The Parks Canada Campus Club Network
“Through a network of campus clubs at post-secondary institutions across the country, Parks Canada is engaging the next generation of leaders and supporters to share their passion about Canada’s natural and cultural heritage.” - Parks Canada
To get young adults excited about getting outside, connecting with nature and learning about Canada’s history.
Canada has seen some major demographic shifts over the past twenty years, such as increases in immigration as well as urbanization. Based on research, we know that young adults in Canada face many barriers to visiting and experiencing the outdoors. These include a lack of access, knowledge, equipment and transportation, as well as a general lack of awareness of opportunities. Until recently, Parks Canada had seen many years of declining visitation at national parks and national historic sites, primarily due to these factors. In response to these trends and in an effort to become more relevant to young Canadians, the Parks Canada Campus Club Network was initiated.
The network is a grassroots movement that is led “by youth, for youth”. Its aim is:
- To mobilize and inspire young adults and their generation.
- To connect with them where they study, work, live and play.
- To make their voice heard.
- To increase awareness among youth and their generation about protected natural and cultural heritage found in their own backyard.
- To support their learning objectives and even recruit them eventually.
- To help young Canadians learn more about Parks Canada jobs and volunteer opportunities.
Our vision of « Engaging the next generation of Parks Canada leaders and supporters” is building a program based on long term relationships reaching strategic organisation objectives.
- Expand Parks Canada’s reach, increase its visibility during specific period (i.e. Canada 150)
- Provide relevant opportunities for young Canadians’ initial connection with Parks Canada, mainly in urban areas like Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa
- Effective volunteer engagement model.
- Ability to reach 18-30 students where they are, live and play: on campus.
- Impact on the employment and volunteer opportunities found at Parks Canada.
- Ultimately increase visitation, revenue and visitor connection as young adults become young families.
More specifically, we support campus clubs through formal volunteer recognition; national outreach and marketing; facilitating transportation and equipment rental; connecting clubs with regional management units, parks and sites; managing a virtual network through social media and analysis of Campus Clubs Annual Reports to propose new ways of moving forward.
We collect and track comments and feedback from campus club leaders through an individual online questionnaire. The data generated from this process feeds into the Parks Canada Campus Club Annual Report. Here are a few highlights from the 2016-2017 Report:
- 38 clubs in 9 provinces
- 60 volunteer leaders
- 19,000 young adult followers (when compiling all individual club’s Facebook pages)
- 4000 hours of volunteering (including clubs management, promotion, activities planning and delivery, etc.)
- 300 activities (including conservation efforts, visits to Parks Canada places, speaker series, etc.).
Here are a few secrets that have been critical to the success of the Parks Canada Campus Club Network:
- Awareness: We build an initial connection to inspire curiosity, share fascinating stories and initiate to the Parks Canada experience. Through outreach efforts and a variety of communication platforms (webpage, private Facebook page for the virtual network, Facebook messages, Skype/Facetime, emails, postal communication, Google drive, etc.) we respond to individual leaders needs and requests in timely matter, which is not always on during regular business hours.
- Engagement: We also work to build relationships based on trust, accountability and willingness to try new things, not only with campus club leaders but also with our regional colleagues. By connecting clubs with local staff, they get to know each other and are in a better position to build a long and sustainable relationship based on win-win scenarios that lead to immersion.
- Immersion: Among our key successes are the authentic and transformative experiences that ultimately bring club leaders to strongly value and support Parks Canada’s mandate. We help to overcome any barriers that might prevent clubs from reaching their goals (transportation, equipment, accommodation, rental space, etc.) so they can host speakers series, visit parks and/or historic sites, organize and/or support environmental protection activities including shoreline clean ups, restoration of species at risk efforts, etc.
- Ambassadorship: Campus clubs illustrate the true power, importance and value of volunteering for Parks Canada. Through their engagement, club leaders increase awareness among their peers where they are, about the work that Parks Canada does. They become regional “youth ambassadors” who are vocal supporters and champions of Parks Canada’s places and mandate.