In fact, these ideals have always been present in the traditional teachings of the indigenous peoples who first resided on this land. As non-indigenous settlers learned to live on these traditional territories, they recognized a need for a specialized program of education that would support their subsistence lifestyle. This agricultural education suited the present needs of the settlers but lacked the fundamental conservation wisdom contained in the indigenous traditional teachings.
Over time, agricultural education evolved as the needs of society changed, and since the 1960’s, its goals have swelled to include those that we recognize today as fundamental to environmental education:
- Minimizing human impacts
- Encouraging personal and social development through adventure
- Affirming our dependency on the environment and, reframing our understanding of our place in the ecosystem
It has taken more than 150 years, but environmental education in Ontario has come full circle to appreciate the wisdom inherent in the teachings of our indigenous citizens.
Environmental education at the GRCA embraces each of the goals outlined above. It is education that grows minds, strengthens bodies, instills attitudes, and develops communities. It is education that is cause to reflect on our actions, to consider their consequences, so that we may safeguard our future and reach our fullest potential. It is not only about our survival, but also our ability to thrive as another species on this landscape. It is about making connections.
Ultimately, it is education about the environment, for the environment, in the environment.
Environmental education at the GRCA occurs by way of two different initiatives: