Republished with permission from Watersheds Canada. Blog by: Ty Fischer, Riparian Habitat Restoration Intern
It is no secret that winters can be harsh here in Canada. Between the cold weather and the lack of sunlight, this is the time of year that many choose to stay inside and cozy up to the fire with a hot beverage and a good book. Next time you make a pot of hot chocolate, however, consider reaching for the travel mug instead! The winter season can provide you with incredible and magical opportunities to get out and connect with nature. There are lots of ways you can get outside and have fun, learn something new, and appreciate the intricacies of the natural world in a whole new way.
Read on to learn about 10 ways to have fun outside while celebrating winter!
By: US Forest Service
The Huron-Manistee National Forests of northern Michigan, USA, is hosting the annual Kirtland’s Warbler Young Artists’ Calendar Contest once again this year. Each year, wildlife staff and educators visit schools and reach out to communities in Michigan, Wisconsin, Canada, and The Bahamas to invite students to learn about the rare Kirtland’s warbler and their unique habitat. Students are then invited to create artwork depicting the Kirtland’s warbler or other wildlife and plants of the bird’s habitat.
By: Brittany Killingbeck, Stewardship Technician, Hamilton Naturalists’ Club
Hamilton is a biodiversity hotspot with a diversity of unique natural heritage features like the Niagara Escarpment, Cootes Paradise Marsh, and Lake Ontario among many other woodlands, wetlands, and waterways that provide refuge for people, animals, and plants alike. A biodiverse, healthy landscape provides critical benefits to Hamiltonians such as managing flooding by storing water, reducing air pollution by filtering out harmful air particulates, and sequestering carbon.
By: Ben Woodward, International Geography Olympiad Alumnus
Canada’s qualifiers for the International Geography Olympiad (iGeo) are just around the corner, and
Canadian Geographic Education is looking for Grade 11 and 12 students to represent Canada at 2024’s
iGeo in Dublin.
iGeo is an annual, international competition that brings together over 150 of the best 16 to 19 year old
geography students from over 40 countries. The competition consists of written tests, map and graphic
interpretation (the multimedia test), and a fieldwork exam. Each of these tests assess students’
knowledge of many areas of both human and physical geography. The week-long event also features a
day-long trip, a poster contest, and a chance to make lifelong friends from around the world.
Reprinted with permission from PLT Canada
Project Learning Tree Canada (PLT Canada), an initiative of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), works to advance environmental education, forest literacy and career pathways, using trees and forests as windows on the world. SFI and PLT Canada are getting ready for the Back-to-School period with the unveiling of the newest environmental education resource in Canada, the Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide.
By: Matthew Perry, Forest Communications Advocate, Canadian Institute of Forestry/Institut du Canada (CIF-IFC)
From September 17-23, 2023, Canadians from coast to coast to coast are invited to celebrate National Forest Week (NFW). Through this one-week campaign led by the CIF-IFC, individuals from all ways of life can learn more about the forest sector and its significance to Canada’s culture, history, and future, while also supporting a greater recognition of forests as a valuable, renewable and green resource.
Reprinted with permission from Watersheds Canada
One of the best things about creating a pollinator garden is the diversity of beauty that can be included! However, not all pollinator gardens welcome the same diversity of species. Bees are the most important and common pollinator type, with over 800 species in Canada! Luckily everyone’s favourite gentle friend the bumblebee is not only cute, but a native species as well. Be sure to respectfully admire the females who can sting multiple times unlike the non-native honeybee.
By Megan Seed, Outreach Technician, Adopt-A-Pond, Toronto Zoo
Snakes have a stigma associated with them that they can't seem to ssshake! On World Snake Day, let's break the stigma and help the world see snakes as the fascinating animals that they are! Ontario snakes range in size, with some reaching up to 183 centimeters, like the gray ratsnake, and others as small as 20 centimeters, like the northern red-bellied snake. If you believe that snakes are slimy, dangerous, and mean animals, getting to know Ontario's snakes may change your mind!
