A thriving partnership with Earth Rangers.
April 27, 2023
I’m proud of the Greenbelt. It sounds corny, but it’s true. When I think about things in Ontario that are truly world class, I think about the Toronto International Film Festival, Algonquin Provincial Park, Sick Kids Hospital…and the Greenbelt. The Greenbelt’s current value is enormous, but its future value is immeasurable. Climate change will continue to put pressure on southern Ontario, but the Greenbelt can help ensure we remain resilient in its face. As our population grows, the Greenbelt can ensure that development is done without sacrificing valuable farmland and natural spaces critical to biodiversity, mental health and recreation. Those are just a couple of the reasons why I believe it’s crucial that children learn about the myriad benefits of the Greenbelt and explore all it has to offer.
The Greenbelt’s current value is enormous, but its future value is immeasurable. Climate change will continue to put pressure on southern Ontario, but the Greenbelt can help ensure we remain resilient in its face."
When I arrived at one of our family events on the Ontario Greenbelt last summer, I could feel the energy and excitement among those present. Parents and children were everywhere, taking part in a scavenger hunt and soaking up the sunshine. Kids flocked around the Earth Rangers tent to meet our animal ambassadors, only to quickly run off to the craft table, and then it was up and time to get moving again. Such is the beauty of nature and wide open spaces—it invites kids to let loose and start exploring – or at least run around!
Albion Hills Conservation Area
Hosting exciting and meaningful events like this is just one of the many aspects of our partnership with the Greenbelt Foundation. The main focus of our project “Education and Action in the Greenbelt: Creating the Next Generation of Conservationists in Ontario”, is to increase awareness among families about the Ontario Greenbelt and its benefits. How do we do this? It’s a multifaceted approach.
It starts with taking the story to students across the province. Our school assembly program is delivered to more than 300 schools in Ontario each year, and features a segment about the crucial role the Greenbelt plays in the health of our communities. To date, more than 75,000 elementary students have learned how the Greenbelt’s two million hectares of land provides wildlife habitat, clean air, clean water, and climate resilience for our province. We also provide a follow-up activity for educators, so the discussion can continue after our presentation wraps up. We love hearing from teachers how the assembly and resources help their students understand the importance of being stewards of the environment.
Planting a student garden at an Ontario elementary school
We’re also seeing incredible engagement from Ontario kids through our membership program. Through 6 Greenbelt-themed Missions—Habitat Hero, Just 1 Tree, Stash the Trash, Respect Animals While Recycling, Live Love Local, and Backyard Biologist—more than 10,000 kids have taken action in their own communities through activities like planting trees, leading litter clean-ups, and creating wildlife mini-habitats. This kind of concrete eco-action empowers our young members to affect change, and brings to life the importance of protecting greenspace.
Claireville Conservation Area Tree Planting
Children who participate in Earth Rangers are significantly more optimistic about the future of the planet and confident in their ability to make a difference. This has never been more important, as we increasingly see the impacts of climate change in real time and the corresponding media coverage of our planet becomes more bleak.
Kids need and deserve to feel hopeful and empowered. Important partnerships, like the one with the Greenbelt Foundation, help Earth Rangers shape the next generation of environmental stewards – one eco-action at a time.
We’re looking forward to more events on the Ontario Greenbelt this year. We have activities planned for May around the Provincial Day of Action on Litter. We’ll also be visiting a farm to learn about Ontario agriculture and the importance of supporting local food growers. Earth Rangers members in southern Ontario can watch their inboxes for invitations to these family-friendly events – we hope you’ll join us! If your child is not a member yet, please consider downloading the Earth Rangers App and signing up for our free programs.
Tovah Barocas is the President of Earth Rangers, the largest kids’ conservation organization in the world with over 350,000 members.