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Teacher Outdoors
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Wilderness Park:
Environmental Education in Our Own Back Yard

Wilderness Park provides a wonderful opportunity for outdoor nature studies within minutes of ‘downtown’ Bobcaygeon in the City of Kawartha Lakes. This beautiful mature forest is home to many majestic White Pines, Bur Oak, Yellow Birch, Sugar Maple and numerous other native tree species.

The forest is also host to a wide variety of beautiful flowers. Blooming times vary depending on the species. Spectacular and dense colonies of our provincial wildflower, the White Trillium, bloom in mid-spring to take advantage of the light before the leaves of the taller trees begin to grow. Orchids, like the Yellow Lady Slipper, can be seen blooming in the middle of the summer. The large leaved Aster blooms late summer to early fall.

Wilderness Park is also home to many bird and insect species. If you listen carefully, you might hear the enthusiastic drumming of a woodpecker drilling holes to access the ant and beetle larvae that make up their diet. Some, like the Pileated Woodpecker, also drum on trees to attract a mate or proclaim their territory. If you are lucky, you may also spot a fox, deer or even a moose.

A main educational feature of Wilderness Park, is our beautiful pollinator patch or bee garden. Unfortunately, Ontario’s bee and butterfly populations are in decline… threatened by pesticides and loss of habitat. Pollinator patches such as this one, (full of Black-eyed Susan, Butterfly Milkweed, Purple Coneflower, Tall Sunflower, Black Raspberry and dozens of other native plants), help to save these insects by providing a safe place to live, forage and nest.

Three groomed trails, (including one which is wheelchair accessible), let students explore nature up close. Numerous signs along the way help students interpret what they find.

The Ontario Curriculum for Environmental Education

Kindergarten: Understanding of/care for our natural world
Grade One: Creating a healthy environment for living things
Grade Two: Growth and changes in animals
Grade Three: Growth and changes in plants
Grade Four: Understanding life systems and species habitats
Grade Five: How the environment affects our health
Grade Six: How to preserve biodiversity
Grade Seven: How humans impact the environment
Grade Eight: Sustainability of our water resources