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Sir William Osler gets back to nature

École Sir William Osler students explored nature in their own backyard.

On Feb. 4, two FortWhyte Alive representatives visited Sir William Osler to deliver outdoor education to its students.

Barret Miller and Minna Goulet of FortWhyte Alive led students on an adventure of their schoolyard and William Osler Park, teaching them about the trees and wild animals that live in the area.

An all-day event, Miller and Goulet spent an hour exploring the outdoors with each Sir William Osler classroom.

“The principal and the parent council approached FortWhyte because we value outdoor learning. We can’t have students coming to FortWhyte this winter, so we’re going on the road,” said Miller, FortWhyte’s tourism and custom programs coordinator.

“We’re just helping connect kids with their neighbourhood nature a little bit more. I think in the city we often times just assume nature isn’t here, but it’s actually all around us. It’s the nature that we see the most often, so it’s important that we connect with it.”


While it might not be obvious to the untrained eye, Miller said Sir William Osler’s schoolyard and William Osler Park are teaming with wildlife.

“In this park today we saw evidence of a northern flicker bird and we heard a blue jay, which I learned en franciais c’est un geai blue,” Miller said.

“We also heard chickadees and we saw signs of flying squirrels, red squirrels and grey squirrels. And that’s just a handful on a blustery day that we’ve seen. Nature is all around us all the time.”

Livinia, a Grade 3 student at Sir William Osler, said she learned that the blue jay is a bit of a schoolyard bully.

“I’ve learned that blue jays steal nests from other birds,” Livinia said.


In conjunction with FortWhyte Alive’s visit, the Sir William Osler playground committee designed an “enchanted forest” using donated natural Christmas trees.

Despite the cold and windy weather, no Sir William Osler students or staff were complaining about learning outdoors. 

“One of the things I’ve learned from Barret from FortWhyte is there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. I took his advice this morning and layered up,” said Dominique Ostermann, Sir William Osler’s principal.

“At our school we have the Polar Bear Club. When temperatures dip below -27 C, we’re supposed to stay indoors for recess, but parents and students can sign up for the Polar Bear Club and we’ll take them outside right up until -39 C.”

Miller is happy that Sir William Osler students and staff are willing to brave the cold to learn about their environment.

“At the end of the day I just want them to feel a bit more connected and understand that this is a habitat that we share with the natural world,” Miller said.


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