Seasonal staff and new settlers to the West Coast should take note that the Tofino Ambassador Program is in full swing and open for registration.
For 2016, the program has been streamlined to feature three, three-hour courses: Introduction to Tofino, West Coast Ecology, and Nuu-chah-nulth Landscape. Participants can easily sign-up online for all three courses, or even just one, depending on what life permits.
“The goal is for people to become educated about the place they live in, have an appreciation for their surroundings and pass a message of stewardship and respect on to visitors to the area,” said Raincoast Education Society (RES) executive director Dan Harrison.
“The general design of the program is aimed at people new to the area to provide consistent messaging to the visitors, but it’s not specifically for people new to the area. There’s a lot of good information for people that have lived here their whole life,” he said.
The Tofino Ambassador Program is delivered in partnership with the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce and is funded by the District of Tofino and Tourism Tofino through the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI).
“It’s a funding source that we get for being a resort municipality. The RMI funding support course as a way of educating frontline staff,” said Harrison.
Jen Dart, who heads up the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, said the Ambassador program provides a unique opportunity for newcomers and locals alike to learn as much as they can about Tofino.
“Many local employers look for prospective employees to take this course so they know the right answers to the many hundreds of questions they’re going to get this summer from visitors,” said Dart. “Also, it’s really helpful for people living here to know the ins and outs of the community.”
Participants who complete all three courses receive an Ambassador Card, which qualifies them for discounts at various local businesses.
It’s another great incentive to take the program, one Harrison said is the grand partnership of how the Raincoast Education Society sees the ambassador program working in the long run.
“The whole idea is that people take the initiative and they take time out of their own schedule to invest in learning about Tofino and the businesses say, We appreciate you learning about Tofino, we will honour you by giving you a locals discount and you will return the favour by letting locals know we are a great business,” Harrison said.
Since revamping the program in 2010, Dart said the number of people taking all three courses has more than doubled.
“The Ambassador courses are taught by knowledgeable and approachable locals, and they contain pretty close to all you need to know about this amazing place,” she said.
Anyone interested in registering for the Tofino Ambassador Program is encouraged to visit: raincoasteducation.org/education-programs.
Courses run through to the end of July, and are held in the Ecolodge classroom at the Tofino Botanical Gardens.