By Carissa Stauffer, Adopt-A-Pond Outreach Technician, Toronto Zoo
Why did the turtle cross the road? To build her nest, of course!
Ontario’s turtles are seasonal species, with their active season typically lasting from April to October. During this time, they have been found to be most active during the months of May and June, where they search far and wide for suitable habitats to build their nests. This nesting quest can take these turtles through wetlands, streams, along shorelines, and most dangerously – across roadways. Unfortunately for our native turtle species, this has become one of the most common causes of turtle mortality. So, as we continue through another busy nesting season, let’s learn about what goes on during this turtle quest and how we can protect these turtle-y awesome species!
By Dana Buchbinder, Citizen Science Coordinator, Ecospark
Help put Toronto and the GTA on the map to win the title of the wildest city in Canada by taking part in the City Nature Challenge 2023 from April 28 - May 1!
The City Nature Challenge is an annual four-day global event where cities across the world compete to see which city can gather the greatest number of wildlife observations, find the most species and engage the most people at the event. EcoSpark is once again proud to be the regional organizer for the city of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area.
By Philip Harker, Citizen Science Intern, EcoSpark
We tend to focus quite a lot on the earth’s flashier organisms: ferocious tigers, adorable axolotls, and towering trees. These organisms capture our imagination and help us to motivate others to protect our biosphere.
But these charismatic plants and animals don’t always tell the full story of the ecosystems that they come from. All across the world, ecosystems are highly dependent on the simpler organisms that we tend to take for granted. Today, we explore a diverse, weird, and fascinating (yet often overlooked) group of organisms: algae!
By: Danika Strecko, Senior Education Manager, Project Learning Tree Canada
The forest is teeming with life – from the tiniest microorganisms and fungi to birds and bears. The interdependence between everything growing and living in forests is truly awe-inspiring.
And while one of the best ways to learn about nature is to get outside, we realize that’s not always possible. Perhaps you don’t have easy access to forests or the weather in your neck of the woods (pun intended) isn’t ideal this time of year. That’s why Project Learning Tree Canada developed a fun online learning experience, Forest Quest, for teens and young adults.
Reprinted with permission from Invasive Species Centre. By: Nicole Szabo, Communication & Event Management Intern, Invasive Species Centre
You’ve probably heard this from us before: if you see an invasive species, report it to the web-based mapping system EDDMapS. Reports allow for early detection and response, which can lead to the successful management of an invasive species. But can one person submitting a photo from their phone actually make a difference in preventing the spread of invasives?
by Watersheds Canada
Whether you are a seasoned winter explorer or new to Canadian winters, there are lots of fun ways to enjoy this season. All of these activities will help you and your family get outside, help local species, try a new activity, and appreciate nature. Let’s get started!
By: Peter Soroye, KBA Assessment and Outreach Coordinator, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada
In the last few years, we’ve written to BEAN’s readers about what Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are and how we are identifying them across Canada. These KBAs are the sites across our country (and the rest of the world!) that are most important for the maintenance of biodiversity. Whether on land, sea, or underground, and whether important for rare species, threatened ecosystems, or incredible gatherings of wildlife, each KBA is highlighting some exceptional piece of nature that Canadians are responsible for. Building from the existing Important Bird and Biodiversity Area program, and working with a broad network of experts and knowledge-holders, Indigenous partners, NGOs, federal, provincial and municipal governments, and other stakeholders, we’ve identified over 1000 potential Key Biodiversity Areas across the country, with over 130 in Ontario.
