WA Wed – A Walk with a Biologist

David Cook using his skills

David Cook is “Wild About” science and being outdoors. In retirement he has had the time and willingness to share his extensive background knowledge about plants, animals, and environmental concerns. He has actively engaged in doing interpretive walks throughout the Lower Mainland of Vancouver, British Columbia. His walks are designed to be learning experiences rather than hikes. Many of the adults who attend his walks are familiar with his reputation as a scientist and appreciate that walks are accessible to people with diverse range of physical abilities and knowledge of science. The type of walk offered depends on the group requesting David’s support and the choices David makes to keep things fresh and interesting. He does not like doing repeat sessions that are the same. Therefore, participants can expect variety. I was on the Bear Hunt when he bent down, scooped up the bear scat and ran it through his fingers to assess what the bear had been eating. Apparently, that was another of his many studies, reporting on the diet of local bears through analysis of their poop. For the non-biologists in the group, he added an element of surprise that had us delighted and riveted to what he was saying. He provides a model of how senior citizens can #getOUTdoors, #getINvolved in learning that benefits their fitness and sense of belonging for free.

David Cook continues to be active in his North Shore Community.  He is on the board of the Light House Park Preservation Society, the Old Growth Conservancy Society, was  on the board of the Friends of Cypress Park Society.  He was on the board of Nature Vancouver and ran the Botany Section of Nature Vancouver for ten years and still runs the Geology Section of that society.   He has recently completed a seven-year study of 54 hectares of old-growth forest in West Vancouver and previously completed similar reports on two old-growth forests in the District of North Vancouver.This has resulted in many opportunities to share his background knowledge.

David was born and raised in Perth. He graduated from the University of Western Australia with a double major in zoology and geology with extra courses in botany. Rather than following his father’s footsteps into banking, his insatiable curiosity took him into work as a science reporter with a Western Australian newspaper, a job as an entomologist for the Department of Agriculture in Australia and Port Moresby. This came to an abrupt end when he was offered a transfer to Rabaul, the capital of New Britain, while working as an Entomologist for the Administration of Papua New Guinea. Rabaul was a town built in the crater of a volcano and nobody wanted to work there. Predictably, a few years later the town was wiped off the map by a volcanic eruption. David had been on expeditions into the Star Mountains and up the Sepik and Ramu Rivers of Papua New Guinea, and after leaving New Guinea, caving expeditions to New Caledonia and the adjacent islands of the New Hebrides. Then began a three-year world trip that almost achieved circumnavigation of the globe; Japan , South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Laos (the Vietnam war), Cambodia (Angkor Wat), India, the Middle East, France and finally Canada where, tiring of travel, he took a job in one of his fields, Geology

David earned a living as a geologist with Union Carbide Exploration. Eventually he was transferred to Vancouver and stayed put. He never lost his love for botany and was able to focus his attention on this love once he retired. He worked with a well-known botanist named Terry Taylor, from whom he learnt the local species, and by co-leading interpretive walks.

He has developed a good reputation and demonstrated a willingness to share his knowledge. The following are some of the groups that he has hosted walks for:

North Shore Black Bear Society.

Old Growth Conservancy Society.

Lighthouse Park Preservation Society.

Nature Vancouver (formerly Vancouver Natural History Society)

Salmonberry Days (Dunbar Residents Association).

Cordilleran Section of the Geological Association of Canada.

Friends of Cypress Provincial Park.

Elders Council for Parks.

Elder College.

Stanley Park Ecology Society.

Pacific Spirit Park Society.

Beaty Biodiversity Museum.

West Vancouver Museum & Archives.

Young Naturalists Club.

Chilliwack Naturalists.

The Land Conservancy.

Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre.

False Creek Watershed Society.

Suzuki Elders.

Private tours.

School group tours.

He has also hosted geology tours with prearranged stopping points in Lynn Canyon Park, Caulfeild Park, Stanley Park, Kitsilano Beach, Fraser Valley to Hope, and the Sea to Sky Highway. 

Organization of the Interpretive Walks:

  1.  The society or group sponsoring the interpretive walk publicizes the interpretive walk to their members, sends out email invitations to register and generates interest through social media.
  2. Having notified members of the society or group, David shut up sends out emails to his own list that has grown to over 1000 . This includes people who have previously attended walks or communicated interest over time.
  3. Confirmations are sent out to people once they are registered.
Hello Carrie
You are registered for the Bear Walk on Thursday Sept 8th. at 10 am. The meeting location is the parking area on Lillooet Road just before the yellow gate which is the entrance gate to the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve and just after Capilano University and then the cemetery. There is alternative pay parking at Capilano University, a 15 minutes walk away. Allow for this eventuality.
Most of the walk is open to the sky, so wear a hat if it is a sunny day. Bring water and a snack. The closest toilets are at Capilano University.
I have attached a map with the meeting location shown by a red cross.
4. Usually the society for which the walk is being conducted will have a Release of Liability form to be filled out by each participant.

Of the over 1000 people notified about a walk, about 20 people usually respond. Although, since Covid, people were desperate to get out and I have had a significant increase in numbers to about double that figure. In that case I place the excess number on a wait list. Of the 20 that achieve registration, about half will cancel, particularly if the weather changes, leaving me with the ideal number of about 10.

David is aware of other programs to facilitate registration processes, but he remains with what is tried, tested, and works for him.

There is lots of room for others wanting to share their expertise. David’s preference is to have a group of about 10 people which usually ends up at about 10 as some almost always cancel. He finds this small number lends itself to more questions, conversation, and active engagement. The fact that David frequently sends out messages stating the session is full, shows that people are receptive to this kind of learning outdoors in nature. He is hoping others reach out to offer these kinds of opportunities and learn about their crucial role in ensuring that good decisions are being made with respect to the environment.

This Wild About Outdoor Learning Wednesday post is based on input and an interview with Dr. David Cook.

Wild About Friday Fun Fact #1

by Anabelle Lee

Anabelle Wee submitted photos to the Wildife-in-Focus Contest and her seagull photo is now being featured on a T-shirt for sale on the BCSPCA website. She belongs to an informally formed group in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver with a fascination for all things wildlife, but especially birds!

Never a Gull Moment by Anabelle Wee

Way to go, Anabelle!

Photos, Friends and Nature as a Way of Life

Ruby Best doing what she is “Wild About”. Photo by Anabelle Wee

The Wild About Outdoor Learning Society will be highlighting a number of ways that you can #getOUTdoors and #getINvolved in your community.  Vancouver, British Columbia offers access to a wide range of outdoor experiences.  Unfortunately some of these experiences come at a high cost and are inaccessible for some people to participate on a regular basis.  Ruby Best has come up with a way to get out in nature regularly and staying active with a group of like-minded people for the cost of the camera that you select.   

Ruby has always been interested in photography. In the past, she photographed mostly people and places.   This changed due to a friendship with an artist who photographed birds as studies for her paintings. The two of them would go out once a week to find birds to photograph.  They started off with backyard birds common the Vancouver Lower Mainland such as chickadees, juncos, robins, sparrows, and hummingbirds. The day Ruby saw a photo of a barred owl, that changed. She was in love.  She was determined to “catch” a barred owl on her camera. This process led her into an owl inquiry and a fascination with “all things raptor”! 

