Studies show that students benefit from experiential learning – learning done outside, beyond the confines of four walls. It is learning that is hands. And involves all the senses.
Take it from someone who struggled all the way through primary school. Not all kids learn the same way. It look me a long time to figure out the learning style that suited me. But once I did, I started to enjoy school, do well, and went on to do a PhD in biology and become a university professor.
My own experiences have had a big influence on my role as a teacher. And it is because of this and my passion for our planet’s natural environments that led me to shift my focus to experiential learning. My own experiences through my post-secondary schooling have taken me to amazing places – the subarctic of Churchill, Manitoba, the dessert southwest of the United States, the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the tropical forests of Central America, and the rich coastal habitats of New Zealand. Those experiences changed my life. They connected me with nature. They showed me different cultures. They showed me the beauty of nature and its value in our lives. And all of that made me want to preserve all of those incredible places I visited.
It is my passion for biology and my experiences of visiting these incredible natural places on earth that were the motivation for me to create the Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program. It is a program focused on two things. One, connecting youth with nature. Getting them outside, to some incredible places on our planet, to see things that most people would never see. Two, to nurture that connection to the point that youth care about the environment, enough to want to preserve it. Frankly, their future depends on it. We currently do not live sustainably. Human impacts on the planet are large. But that can’t continue indefinitely. The next generation will have to find solutions to the problems that my generation, and those before mine, created. Inspiring kids to care and to actually do something is important. And so this is why our program has experiential education at its core. Our aim is to get kids to remote places around the world. Places where they can see nature with fewer human impacts on them that where they live. Places with beauty so stunning that they will want to preserve it.
A unique aspect of our program is that we use photography and videography to teach kids about the environment. We teach them the technical and creative aspects of it. We show them the intricate details of nature. And then we help them learn how to capture that in pixels. We then teach students how to create stunning visual presentations. And when those are ready, we’ll teach them how to present those to anyone who will listen – their schools, their clubs, their communities, but most importantly, their peers. Kids don’t really like learning from adults. And they learn better when they are taught by kids their own age. So that’s what our program strives to do. It turns kids into teachers. It turns kids into environmental ambassadors. Our program helps kids share their own messages of the need for positive environmental change, using their images and video and their words. It empowers them to feel that they actually can do things that will make a difference. These are the kids that will become our next world citizens. Voters and consumers. But also up and coming CEO’s, politicians, teachers, and parents.
Our YEAP mission statement is: to mentor a new generation of leaders, innovators, and world citizens who believe that the long term health of earth’s environments is at least as important as profits and development, and who will guide their generation toward a sustainable way of living.
And that is why we are currently engaged in an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign, trying to raise $25,000 to get me and my co-teacher on an arctic expedition with 80 high school students, to launch our first ever Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program. We have been very fortunate to be collaborating with Students On Ice, an award-winning organization that runs youth expeditions to the arctic and antarctic. We’ve been given the chance to pilot our YEAP on the July 2014 arctic expedition. And so this is why we need your help!
We have 32 days left of our funding campaign. We’ve raised almost $2,000 but that’s a long way from our $25,000 goal. So we need YOUR support. Please visit our crowd funding website and please donate. Pick a donation level that you are comfortable with. There is a thank you gift for your donation, depending on the amount you donate.
In addition to your donation, we also need you to spread the word. The more people we reach, the more donations we’ll get. And each of those donations gets us one step closer to our funding goal and more importantly, to creating a transformational experience for youth, inspiring a generation of positive environmental support.
Thank you for your support.