The Bruce Grey Forest Festival

By Minerva Cook

Fifteen years ago, Nancy Griffin, Educational coordinator for Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (SVCA), had an idea to educate children about forests in a natural setting. Several years ago she shared her vision with Donna Lacey, Forest Technician, SVCA. They searched for similar projects and found the Aylmer community planning to launch their Carolinian Forest Festival in October 2008. This was patterned after the annual water festivals in Ontario. The one in Chesley was already in it’s10th year and had done well with high school students teaching grade school students. Nancy and Donna contacted various organizations of Bruce and Grey counties and came up with a list that might be sponsors and provide representation for an organizing committee.

In the spring of 2009, 25 people from 15 organizations met as a committee to discuss the feasibility and structure of the project and composed a Project Business plan and a budget for $55,000. October 2010 would be the first of annual events to take place at Allan Park. This would be a hands-on event for 900 Grade 7 students over a period of 3 days with at least 30 activity stations geared to themes such as forest ecosystems, species at risk, conservation and stewardship. High school student volunteers would present the activity and adult volunteers would guide and instruct when needed and generally help to run the plans smoothly. As the vision was taking shape, funding became a challenge. Trillium awarded funds for the salary of a coordinator. Karen Mortimer, very dedicated and qualified, filled the position. Donations came from various businesses and organizations from the community. Our club donated $750 which was welcomed and appreciated.

The vision became a reality on October 19, 20, & 21, 2010. Over 900 students had registered,. 160 high school students had volunteered to present at 31 activity stations, and over 160 adult volunteers functioned in a variety of tasks. Evaluations were generally very positive. Nancy was gratified that her idea worked and established itself although she says that if it were not for the 300 plus volunteers, it would not have happened.

The next festival is being planned for October 2011. Interested community people and club members are welcomed to become acquainted and volunteer for the second festival. I found my involvement with this successful project stimulating, interesting and a great learning experience.

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I the undersigned, wish to have my child
participate in the following activity
sponsored by the Saugeen Naturalists. As part of registering my child, I hereby agree as follows:
1. That I acknowledge that there are inherent risks associated with this activity and that my child could sustain personal injury through participation in this activity and I am hereby accepting to take that risk on behalf of myself or my child.

2. To save harmless and keep indemnified the Saugeen Naturalists and the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority and their respective agents, official servants and representatives against all claims and actions, costs and expenses and demands, in respect of injury, loss or damage or death to myself or my child’s person.

3. That I acknowledge that in this situation volunteers are involved in supervising this activity and that I shall accept the responsibility of observing my child’s participation in this activity and should I have any objection to the manner in which my child or myself are being supervised or instructed, I accept the responsibility to remove myself or my child from this activity.

This agreement shall be binding upon myself, my heirs, executors and assigns.