When her friend became ill and could no longer go out birding, Ruby felt vulnerable going into desolate areas by herself.   Her desire to continue to develop her nature photography skills and seek out raptors led her to consider her options. Many years working as an Administrative Assistant at the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation left her with well-developed organizational skills and strong people skills.  

Ruby set out to find a like-minded person to go birding with her.  The process she followed evolved over time. Now it provides a great model for other people wanting to form interest based groups to pursue their learning, make friends and get out into nature for both physical fitness and mental health.  She has been able to share some great ideas about how she got started and things to consider when organizing a group.  

Social media has played a key role for Ruby’s formation of her group.  She joined a Facebook Birding Group Page when she first got interested in birds.  Another person who had been a professional photographer in India, posted that he was interested in a birdwatching partner.  Ruby responded to his inquiry on this page and Mann became Ruby’s new birding buddy.  The common interest in birds and photography was a bonus and fed both of their enthusiasm.  Mann has  won awards in National Geographic for some of his nature shots.  He also developed his photography skills doing professional portraits of pregnant woman and action shots of children in India.   His photography expertise helped Ruby to hone her photography skills.  Ruby’s background knowledge about local birds and the places to find them was helpful for Mann.  

Nextdoor, is a social networking APP to support community building in neighbourhoods. Some people sell their couches or share information about local businesses. Ruby formed a special interest group called “Wildlife Photography” and invited people to post their photographs of B.C. wildlife. By this time her and Mann’s interests had expanded to include other local wildlife in their photography expeditions, like the bear and deer in Minnekhada Park. Ruby invited members of this group to join her and Mann on their ventures. Forty people joined the Nextdoor special interest group. Two recently retired, novice photographers signed up to go birding with Ruby and Mann.

At that point, the group started to grow via word of mouth.  Another friend and colleague of Ruby’s from the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation joined the group to be out in nature.  She didn’t bring along a camera, but she did bring along her enthusiasm, then her granddaughter, and then another friend to join the group. 

Ruby monitored e-bird, a free resource to select good places to see interesting birds and the times to site them. Many others birders do the same thing. Ruby’s group frequently show up at spots where other photographers have gathered looking for a specific bird. Ruby learned that there are many types of birders. Some are committed to being silent observers in the bird’s habitat and strive to be unobtrusive while taking their photos. Some people like her buddy Don, prefer to go birding alone but are generous about sharing information about sightings. Ruby keeps in touch with him and he shares rare bird and owl sightings frequently. Some birders are reluctant to share information about bird sightings until they know you better. This is partially because large groups of photographers scare the birds away. Also, some birders will be very disruptive in the birds’ habitat to get the best photographs. Ruby reports having seen people shake trees to wake up owls or shine flashlights on them. This is perceived as not only intrusive but unethical in birding circles.

Many faces have become familiar. Photographers gravitate to Ruby’s group. They are attracted by the friendly demeanor of the group members who are often willing to share finds and engage in conversations about birds and photography.  Some of these people have expressed interest in joining the group.  

Participating in this group has also opened other possibilities for the photographers. A few of the group members joined a photography group at a Community Centre in East Vancouver. Ruby and Colin are now submitting their own photos to competitions through the Lion’s Gate Photo Club. Mann continues to submit and win competitions internationally. Anabelle submitted several photos to the Wildife-in-Focus Contest and BCSPCA selected her seagull photo to featured on a T-shirt for sale on the BCSPCA website.

Photo by Annabelle Wee

At this point the group has grown to ten people and the group has decided this is the maximum size. When new members were accepted into the group, they were added to a What’s App Group. Meeting spots and times are posted. Photos and sightings are shared. People choose to show up at a designated spot at a particular time, or not. Some people are interested in participating once a week, others attend several times per week, and others daily. Some days the groups are bigger and sometimes two people venture off to make a new discovery.

In Ruby’s words:  

“Birding is addictive. Just when you think you’ve seen them all, another rare bird or raptor shows up. Birding keeps us moving which is better than being sedentary, and it keeps our minds alert. Being out in the fresh air amongst the trees, rivers, oceans, lakes, and seeing different types of wildlife has a very therapeutic effect. I always thought I would have a difficult time making new friends when I retired but since birding, I’ve made so many new like-minded friends. 

Together we have seen great-horned owls, barred owls, saw-whet owls, barn owls, long-eared owls, and snowy owls. I never knew that there were so many different owls here and there are still some that I have not seen. We have gone all the way to Chilliwack in search of the elusive pygmy owl.  We’ve seen rare birds to this area such as the scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, snow buntings, Tropical King birds, acorn woodpeckers, and leucistic/albino barred owl.   We’ve gotten out of bed up at 5:30 am in the middle of winter to search for snowy owls in Iona and nearly froze our butts off. We’ve waited at dusk on the Boundary Bay dykes to see the barn owls and short-eared owls hunt for voles in the marsh. We are no longer just photographing birds and raptors but also other wildlife such as marmots, bears, and bobcats.  

I’m learning to be a better wildlife photographer too, through seeing photos taken by the more experienced photographers.  My first camera was a Nikon point and shoot but once I got into taking photos of birds, but I needed a bigger zoom lens so I could watch birds from a distance and not scare them away.  I have now graduated to a Nikon P1000 with a 3000 mm zoom lens that is perfect for taking snap shots of birds a great distance away.  My full-frame Nikon D850 with a Nikkor 200-500 mm lens has allowed me to further develop my camera skills and win some prizes.   Of course, the skilled photographers in the group have taught me that amazing photos are a result of the talent and skill of the person behind the camera.  

Through birding I have also learned to observe and appreciate BC’s diverse wildlife from a distance without causing harm or disturbing them. I also have more interest now in preserving the habitat of endangered species such as the spotted owl.”

Ruby has some recommendations for you to consider when starting a group like this.

  1. Think about the purpose and size of group you would like to form. 
  2. Consider the kind of ethical behaviour you want to see on the birding trail and invite like-minded people to attend.
  3. Include a list of reminders for people.

            For example:   

  • Don’t forget a water bottle and packed lunch.  
  • Don’t wear red or other bright colours because it scares away the birds.
  • Be very clear if there are specific requirements for being part of the group.  For example:  Well behaved dogs are welcome to attend the group with the owner if our destination allows dogs onsite.  For example, Reifel Bird Sanctuary does not allow dogs onsite, whereas North 49 doubles as a dog walking park.  

This group has some obvious benefits.  The people in the group are retired and available during the day.  They are regularly outdoors walking, stopping to notice nature around them, developing their interests, honing their skills, and developing a friendship group.   All of these are positives in terms of physical health, mental health, and investment in preservation of nature.  They #getOUTdoors and #getINvolved regularly.   They are all Wild About Outdoor Learning!

This Wild About Outdoor Learning Wednesday post is based on input and an interview with Ruby Best.