By: Andrew Orlando, Habitat Technician, Ontario Streams
Known to some as the “King of Fish”, the Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) has one of the most storied histories across the Atlantic Ocean. Recently however, this history has not been entirely positive. Utilized as a food source for thousands of years, human induced pressures on the fish have only increased over the years to the extent that Atlantic Salmon are now one of the most heavily regulated fish in the world. Believed to have colonized Lake Ontario during the last post-glacial period when the lake was easily accessible by sea, historic populations adjusted to freshwater life. By 1896 however, they were declared to be extirpated (locally extinct) and thus began early recovery efforts.
By: Madison Sturba, Training & Outreach Intern, Invasive Species Centre
Did you know that forests are home to more than 80% of all terrestrial species? Plants, animals, insects, and humans all benefit from the forests ability to stabilize climate, produce oxygen, regulate water, provide habitat, and supply food.
By Sydney Shepherd, Ontario Piping Plover Conservation Technician, Birds Canada
Piping Plover are a small, sandy coloured shorebird that is listed as endangered both federally and provincially. After a 30-year absence, Piping Plover returned to the shores of Ontario in 2007.
As invertebrate-eating carnivores and habitat specialists, they are considered an indicator species. Their presence (or absence) sends us signals about the health of their habitats. So, where you see Piping Plover, you know you’re on a healthy beach.
By: Ben Teskey, OFAH Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program Coordinator
Picture this: forests, savannas, tall grass prairies, and wetlands full of wildlife; lakes, rivers, and streams teeming with fish. One of these fish, the Atlantic Salmon, is so abundant you could cross rivers by walking on their backs! This is the picture early European explorers and settlers described from when they first arrived in the Lake Ontario region in the 17th and 18th centuries. The air and water were clean, and the ecosystems were healthy, productive, and full of biodiversity.
By: Eric Buiter, Sr. Habitat Technician, Ontario Streams
In today’s world of constant progression, with pressures from large scale land alterations from agricultural intensification to urbanization, it seems like we humans are always on the go, always moving forward with shovel in hand. It’s no wonder how in a world that’s constantly moving forward, we tend to forget the needs of the non-humans when we build things, such as our infrastructure. Roads and bridges are designed to make our lives easier, but how do our movements affect how wildlife gets around?
By Val Masters, Environmental Communications and Social Media Manager, Seeds to Saplings
Did you know that anyone can boost biodiversity? It’s easier than you think to get more insects, mammals, and birds in your backyard. How? Just plant a native tree. Seeds to Saplings is an organization whose mission is to help students of all ages grow a native tree, from a tiny acorn all the way to a towering oak. We focus on getting our free online instructions out to classrooms of all levels, so that kids can grow up with their very own oak.
What wildlife did you see the last time you went outside? What will you see next? Help put Toronto and GTA on the map to win the title of the wildest city in Canada as we gear up to compete in the 2022 City Nature Challenge!
By Tera Shewchenko, Science Writer and Development Coordinator Intern, Invasive Species Centre
Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW) is coming up soon! Running from February 28th to March 4th, 2022, ISAW is a digital media campaign that aims to provide resources for learning and to spark discussion on invasive species issues. Whether you’re an environmentalist, an educator or just want to know more, this is an excellent opportunity to learn and get involved.
By Danika Strecko, Senior Manager of Education, Project Learning Tree Canada
Forests cover 31% of the world’s land, support 80% of all land-based biodiversity, and are home to more than 300 million people worldwide. Forests produce oxygen, replenish and filter groundwater, secure soil, and regulate air temperature. When sustainably managed, they provide solutions to some of our most pressing global challenges.
And forests can become outdoor classrooms—places where formal and non-formal educators can engage young learners with hands-on learning and inspire future generations to connect to nature and become stewards of the natural environment
By: Jessica Hurtubise, Environment Department Manager, North Slave Lake Métis Alliance
The Northwest Territories has a lot of water. NWT is home to both Canada’s longest river, the Mackenzie River (1,800 km), and its largest watershed, the Mackenzie River Basin. This watershed spans 3 provinces and 3 territories, covering a whopping 1.8 million km2. That’s almost as big as Mexico!
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