Sarah, OURSpace Garden Assistant and Special Event Assistant
I’ve only been a volunteer with the Nature Centre for a few months, but I have learned so much during this short time! By helping out with the 2016 summer speaker series, ‘Bats, Birds and Bees’, I have learned about how much biodiversity exists within a large city like Toronto, and what we can do to encourage even more of it. I have also helped out with OURSpace, the Nature Centre’s outdoor classroom, by weeding and helping to maintain the space, as well as training others to do the same. The other volunteers are wonderful; it is so nice to connect with likeminded people. By working in OURSpace, I have also learned about the native plants of the black oak savannah and how unique an ecosystem it is. It is great to be a part of such an amazing organization!
Amma, Assistant Camp Counsellor
I volunteered at High Park Nature Camp for four weeks in July and August 2016. During this time, I was lucky to be able to work alongside a number of different leaders and with children ranging from 6 to 14 years old. As a volunteer it was my responsibility to support the leader of my group and to make sure that kids were comfortable and having fun. On hikes, that meant staying at the back of group to make sure kids stayed on the trail, which always lead to exciting conversations about where we were going and what we would be doing next. At the nature centre, whether playing games, reading stories or doing nature crafts, it was my job to keep a count of the kids in our group, and make sure they had everything they needed. What I loved about volunteering at HPNC was the constant fascination with nature that everyone (leaders and campers) shared. As an avid nature lover myself, I felt at home when we went froglet hunting in the retention ponds or spent fifteen minutes watching a wasp pick up a caterpillar for its dinner. I learned a lot about the plants and animals that live in High Park and also about how to engage children in nature and outdoor education. Everyone at camp was very friendly and excited to share what they saw and learned. As someone interested in teaching science, I found that volunteering at HPNC inspired me to think about ways in which we can instil in children a sense of wonder that can be channelled into learning and nurturing environmental stewardship.
Lena, OURSpace Garden Assistant
Hello, my name is Lena. I live in High Park area for over 10 years. High Park is my most beloved nature space, feeling so grateful for what the park gives me, so much beautiful light uplifting energy all year around. This year I felt a call to find ways to give something back to the park and in June I came across a volunteer opportunity at the Nature Centre. A few times a week I came to weed the newly established OURSpace garden, feeling so close to Mather Earth, so grounded and recharged. I learned a lot about invasive and desired plants in the garden that are equally important to me. I also was fortunate to attend a talk about bees and learned so much about these incredible beings. Nature Centre has so many great programs and initiatives for everyone. Thank you so much for connecting people with Nature!
Ella, Assistant Camp Counsellor
When I was a kid, my favourite camp was always at the High Park Nature Centre, and now, I have been volunteering with them for the past three years. I have helped out at the Decorate A Tree for the Birds events, but most of my time has been spent volunteering with the summer camps. During these camps, I am an assistant leader. I help the main leader of my group with anything they might need. For example, I lead the campers in games, talk with them on hikes, play games in the pool, and make sure they stay safe on the trails! What I love about volunteering with HPNC is that they are like one big family. Everyone there makes you feel like a real part of the family, and it doesn’t feel like work! When I volunteer here I forget I’m even volunteering. I have just as much fun as the campers! And of course, over the weeks, I have learned a lot
about nature in High Park and how to protect the nature in my community. I can guarantee that volunteering—or attending—a nature centre camp is totally worth it, as you’ll learn things you never knew, explore nature and make great memories!
Alanna, Kids Club Assistant and Special Event Assistant
High Park has always been a playground for me – a little serenity away from this concrete jungle. Once I discovered the High Park Nature Centre in fall 2015, I was eager to jump in as much as possible. My super active schedule as an Arts Educator didn’t leave me room to get involved in the weekly programming right away, but I got a taste of its greatness by supporting special events like the Decorate a Tree for the Birds. Supporting the 2016 Halloween Howl and Pumpkin Float events have been a real treat as I got to embrace my inner-child and dress up as a gnome, in need of a home. This year, with more control over my schedule, I’m delighted to be supporting the Wonders of the Woods program along with staff Chantale and Julie, and a group of very enthusiastic young naturalists. I’m growing in new nature and survival knowledge every day. Together we’ve built walking sticks, observed plants, animals and insects in a respectful way – even experimented with building our own water filters using found materials like banana peels and stones. Some days I’ll be buried in a blanket of fall, other days participating in survival games and identification. Thanks to the High Park Nature Centre, I now know how to distinguish a white pine and blister beetle! Looking forward to whatever my next visit brings…