Self-Styled Writer’s Retreat

Douglas Stuart, Violaine Huisman, and Gabriel Krause at Vancouver Writers Fest 2022

There is no lack of books, YouTube presentations, or writing courses and retreats on offer that teach how to write, what to write, and create space for writers to write.  I have consumed many of them.  However, I have decided the only catapult for me to write must come from me.  The Writer’s Festival 2022 at Granville Island in Vancouver, B.C. just celebrated its 35th anniversary!  Over the years, I have been fortunate to attend The Writing Festival, as well as bring students, teachers, and friends to the week-long event.  Up until this year, I attended the festival predominantly as a reader.  Usually, I attend sessions with favourite authors and wait in long lines to have them sign newly purchased and well-loved copies of their books.  No one can stir up enthusiasm for a book and provide insight into the text like the author.  This year I took a different tact.  I selected sessions that I thought would push me as a writer.  The intention was to apply learning from sessions to my own writing.  

It was a different process to select sessions as a writer rather than a reader.  I looked to the titles of the sessions, more than to the authors.  Wayne Johnston made the cut to my sensibilities of myself as a reader and a writer.  Author of “fat, sad books” that my daughter noticed I gravitated to in her wisdom at the ripe old age of 6, his session only needed to be billed as “An Evening with Wayne Johnston.”  I felt fortunate to get tickets for this reputed Canadian author before it sold out. 

Due to my familiarity with the author, Wayne Johnston’s session was like going to visit an old friend.  He was reading from his book, Jennie’s Boy.  The book is based on 6 months of the life of his seven-year-old self, not certain if he is going to survive the year.   His father’s tendency to spend the rent money at the bar and his mother’s willingness to forgive, resulted in him living in 23 different houses by the time he turned seven years old.  His health problems left the doctors in a quandary in terms of a diagnosis.  The focus on 6 months was a eureka moment for me.  In my writing of childhood, I have been overwhelmed with the amount of content.  My memories of childhood are numerous.  Peaks and valleys painted with vivid colour.  Not a lot locked behind doors or inaccessibility or flat land that has been relegated to the not worth remembering category.  My memory cannot be unremembered, and details threaten to bury the stories I set out to tell.  Peeling back to one year where my decisions as an 8-year-old define who I will become, I can imagine completing the book.  I could have hugged Wayne Johnston.  Instead, I just thanked him and let him sign the book.  

The other two sessions I selected solely based on the titles.  I want to write fiction but my most powerful writing comes from my experiences or the feelings from those experiences and concepts.  Fiction from Reality and The Narrator’s Tale – Playing with Truth brought together authors that I was not familiar, and I put myself in the hands in the architects of The Writer’s Festival.  The moderators in both cases were unique in their approach but skilled in facilitating a thought-provoking conversation between the authors and navigating the concepts of owning your own story, inspiration, memoir, and fiction that conveys universal truths.  I may not have picked up these authors on my own or attended their sessions if I hadn’t rolled the dice in this particular way.  I’m grateful I did.  

Fiction from Reality featured three authors reading from their books and a mediated conversation.  Violaine Huisman was born in Paris and has been living in New York for the past 20 years.  Her reading from the recently published, The Book of Mother, takes us into her traumatic childhood of her and her sister, growing up with a dysregulated mother with multiple diagnosis, including bipolar and trauma.  The rest of the story brings in the back stories that were also determining directions.  Douglas Stuart was born and raised in Glasgow and was reading from his book Young Mungo.  He also referenced his 2020 Booker Prize winner, Shuggie Bain.  The final author Gabriel Krause was a Polish kid living in the slums of London, when he was drawn into the crime and drug scene as a way of defining an identity for himself.  His reading from Who They Was was longlisted Booker Prize and “gritty” doesn’t seem enough to describe this other world he brings the reader into.  Obviously, these writers were brought together for the success that they’ve had in taking very personal experiences and creating fiction that smacks of truth.  Yet, equally fascinating was the discussion between the authors.  Part of this was thanks to the skillful moderation by someone who was clearly an avid reader.  The woman ahead of me in line got the last Gabriel Krause book.  It was her first Writer’s Festival and I had told her it was worth buying the books and having them signed to get the full Writer’s Festival experience. Bittersweet advice when she got the last book.  Although in all truth, I would have given it to the guy behind me that really wanted it and was only buying one book.  The comradery of readers that emerges at Writing Events and bookstores!  

The final session I attended as called The Narrator’s Tale – Playing with Truth. Another amazing discussion with three interesting authors and skillfully moderated by David Ebner, a Globe and Mail National Correspondent. The question explored was how to maintain truth in the telling of stories when they aren’t strictly factual. The notion of playing with a sense of truth is something that fascinates me. Billy Ray Belcourt read from his auto-fiction novel, A Minor Chorus. He brings the perspective of a Cree Nation poet who identifies as queer. His life and the experiences are foreign to me, but the poetry of his language conveys universal truths that trigger recognition, heartbreak and the desire to go for coffee and talk. Iain Reid read from We Spread Foe and spoke about narrator’s that change our reality. João Reis is Portuguese translator, author of The Translator’s Bride – a personal connection because I recently visited Portugal. And yes, he was proud to tell me he was from Porto, and I did share my favourite Porto in spring memories while he was signing my book. His Kafka-esque quality to his writing very much reminded me of reading The Castle when in the Prague. The stream of consciousness of the main character allowed conveyed the truth of the characters understanding, the restraint and disconnect with the lack truth in his spoken words aloud and his ultimate spiral downward. Framing writing as a stream of consciousness like João Reis freed me from shutting down any hint of a run-on sentence. Releasing me from years of teaching writing that has resulted in stifling rather than freeing experimentation with my own writing.

I’m on my fifth of the seven books I bought to read for my self-styled writing course.   I’m still inspired.  The diverse nature of the authors and the diverse nature of their writing made my Writer’s Retreat a continuing growth experience and helped me to see other possibilities.  My self-imposed course requirements count reading as real work.  The permission to read is a gift I’ve given myself.  Of course, it also mandates writing time and application of new learning from my selected authors.   Another gift. Clearly this is a good frame for a Writing Retreat.  The $25.00 cost of tickets for most sessions, made it less costly than signing up for a writing course, even when I include the cost of the books.   Perhaps I’ll be able to charge thousands for my own brand of Writing Retreat and travel to exotic places to write.  I just need to publish something!  I am a master of beginnings.  I just need to finish one of the stories I carry in my head.  Because, as Billy-Ray Belcourt says “I write because I’ve read and been moved into a position of wonder.”1

  1. Billy-Ray Belcourt (2022).  A Minor Chorus. Hamish Hamilton Canada. p. 19.

A Vancouver Gift

It is the ultimate day of freedom in Vancouver.  A rainy Sunday morning.  Dark. Pouring rain.  And glorious.  The mantra to get up and enjoy the day is absent in my mind.  There is no hurry to get to work.  No pressure to accomplish a task.  No runners on the front street beaconing me to join them.  No glimpse of sunshine that I need to quickly get outside and enjoy.  Only a freedom to choose.  Or perhaps, not to choose to do anything productive.  

Of course, the first thing on my agenda of life is a particularly good cup of coffee compliments of DeLonghi. And to follow the advice of Julia Cameron by beginning the day by writing, in this case in my exquisite paperblanks Fall Filigree “Persimmon” with the very fitting quote:

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

Albert Camus

Sitting on my morning perch, the cozy, red leather chair looking out on my colourful garden, the leaves invite closer examination.  Trees and leaves are no longer one uniform variation of shades of green but individual entities.  On rainy days, leaves are plastered to the ground, and you can see how unique each leaf is in colour and in pattern.  Walking is good on a rainy day.

