number of successful initiatives, including online resources such as Virtual Hikes and Natural Treasures – programs which are designed to use technology to connect youth with nature– and the Get to Know BioBlitz, an international initiative designed to get youth and families out of doors and discovering other species in their communities.
The Get to Know Program is all about getting young people outdoors, letting them play in natural settings and creating their own memories and experiences. This is also the foundation of the Get to Know Contest, which provides a platform for young people to make a creative connection with nature through their own experiences. After all, as prominent educationist David Sobel points out, “one transcendent experience in nature is worth a thousand nature facts.”
The environment raises some of the biggest, broadest, and most important questions facing humanity today. We struggle to understand an uncertain future due to climate change, environmental degradation, and the numerous threats to species around the world.
The irony, however, is that these threats to nature and the species that inhabit it are not merely a product of ignorance or even indifference. It is arguable that as a whole we have a stronger base of knowledge about the environment than at any other time in history, through outlets like National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, the internet, and numerous other television shows and documentaries. Young people in particular are quite possibly more educated and more aware about the environment than any previous generation.
Despite this, the next generation’s relationship to nature seems muted at best, and in many cases non-existent. It is doubtful that the majority have been given the chance to understand and truly care about the natural world.
A recent survey by the Canadian Parks Commission, for example, found that young people fail to connect to nature partly because the outdoors can feel “intimidating and intolerably dangerous.” This lack of connection is a concern, because without it environmental education struggles to affect the behaviour of young people as much as it should.
It is increasingly important, then, to consider how to translate the knowledge they have about the outdoors into actions that reflect a deeper commitment to nature conservation. One solution: get kids outside developing a passion for nature that is fundamental to a deeper understanding of why and how we must preserve it.
The Robert Bateman Get To Know Contest is a fun, exciting and creative way to get young people back outside and experiencing nature again. You can get all of the rules and details about the contest HERE.
Happy Earth Day!
Photos courtesy of Robert Bateman Get to Know Program.
Category: KIDS, NATURE & OUR HERITAGE