The West Coast’s pristine landscape offers an abundance of educational opportunities for local youth. (Photo - Raincoast Education Society)

Unique outdoor education coming to Ucluelet

Raincoast Education Society’s Field School has been a hit in Tofino.

After three successful years in Tofino, the Raincoast Education Society’s field school program could arrive in Ucluelet.

“We’re still hammering out the details, but our goal is, in September 2018, we’re going to offer field school in every grade at Ucluelet Elementary,” RES executive director Mark Maftei told the Westerly. “We know that it’s a success in Tofino and we just wanted to just jump in with both feet. We’re going from zero to 100 on this. We’re not going to grow it. We’re going to start big and we’re going to start offering the exact same program.”

The program combines the B.C. Science curriculum with outdoor, hands-on, experiences and field school instructors work hand-in-hand with teachers to create unique and relevant weekly field trips.

“Kids love this stuff…Everyone can appreciate that it’s just a much more meaningful learning experience if you can do something hands on and experience it first hand rather than reading about it,” he said. “You’re living in a pristine natural environment where you literally can walk out of your classroom and in five minutes be on the dock looking at a food-web, instead of reading about a food web in a textbook.”

The program costs roughly $42,000 to run and longtime RES supporter Jamie’s Whaling Station jumped at the chance to support a field school in Ucluelet.

“That pretty much turned the project from a hopeful possibility into a reality overnight. We couldn’t do it without Jamie’s,” he said.

Jamie’s Whaling Station’s General Manager Corene Inouye told the Westerly in an email that the company was delighted to support the field school program in Ucluelet, as it has in Tofino since the program’s inception.

“We did not hesitate to increase our total contribution this year to $30,000 so that both communities could realize the benefits of this important educational initiative for our youth,” she said. “Ultimately, it’s not just about operating a successful business, which enables our west coast families to be gainfully employed, but also about continuing to foster and grow our long term community partnerships and being leaders in the support of education and conservation in our Pacific Rim region.”

Maftei noted RES relies on community support and corporate donations and he has been thrilled to see West Coasters cover the Society with love.

“People have a much deeper appreciation for the natural world and they’re much more invested in managing it,” he said. “We’re really grateful to be working in a community that sees the value in what we do and support it. They put their money where their mouth is. They come out to events. They donate. They’re there and that’s really nice.”

Anyone wanting to help the Society’s efforts can reach out through their office at the Tofino Botanical Gardens or visit their website at www.raincoasteducation.org.

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