The suggestion of a walk opens the question of what the neighbouring ocean is doing today.  The ocean on a rainy day promises action.  Waves churning.  Raindrops breaking the surface.  Seagulls in their element and making themselves heard.  The response of the Canadian Geese, crows, and the occasional eagle. The sound of action beyond mere human frivolity on the beach.  Power far beyond our own.  On rainy days, you notice. Wonder what is happening beneath the surface.

There is also a sense that I should spring into action and jump in my car to go see the salmon spawning in Coquitlam.  It only took one day of rain for the salmon to spring into action to finish the last of their arduous journey.  It is inspirational to witness their tenacity and resilience.  It gives a sense of hope that our very own temperate rainforest still has the capacity to allow nature to thrive.  That perhaps it’s not too late for us to do what we need too.  

Or I can go back to bed with a book and a pot of tea.  Perfection exists today. Free to choose my very own brand.  Guilt free.  

Take Me Outside Inspires

Take Me Outside is the brainchild of Colin Harris.  Born out of a childhood of happy, engaged outdoor experiences and inspired by our very own, Canadian icon, Terry Fox, the goal of Take Me Outside is to get school kids off screens and learning outside at school every day.  Colin catapulted Take Me Outside by running 7600 kilometers across Canada.  You can read about the diary of drama, running challenges and the 80 school visits along the way in his book, Take Me Outside:  Running Across the Canadian Landscape That Shapes Us.  Last week,Take Me Outside Day on Wednesday, October 19th was celebrated. Thousands of kids across Canada headed outdoors.  For the entire week, speakers offered professional development for educators, contests, ideas for outdoor activities, and prizes from places like The Outdoor Learning Store.  Organizations with similar goals came together to support Take Me Outside in reaching educators, kids and people in the place to help students connect with the outdoors.  People committed to getting outdoors more often.  

Wild About Outdoor Learning Society, a fledgling non-profit incorporated in British Columbia on August 4th, 2022, took the opportunity to promote and participate in the week of outdoor learning through social media posts, a bibliography of 100 books to inspire elementary and middle school students to Outdoor Learning, YouTube Read-Aloud of Outdoor Learning books, and blog posts. Colin Harris has been a steadfast supporter since Wild About Vancouver emerged as a grassroots movement in 2015.  Our rallying call #getOUTdoors and #getINvolved can easily be applied to Take Me Outside.  One goal of the Wild About Outdoor Learning is to create a network of support to extend the message about possibilities and benefits of working, learning, relaxing, playing and investing in the outdoors for all people in B.C. communities.   

Last week engaging with other partner organizations in a common activity was inspirational.   It felt very much like the annual Wild About Vancouver Event that has been happening since 2015.  At Wild About Vancouver Events, community groups in the Vancouver Lower Mainland with a common investment in getting the people outdoors for a variety of purposes, come together and provide inclusive ad accessible outdoor activities for attendees, sharing the goals of their group, and extending an invitation to join.  Participants can participate in opportunities to #getOUTdoors and #getINvolved in those organizations that share their common interests in the outdoors.  A beneficial offshoot of the event is the amount of networking that happens between the groups during the event.  Wild About Outdoor Learning Society would like communities throughout British Columbia to have the experience of pulling together like-minded outdoor enthusiasts within the community.  

Throughout British Columbia, the place we are located defines our understandings and outdoor pursuits.  Wild About Vancouver takes place in Stanley Park, due to our fortuitous relationship and support of Vancouver Parks and Recreation.  Although many Vancouverites have grown up going to Stanley Park, many of us do not know the stories and understandings of the Squamish people who lived there for thousands of years prior to the incorporation of Vancouver in 1886.  My understanding of the park changed phenomenally when my friend Latash Nahanee shared the stories of his Squamish family.  Certainly this Indigenous knowledge is necessary to understand the place. Heavy industry in False Creek changed the water quality and animal life able to survive.  Friends of False Creek aspire to restore the water quality to levels that support life.  OceanWise and SeaSmart also teach groups about sea life and efforts to protect them.  The Trek Program, championed by Kate Inch and students in the Vancouver School Board and the Outdoor Program at Homma Elementary School championed by Meg Zeni in the Richmond School District provide options that allow students to learn and grow in outdoor contexts, as do outdoor programs for younger students like Compass Outdoor Learning, Fresh Air LearningMuddy Bootprints, and Saplings Outdoor Programs.   We also had the support of BCLCILA, the British Columbia Literacy Council (Provincial Chapter of the International Literacy Association) and Frontier College in engaging students in literacy activities outdoors and putting amazing outdoor learning books into the hands of kids for free. The groups coming together were particularly powerful because they provide local options for participation.  

Moving forward, Wild About Outdoor Learning Society would like to provide the support required so these kinds of events continue in Vancouver and also take place in other communities in British Columbia.  Our support and affiliation from The Institute of Environmental Learning has been helpful in reaching out to other communities.  Most recently, I participated in a roundtable discussion about outdoor learning curriculum in Prince George at the University of Northern British Columbia in my capacity as Executive Director of Wild About Outdoor Learning Society.  Fingers crossed for a Wild About PG event.  In the meantime, the pursuit of funding from supporters such as ParticipACTION and new funding sources continues, as well as the plans for our very own book – Wild About Outdoor Learning – The Inspiration, The Possibilities, and the Facts About Outdoor Learning.

Wild About Outdoor Learning Society meets on the first Wednesday of the month in the Exploration Room at Science World at 3:45 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend and participation of supporters is encouraged.


Special thanks to the Southern Interior Land Trust for the tech support.

Gratitude to all of our supporters and donors. Follow this link to a full listing.

Our relationship with Science World is integral in exploring the answers to our inquiry questions inspired by time spent outdoors. Our goal is for there to be an understanding of the fluid relationship between learning indoors and learning outdoors.

Kids Books 2 Support Outdoor Learning

Circling Bald Eagles in our midst!

Wild About Vancouver 2022 in Stanley Park included a booth sponsored by the B.C. Literacy Council. Hundred books, mostly for children, were given away to support outdoor learning. Following is an annotated bibliography of some of the favourites. These would be a great addition to Take Me Outdoor Week, and throughout the coming year. #getOUTdoors #getINvolved

