The pandemic has impacted our lives in many ways, particularly with regard to learning in schools and experiential programming. Teachers have had to fast-track their technological skills and shift from their regular face to face connections with students to engaging through online learning.
Raincoast knows this first hand as we were literally one week away from setting sail aboard our floating classroom, Achiever, when the pandemic abruptly brought those trips to a halt. Our annual sailing trips are the highlight of Raincoast’s transformative Salish Sea Emerging Stewards program and allow students to immerse themselves directly in their coastal environments through multi-day boat-based and hands-on learning in the Gulf Islands and the territories of various Coast Salish Nations.
Our goal with these trips is to allow students to understand first hand the local wildlife, habitats, cultural perspectives, and conservation issues of the coast. The experiential aspect allows youth to connect directly to place in a way that fully engages all their senses.
What started out as an initiative to engage local high school students quickly expanded to include an audience that ranged from 4-70 years old, demonstrating the timeless value of curiosity and lifelong learning. Tweet This!
Although immersive learning is irreplaceable, considering the situation, Raincoast quickly shifted our learning online and launched our Coastal Insights live and interactive weekly webinar series to help provide an engaging learning experience focussed on British Columbia’s coastal environments, key species, ecological principles and conservation issues. Each episode explored a fascinating topic with guest speakers lending their expertise and insights that spanned science, photography, Indigenous stewardship and conservation in coastal BC.
What started out as an initiative to engage local high school students quickly expanded to include an audience that ranged from 4-70 years old, demonstrating the timeless value of curiosity and lifelong learning. Viewers tuned in each week to learn about topics that included understanding how to coexist with local wildlife as well as current research and conservation of iconic species of BC such as salmon, bears and killer whales.
Each episode also outlined possible solutions and ways in which we can all contribute. We included episodes that showcased the important role of video and photography in conservation, inviting professional wildlife photographer Eric Sambol to provide his story, approach, and advice alongside Raincoast’s Alex Harris (our in-house film-maker and photographer).
Each week we engaged an average of 50 participants and as many as 80 for other weeks with a regular following of dedicated attendees. We had a total of 10 different guest speakers and 6 hosts throughout the series. Raincoast’s Junior Leaders, Salish Sea Emerging students alumni, were each featured in their own episode and co-hosted the series finale! The Coastal Insight’s series allowed us to hold up these youth and celebrate their leadership skills.
In total, there were nearly 400 participants that joined the series throughout the 11 episodes.
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Coastal Insights provided us with a new platform that allowed us to engage a wider demographic group, reaching people across the globe! We had people join from across Canada, and viewers from the United States, Spain, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Finland.
We are very grateful to have had the opportunity to engage people of all ages, backgrounds, and countries virtually on this platform. A big thanks also goes out to this year’s sponsors of the Salish Sea program, who also value the importance of engaging youth with nature and have allowed us to deliver this initiative.
There is no doubt we look forward to the day we can engage again in-person through immersive and experiential learning. Until then, we will continue to come up with creative and innovative ways to safely educate youth and adults about nature, people, and place.
We are now exploring our next educational initiative that will revolutionize experiential learning using the latest technology to put the viewer in control. Stay tuned for what we have in store next!
Thank you to our current program sponsors
TD Friends of the Environment
First West – Island Savings Community Endowment
Sitka Society for Conservation
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