During the summer of 2015, more than 80 youth from the Labrador Straits and Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland received hands-on instruction in seabird and whale identification and environmental science as part of a multi-year environmental education and leadership training program organized by the nonprofit Quebec-Labrador Foundation, made possible with a $75,000 grant from the IGA.
The program’s goal is to foster a new generation of leaders who will use their knowledge, skills, and positive values for the benefit of their local communities and environment. Five learning objectives target traditional values, citizen science, and environmental stewardship through a day camp program held in spectacular natural settings and timed with the seasonal migrations of fish and wildlife.
Under the direction of an experienced conservation biologist, interns from Canadian and US universities provide creative instruction and fun-filled activities. The youth respond with enthusiasm and passion! Guest presentations by local artisans and skilled professionals target traditional skills, while campfire chats about careers and aspirations spark networking opportunities in the relaxed company of friends.
The Point Amour Lighthouse Provincial Historic Site was one of several picturesque settings for the program during its first year. There was also a whale watching excursion near St. Anthony that was preceded by a half-day workshop on marine science held at the Grenfell Interpretation Centre. Youth who attended the marine science workshop not only were given instruction on whale biology but were challenged with surprising tasks such as designing a miniature weight-bearing boat out of aluminum foil wrap and experimenting to find the best technique for cleaning up an oil spill.
Lisa Davis-Ryland of the Community Youth Network was excited about the launch of the program, which she believes will grow in the coming years. “This group of thirteen kids are walking out of the program with a wealth of knowledge, and will talk about their positive experiences with the thirteen kids that didn’t attend,” she explained. For their part, interns learned about the challenges facing small communities while discovering a strengthened personal commitment to service.
The Quebec-Labrador Foundation is grateful to the International Grenfell Association for its generous support of this program and to the many local and regional partners that publicized and supported it during the program’s first year.
Ms. Kathleen Blanchard