BC Literacy Council – Outdoor Learning Book Recommendations – June 2022

100 Endangered Species (2021) Hudson, RachelOne page per endangered species, filled with concise information that leaves you with lots of questions to pursue answers too.   
100+ Activities for everyday outdoor fun: Nature Activity Book for little ones (2022) Lewis, SamanthaA book of nature activities designed for children 2 – 5 years old.  Puppets, birds, games and fairy homes.  Lots of fun. 
A Great Big Night (2020) Inglis, Kate & Bisaillon, JoseeWhen three travelling frog musicians roll into the forest on their bikes, most of the forest animals are ready to party.  It takes some time and a big storm to convince the grumpy Grouse to appreciate what these travelling musicians bring with them on their travels.  
A Yoga Jungle (2013) Mylod, Brigid; Peyrow, Rameen & Garcia, Roger The illustrations of trees, flowers, animals, birds, bugs and waterfalls provide instruction for children on how to do basic yoga moves.  There is a follow up with instruction in the philosophy of yoga and directions to do seventeen basic postures.   
All Creation Represented:  A Child’s Guide to the Medicine Wheel (2017) Perrault, Joyce & Mar, TerraJoyce Perrault is an Anishaabe educator who has engaged learners in teachings of the Medicine Wheel for many years.  This book looks at balance and harmony in life through a First Nations lens.   
Be Prepared (2018) Brosgol, Vera & Longstreth, A. (colour)Vera had always wanted to go to summer camp like her friends.  Russian Camp was not what Vera expected.  This camp tale combines the author’s move from Russia to the USA when she was 5 years old and some of her actual camping experiences when she was a kid.   
Be Thanksful for Trees (2022) Ziefert, Harriet & Fitzgerald, BrianSeven reasons to value trees are presented in this fun books that demonstrates divergent thinking to push the readers’ thinking.  
Best Hikes and Nature Walks with Kids In and Around Southwestern British Columbia (2022) Hui, StephenAn autographed copy of this new release.  I love this book.  A variety of hikes for a variety of ages of kids, with a variety of skill levels and complete with fun facts.   
Bird & Squirrel On the Edge (2015) Burks, JamesA book from the Bird and Squirrel series.  The decision to save a baby bear from wolves, leads Bird and Squirrel on a hair raising journey over the mountains to reach home safely   
Bird & Squirrel:  All or Nothing (2020) Burks, JamesAnother book from the popular Bird & Squirrel series.  Pressure from Bird’s father taps into Bird’s insecurities.  Squirrel helps Bird to be true to himself and they win the day with perseverance, sportsmanship, and integrity.  
Bird & Squirrel:  All Tangled Up (2019) Burks, James Another book from the popular Bird & Squirrel series.   Red leaves Birdie in the care of Bird and Squirrel so she can tend to Grandmole while she’s sick.  Birdie leads them on a quest to track down Bigfoot. 
Bird & Squirrel:  On Fire (2017) Burks, JamesAnother book from the popular Bird & Squirrel series.  Squirrel and Bird are delighted to be back in their forest home.  Squirrel wants to clean but Bird wants to party.  Red joins the scene and becomes invaluable in saving the day after beaver’s dam dries out the forest, to disasterous consequences.   
Bird & Squirrel:  On Ice (2014) Burks, JamesAnother book from the popular Bird & Squirrel series.   
Bird & Squirrel:  On The Edge (2015) Burke, James Another book from the popular Bird & Squirrel series.  
Bird & Squirrel: On The Run! (2012) Burks, James Another Bird & Squirrel adventure book.  A wild and wacky road trip with squirrel, Bird, and Cat in pursuit. 
Bug Scouts Out in the Wild (2022) Lowery, MikeA Bug Scout adventure in five short chapters.  A bug, a worm, a lightning bug, and a spider set out to earn badges while following the Bug Scout oath.   
CAMP (2019) Miller, Kayla Willow and Olive come to Camp Acorn Lake as best friends but will they leave that way.  As they navigate new people and new experiences, they also learn what they value.   
Cici’s Journal (2012) Chamblain, J. & Neyret, A.Originally piublished in French.  Cici’s journal reveals the day to day happenings of her life along with her quest to discover the secrets of those around herwithout compromising her integrity. 
City Streets Are For People (2022) Curtis, Andrea & Fitzgerald, Emma This book focuses the attention of kids on sustainable transportation in their community complete with glossary and resources.   
Cloudwalker (2014) Henry Vickers, Roy & Budd, Robert & Henry Vickers, Roy”The salmon, the animals and the forest are all interconnected and the rivers run through them.”  A beautiful book that speaks to the interconnectedness of nature and our responsibility to preserve it for future generations.   
Deep Roots:  How Trees Sustain Our Planet (2016) Tate, Nikki &  This book uses photographs and text to depict the importance of trees to many facets of our lives.  It also celebrates the joy that trees bring to our lives.   
Etty Darwin and the Four Pebble Problem (2021) Soloy, Lauren”Walking is a wonderful way to contemplate big questions.” A story about how Charles Darwin and his eldest child, Etty, walk their oval, thinking path, called “The Sandwalk,” every day, each grappling with their own big questions.  A wonderful way to explore imaginative thought and the process of logical analysis.  Fiction 
Finding Wild (2016) Wagner Lloyd, Megan & Halpin, AbigailThe author poses the questions, “What is wild.  And where can you find it?”  We follow the main characters, a boy and a girl, in pursuit of it.  Imaginative and engaging. 
Forest (2019) Moss Gamblin, Kate & Patkau, KarenA See to Learn series book that started as part of the authors doctoral research in sustainability learning.  Young learners are taken throughout the four seasons in the forest and encouraged to look closely. 
Forest Magic – A Guidebook for Little Woodland Explorers (2021) Grindler, Sarah & Grindler, SarahAn invitation to explore the magic of the forest.  Intended as a non-fiction guide for young explorers.  Finishes with an invitation to ask more questions and go into the forest to answer those questions.   
Forest Magic:  A Guidebook for Little Woodland Explorers (2021) Grindler, SarahForest Magic is written for young children by an author who grew up surrounded by nature on Salt Spring Island.  It directs attention and asks questions to prompt new discoveries.   
Four Winds (2019) Bowden, Michael & Jules, KelseyThe curious Qelmucw (person) from the Secwepemc Nation must persevere to find balance admidst the forces of the winds coming from four different directions, with the consistent support of Tree.  A story that reflects the importance of The First People’s Principles of learning.  The author is a long time member of the British Columbia Literacy Council of the International Literacy Association and we are so proud of his contribution.  
G.O.A.T. Soccer Teams (2021) Doeden, MattPart of the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time Teams) Series:  Soccer Teams.  Soccer is the world’s favourite sport.  Epic moments of teams throughout the world. 
Grasshopper (2021) Ukhova, TatianaA wordless picturebook inspired by a childhhood memory of the author.  A story and illustrations that captivate the imagination. 
Hello, Crow (2020) Savage, Candace & O’Byrne, ChelseaSometimes when you go out into your backyard and you are very quiet, a whole new world can open up to you.  A crow begins to bring Frannie little gifts.  Can you be friends with a crow? 
Hideaway Cove (2016) Boreham, Brenda & Timmermans, LauraHidaway Cove on the Pacific Northwest Coast shelters many interconnected species that comprise a healthy marine eco-system.  Gorgeous illustrations intermingled with factual knowledge. 
How To Spot a Sasquatch (2018) Torres, J. & Grand, AurelieNot all Junior Rangers believe in the Sasquatch.  That doesn’t stop Jay in his search.  Both author and illustrator live in Canada.   
In The Red Canoe (2020) Davidson, Leslie A. & Bifano, Laura A story of a grandfather and grandchild and the wonders that canoeing provides.   
