The Vancouver Aquarium, Canada
“Through meaningful conversation and conservation-oriented action, we can inspire all people of all ages to have a positive, lasting impact on the world around us”
Connecting multiple generations simultaneously to the amazing biodiversity around us and engaging them in collaborative, goal-oriented conservation solutions.
“It takes a village to raise a child.” – African proverb.
At the Vancouver Aquarium, we believe that we are constantly learning about the world around us. We strive to inspire our communities to connect to our natural environments, to understand how our actions have an impact on the world around us, and to realize that every individual contributes to the well-being of our natural environments.
In September 2016, our education team launched a creative new initiative that strives to break down the traditional teacher-student model. Our goal was to create a community of individuals who were interested in learning more about biodiversity, conservations issues, and how to inspire a new generation of innovative thinkers. We wanted to give them a strong rooting in philosophy and conversation, and the space to apply that knowledge to inspire collaborative, conservation-based solutions amongst our broader audiences (both students and their parents).
Create a program that acknowledges teachers as learners and learners as teachers.
Our solution was two-fold. We started by recruiting volunteers who were interested in thinking outside of the box, who had a passion for the conservation of natural environments, and who were driven to share their interests with a diverse group of individuals. We recognized that in order to be teachers, we must acknowledge our role as learners as well.
Each month, our team takes the time to discuss contemporary issues in teaching, share current events in conservation, and brainstorm how inspiring a love for nature can be a springboard for collaborative innovation. Based on these principles, the team collaboratively designs, teaches, and evaluates activities for our program participants. These activities encourage exploration for our younger learners and provide suggestions so that parents can extend the concepts presented once the workshop has concluded.
Now starting its second year, this program has already seen positive impacts. We have created a community that connects individuals from a variety of backgrounds to engage in conservation issues and collaborative solutions. Many of our volunteers have expressed a better appreciation for biodiversity and how to share their love of nature. Practising program development in a conservation-based organization has given them the skills, confidence, and inspiration to apply this knowledge in their careers. Our students and parents have enjoyed connecting with nature in new ways and have expressed a motivation to inspire others to have a positive impact on the conservation of natural resources.
- When volunteers are empowered to take ownership of a project, their innovation is endless
- Educators should take the time to reflect on their practice and encourage others to do the same
- Effective conservation solutions require many minds working together – all opinions are valuable, regardless of a participant’s age or background