Jake Maddox Graphic Novels:  Basketball Camp Champ (2020) Maddox, Jake Ana’s dream of going to summer basketball camp comes true.  Will she learn to ask for help before she loses her confidence?  As with all Jake Maddox a section is devoted to creating a better understanding of graphic novels.  A history of women’s basketball and it’s legends is also included.   
Jake Maddox Graphic Novels:  Soccer Switch (2017) Maddox, Jake Andre has been looking forward to summer vacation soccer league.  When the coach retires, the replacement throws the team for a loop with his unusual training routines.  There are important lessons to be learned by the team.   
Listen to Our World (2016) Martin Jr., Bill & Sampson, Michael & Sweet, Melissa “Can you hear the sounds of our world?”  A call to pay attention and listen closely to hear the animals.  Beautiful illustrations depict animals from eleven different habitats around the world. 
Little Wolf (2021) Spathelfer, Teoni & Davies, Natassia”Finding nature in the city made Little Wolf feel happy and more at home.” p.6. So this is what this almost 10 year old girls does to cope with her move to the city.  Vancouverites will recognize many familiar places in this picturebook.   
Live Sustainability (2022) Boyle, Angela & McClaine, LesFrom the Maker Comics Series. 
Long Distance (2021) Gardner, WhitneyVegas is faced with all kinds of challenges.  Moving.  Leaving her best friend.  And summer camp that just keeps getting stranger.   
Love Our Earth (2021) Cabrera, Jane A nature counting book with colourful illustrations for preschool and early primary students.  
Love Our Earth (2021) Cabrera, Jane A nature counting book with colourful illustrations for preschool and early primary students.  
Maker Comics:  Grow A Garden (2020) Frederick-Frost, Alexis There is lots for Will, Violet, and Basil to learn at Garden Gnome Academy from the most unpopular teacher in the school  including how to make a compost bin, seed pots, potting mix, a growlight shelf, a cold frame and a container garden.  I’ll be trying out the insecticidal soap on my lemon tree.  I learned tons from Mr. Butternut!  Factual information delivered in fun graphic novel format.  
Maker Comics:  Live Sustainability (2022) Boyle, Angela & McClaine, LesWhat Isaac thinks is punishment actually turns out to be real learning including:  how to make a rain barrel, a composting worm farm, cereal box notebooks, beeswax food wrappers, a bee garden and bee bars, food cantainer flower pots, t-shirt tote bags and cute cutlery packs! 
Maker Comics:  Survive in the Outdoors (2021) Lawrence, Mike A book in the Maker Comics series.  Sophia and Alfonso head off to a fishing trip with their Abuelo.  No cell service.  No cable.  No background knowledge about surviving in the outdoors.  Luckily their grandfather is able to teach them all they need to know about building a buddy burner, making a compass, fishing, building a campfire, basic first aid, purifying water and making a shelter.  Amazing but true!  Complete with straightforward directions.   
Mapmakers and the Lost Magic (2022) Chittock, Cameron & Castillo, AmandaA gripping adventure of how two children are the only ones able to save their community from the evil Night Coats.   
Martin and the River (2022) Lappano, Jon-Erik & Bisaillon, Josee Martin loves his river in the country where he spends countless hours enjoying nature.  His family needs to move to the city for his Mom’s new job where he finds animals in markets and museums.  His joy returns when he discovers a neighbourhood park with a stream to rekindle his imagination and the possibility of new discoveries in nature. 
Meet Your Family Gikenim Giniigi’igoog (2021) Bouchard, David & Cameron, KristyIndigenous ways of knowing are conveyed through Mother Earth, Father Sky, Grandfather Sun, and Grandmother Moon in poetic verse.  The author’s end goal is to broaden our perspective to see the world as our natural family.  An Ojibwe Language Learning Guide is included inside the picturebook.  
My Dog Banana (2021) Brouillard, Roxane & Sagramola, GiuliaIs it a dog or is it a banana.  You be the judge. 
Nuptse & Lhotse Go to the West Coast (2020) Asnong, JoceyTwo cats, a younger sister and older brother, go on an adventure of discovery, to return Salish, a Purple Ochre Starfish, back home.  Bright colourful illustrations and journey that takes them from Granville Island, around Vancouver Island and up to the Haida Gwaii.  
Off The Beaten Track (2021) De Kerangal, Maylis & Haugomat, TomThis book was originally published in France in french.  Ten year old Tom discovers his inner strength on a hiking trip. 
Off the Beaten Track (2021) Dekerangal, Maylis & Haugomat, TomThis book was originally published in France.  Ten year old Paul goes on a mountain hiking expedition that brings out his inner strength.   
Oil (2020) Winter, Jonah & Winter, JeanetteThe true story of the Valdez Oil spill in 1989 and the devastation caused by the oil spill.  Picturebook format but content that can be explored in intermediate and secondary school.   
On My Skis (2016) Winters, Kari-Lynn & Leist, Christina A perfect book for preschool and early primary skiers.  Vancouverites will recognize the setting as Grouse Mountain.  
On The Nature Trail (2018) Yale, Kathleen & Armstrong, JessicaA magnifying glass is included with this book from the Backpack Explorer series.  Nature Patch stickers are included so the reader can place it on a page that has been completed.   
Outside You Notice (2021) Alladin, Erin & Blinick, AndreaChild like observations are followed up with interesting facts.  This book lends itself to discussions of curiosity, imagination, and surprising facts.   
Owly – A Time to Be Brave (2021) Runton, AndyPart of the Owly Series.  First impressions are not always accurate, even in the forest.   
Paws: Gabby Gets It Together (2022) Assarasakorn, Michele & Fairbairn, NathanA story about three girls in Grade 5 / 6 who start a dog walking business.   They need to navigate both the new business and their relationships.  
Protecting the Planet (2020) Spilbury, Louise  & Kai, Hanane “We need to look after our planet, because our planet looks after us.  If we all make small changes to protect the planet, we will see big results.”  p. 27. This book introduces challenges to the environment while maintaining a focus on being proactive.   
Rabbit Chase (2022) LaPensee, Elizabeth & Oster, KCAn adventure story that is reminiscent of Wonderland and requires Aimee to save the land. 
Rebel Girls Champions: 25 Tales of Unstoppable Athletes (2021) Cavallo, F. & Favilli, E. & Ventura, A. & Brittain, K.A book from the Rebel Girls series.  25 true stories of female athletes across the globe who have left their mark on the world with their tenacity and perseverence. 
Rocket says Clean Up (2020) Bryon, Nathan & Adeola, DapoGrampy tells Rocket about the plastic ruining the island and the ocean habitat.  She organizes a clean-up crew and uses the plastic trash to create an artistic bin to remind everyone on the island to keep the beach clean.   Complete with suggestions about how you can help clean up the beaches.  Reduce.  Go organic.  Dispose of trash properly. 
Sammy Squirrel & Rodney Raccoon: Far From Stanley Park (2022) Lawrence, Duane & Clover, Gordon It’s party time in the forest.  A fun personification of forest animals partying. 
Scaredy Squirrel In A Nutshell (2022) Watt, Melanie Part of the Scaredy’s Nutty Adventures.  An atypical squirrel who is always preparing for disaster makes even the most basic task an adventure to be conquered.   
Science COMICS:  Trees:  Kings of the Forest (2018) Hirsch, AndyPart of the Science COMICS series.  “If an organism is aware of a situation and can choose the best action to take, it has intelligence.” p. 18. Read this graphic novel and ask yourself, is a tree smart? 
Show Us Where You Live, Humpback (2021) Young, Beryl & Kikuchi, SakikaThis beautiful picturebook explores the connections between a young boy and the humpback whale.  A Vancouver author who first saw the humpback whales swimming off the west coast of Vancouver Island.   
Show Us Where You Live, Humpback (2021) Young, Beryl & Kikuchi, SakikaA beautiful picturebook that parallels the little boy growing up on land and the humpback whales growing up in the ocean beside him.  Vancouverites will recognize the West Coast setting.  
Sing in the Spring (2022) Fitch, Sheree (verse) & Plestid, DebSheree Fitch’s verse as winter transitions to spring.  Quilting and paint artwork is an amazing accompaniment.   
Sir Ladybug (2022) Tabor, Corey R.Sir Ladybug and friends’ quest includes trying to escape being eaten by a chickadee.  This graphic novel is sure to be popular with the Grade 1- Grade 4 readers.   
So Imagine Me:  Nature Riddles in Poetry (2020) Davies, Lynn & Park-MacNeil, ChrissieA fun guessing game with nature clues.   
So Imagine Me:  Nature Riddles in Poetry (2020) Davies, Lynn & Park-MacNeil, ChrissieWhat Am I?  Each poem provides clues to answer this question about something from nature.   
Soccer Superstar (2020) Terrell, Brandon & San Juan, Mel JoyPart of the Jake Maddox Series.  Javier Moreno strives to learn the balance between being a superstar on the soccer field and being a team player.  A nice addition on the role of forwards, midfielders, defenders and the goalie is included at the end.   
Spotlight Soccer (2015) Sanchez, Ricardo & Waryanto, IanA Sports Illustrated Graphic Novel for Kids.  Franco wants to play professional soccer.  His new school and his new team require a new strategy.  The glossary at the back is to assist comprehension.  The “visual questions” support understanding of the illustrations in graphic novels.   
Stay, Little Seed (2020) Valentini, Cristiana & Giordano, PhilipThe story about why the little seed has to let go of the safety of the tree.  It also serves as an example of why taking a risk allows the adventure to begin.   
Sunny Makes A Splash (2021) Holm, J.L. & Holm, M. & Pien, LarkAnother book in the series about Sunny.  The community pool offers a reprieve from what is looking like a disasterous summer.  As a kid I was quick to discover that public pools were infinitely more interesting than private pools.   
Swim Team:  Small Waves, Big Changes (2022) Christmas, JohnnieExcitement about starting a new middle school is soured by an elective Bree really doesn’t want – Swim 101. 
Taan’s Moon:  A Haida Moon Story (2014) Gear, Alison & van der Heiden, KikiTaan’s Moons tells the Haida legend of the changing seasons through the perspective of a bear using poetry.  Kindergarden students worked with the author and a visual and fibre artist to create raw felt illustrations.  This beautiful book includes Skidegate Haida and Old Masset Haida.   
Taking Care of Mother Earth (2021) Aleck, CelestineCoast Salish Series:  Coast Salish teachings about how to take care of the earth. 
The Aquanut (2021) Heinerth, Jill & Kim, Jaime The author shares her path from little girl with a big imagination to becoming an underwater explorer, care diver, and photographer. 
The Biggest Puddle in the World (2019) Lee, Mark & Dion, NathalieGrandpa and a rainstorm teach Sarah and her younger brother about the water cycle. Gorgeious water inspired illustrations. 
The Book of Selkie (2020) Corr Scott, BrianaThis fantasy story of the “seal folk” or selkies, is from Scotland and comes complete with paper doll and clothes. 
The Bug Girl (2020) Spencer, Sophia w M. McNamara & KerascoetSophia Spencer always loved bugs.  The other kids didn’t really understand or appreciate Sophia’s passion until it became a national news story.  This fourth grader shares her story and connects with entomologists that fuel her interest and learning.  A true story and lots of information about bugs! 
The Busy Beaver (2016) Oldland, NcholasThe Busy Beaver’s carelessness wreaks havok in his life, the lives of his friends, and in the forest.  Discover how the Busy Beaver makes amends.  
The Cedar Tree:  The Heart of Our People (2020) Aleck, Celestine Coast Salish Series:  Beautiful phographs depict the many uses of cedar in Coast Salish culture.   
The Great Blanket of Moss (2020) Aleck, Celestine & Good, JoelCoast Salish Series:  The legend of how moss came to be.  Mother tree must take action to protect her young trees when they offend Snow.   
The Gruffalo and Friends:  Outdoor Activity Book (2021) Donaldson, Julia & Scheffler, AxelA collection of the favourite outdoor activities of “The Little Wild Things” in a West Oxfordshire woodland.  A fun resource for use with young children. 
The Outdoor Scientist:  The Wonder of Observing the Natural World (2021) Grandin, TempleTemple Grandin, scientist, is able to bring the light to what STEAM means in outdoor explorations.  A resource book including 40 projects for kids.   
The Sasquatch, The Fire and the Cedar Baskets (2020) Dandurand, Joseph & James, Simon DanielOnly a Sasquatch and cedar baskets stand in the way of the great fire devastating the forest.  Told in the tradition of the Kwantlen people.   
The Science of Surfing:  A Surfside Girls Guide to the Ocean (2021) Dwinell, KimSam and Jade take the reader through everything ocean including the physics, the biology, strange ocean phenomenon, how to surf and how to be a good stewrad of the ocean.  A wealth of information presented in engaging graphic novel format.   
The Sharing Circle (2016) Larsen-Jonasson, Theresa “Corky” & von Innerebner, JessikaTwo red foxes are best of friends until the big argument.  Buffalo takes a gift of a braid of sweetgrass to the wise and mighty Great Horned owl, called Kokum, to request a sharing circle.  Kokum teaches the animals how this Indigenous tradition can be used to problem solve by creating a place of listening and respect. 
The Way of the Hive (2021) Hosler, JayThis graphic novel is masterful.  Written by a biology professor, it skillfully weaves together the story of Nuki’s (“bee” in Swahili) life as she proceeds to “Go forth to adventure” along with everything you ever wanted to know about bees.  I finished the book and wondered why I didn’t start caring about bees sooner.  Perfect for intermediate aged students or secondary students looking for a way to convey content area material. 
The Wonders That I Find (2022) Ward, Meghan, J. & Odynski, TayGeneva and her teddy bear go off on a hike with her parents.  They are in a hurry to get to the summit.  Geneva has lots to teach them about pausing to notice on the hike.  For a preschool and early primary audience.   
Tokyo Digs A Garden (2021) Lappano, Jon-Erik & Hatanaka, KellenTokyo, a boy who lives in a city, is inspired by the stories of his grandfather and plants a garden.  This book was given the Governor General’s Literary Award.  A perfect way to explore environmentalism and the imagination. 
Trees:  Kings of the Forest (2018) Hirsch, AndyPart of the Science Comics series.  Acorn has a lot to learn about trees.  A fun story that conveys an incredible amount of factual information about trees.  
Trudy’s Healing Stone (2019) Spiller, Trudy & von Innerebner, JessikaA picturebook sharing First Nation knowledge of the Gitxsan Nation in British Columbia for a preschool / early primary audience.  Grandmother shares that a stone can is a gift from Mother Earth to help us process difficult emotions.   
Trudy’s Rock Story (2017) Spiller, Trudy & von Innerebner, JessikaTrudy is from the Gitxsan Nation.  Her grandmother, ts’iits, is a knowledge keeper.  She shares wisdom from ancestors, including how Mother Earth can help you deal with powerful emotions.  This comes in handy when Trudy fights with her brother.   
We Are the Water Protectors (2020) Lindstrom, Carole & Goade, MichaelaA book about water inspired by many Indigenous-led movements across North America to protect water from harm and corruption.  The text and illustrations give voice to the animals, plants, trees, rivers, lakes and oceans that rely on water.   
What’s Sprouting in My Trash?  A Book about Composting Capstone Press (2013) Porter, EstherIntended for preschool to early primary students.  Accompanied by vivid photographs and a clear explanation for the rules and process of composting. 

Be sure to tag @takemeoutside @WildAboutVan @BCLiteracyCoun1 when you post your outdoor activity.

Binoculars 101 for a Closer Look


On my first foray into birding, I proudly remembered to grab a set of binoculars to fit in with the “real” birders.  Rather than my antique binoculars making me part of the group, I actually set myself far, far apart from the group.  The leader politely offered to lend me an extra pair that she had in the car.  Apparently, there are things to know when selecting the perfect pair.  Another part of this unknown world of birding.

Yet, even with the better binoculars, I was at a loss to locate the darn bird through the lenses.  My initial preference was the spotting scope.  A trusty leader was quick to locate the bird.  All I needed to do was line up for a look.  Yet, could I see myself packing this large piece of apparatus?  Probably not.  

I resolved myself to buy binoculars.  Clearly this was something that would take some research.  The question 8 X 32 or 8 X 42 or 10 X ? or something else?  How much to spend?  What brand?  The most pertinent learning.

The first number is the magnification.  The 10 may provide better magnification but it is hard to hold your hands still enough to benefit from the increase in magnification.   May this is something like yoga, where balancing on one leg comes from practice.  

The second number is the size of the lens.  Bigger number.  Bigger lens.  Heavier to carry but captures more light, important if you live in a temperate rainforest with many overcast days and large conifers providing maximum shade.   I did discover a work around from my birding buddies. There is a strap that goes around your back so that the strap from the binoculars doesn’t dig into your neck.  Available on Amazon. Very serious looking!

Gull with a yellow beak with black circle around it.  Yellow legs.  White chest.  Gray back.  Black tips on tail feathers.  Eyes are not dark but yellowish therefore this is a Ring-billed Gull not a California Gull.  So much to know.  Up until this year, I called them all seagulls.  The consumer of my not yet finished fish and chips at Jericho Beach when I wasn’t on guard.

Big bird on the top of a very tall Douglas Fir at Spanish Banks.  A Blue Heron.  Usually, I sight these birds further away in the ocean or in a man-made water feature in a golf course.  With the binoculars, the bird stretches to full height and enters the realm of magnificence.  His beak open and closes like he is singing his heart out, although he is too far away to hear a sound.  

I have learned that like anything, I have to practice with the binoculars.  I need to be looking at my target spot before I raise the binoculars to my eyes.    Then I have the best chance of discovery, and the best chance of the sense of awe that comes with each new discovery. 

Goose Rules of Leadership

Photo by John Patrick

I woke not to the plaintive call of gulls or warring of crows, but by a very large flock of Canadian Geese.  Although many geese feel completely comfortable not leaving our hospitable city, many Canadian Geese are heeding their internal monitors and flying south for the winter.  I never tire of watching the perfect V-formations as they make their journey.  I’m infinitely intrigued by the taking of turns in assuming the front and centre position of the V.  

Leadership is only easy to those who never assume it.  Taking the responsibility as a leader is always work.  The direction the energy exerted, varies widely according to leader.  Some leaders focus on to holding on to their perceptions of power, prestige or privilege.  Other leaders are motivated by a quest to make a positive difference in their orbit.  But when that lead goose takes the position at the front of the V-formation, they are working harder than any of the other geese.  They take the brunt of the wind resistance with purpose.  

The other geese are able to fly a little above the bird in front of them, so they reduce wind resistance and conserve energy.  They can flap their wings less, keep their heart rate down, and therefore are able to fly far longer before needing a rest.   When the leader at the front gets tired, that bird falls back, making Canadian Geese a fine example of distributed leadership.  Allowing another bird to take the lead happens fluidly.  There is no evidence of a struggle to maintain that lead position. The bird falls back to recharge.  The new leader is given the support of the group.

I have watched group after group decimated by a leader that holds on to a leadership position so long that it becomes part of their identity.  They are not able to pass the torch to anyone else without losing themselves.  This makes the quest to hold on to that position even stronger until the only option for other possible leaders is to take their contributions elsewhere.  We could learn from the geese and allow others to step forward with their own brand of leadership and way of moving forward.  

Distributed leadership allows support also to be provided by the group.  The structure of the group and the communication is also integral to the successful functioning of the group.  The honking that woke me up this morning is encouragement to the other geese to stay in formation and fly at the same speed.  The approach is that of a supportive coach as opposed to a harsh taskmaster.  The V-formation lends itself to the ability to monitor each of the geese in the “gaggle” aka “the flock”.  If a bird falls away from the group, two other groups break away from the group to fly with it.  They honk encouragement to keep going and even stay with sick birds until they are strong enough to rejoin the group.  Every bird is important.   If the bird is unable to recover and dies, two other birds are by its side.  The whole group takes responsibility for caring for other members and can depend on being supported if needed.

The leader is included in the support and encouragement of the group.  The other group members can count on the same treatment when they assume the leadership role.  Communication is encouraging.  Support is given freely when needed.  Sniping, backbiting, and undercutting power does not serve a purpose and does not detract from the functioning of the group.  Imagine!

Hierarchical structures emerged based on the notion that someone needed to assume leadership for the best functioning of the group and to move forward with goals.  Someone does need to assume responsibility and move the group forward.  However, a Distributed Leadership model is more likely to tap into the strengths of all of the group members, and create a collaborative and supportive context, rather than competitive model.  I think we would be wise to follow the Goose Rules of Leadership.   


Take Me Outside Week is Coming

Wild About Outdoor Learning celebrates and encourages people of all ages in British Columbia to #getOUTdoors and #getINvolved in activities to prompt their general well-being, physical health, mental health, learning about nature and caring for it.

Take Me Outside Partners

Wild About Outdoor Learning is fully in support of the upcoming

Take Me Outside is one of the partner groups in our network making a difference in the lives of Canadian children. TMO believes in a future where spending time outside learning, playing, and exploring is a regular and significant part of every student’s day. Take Me Outside works collaboratively with other organizations, school boards and individuals to encourage children and youth to spend more time outside through various projects and initiatives. In 2021, 8,900 educators and nearly 400,000 learners across Canada joined in on Take Me Outside Day.


A week of activities, speakers, and events

OCTOBER 17 – 21, 2022


Wild About Outdoor Learning Society

OCTOBER 17, 2022 – Eventbrite ONLINE SESSION

HOST A WILD ABOUT OUTDOOR FESTIVAL IN YOUR COMMUNITY Postponed until a later date / Stay Tuned









By registering for the Take Me Outside for Learning Challenge, you will also receive 20% off  Take Me Outside educator apparel, 5% off at the Outdoor Learning Store, along with a chance to win many more prizes from TMO and partners!

Be sure to tag @takemeoutside @wildaboutvan @BCLiteracyCoun1 #getOUTdoors #getINvolved #TMO #TakeMeOutsideDay2022 when you post your outdoor leaning endeavours on social media.

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