Connecting Youth with the Land
Millard Learning Centre Vision
The Galiano Conservancy Association envisions a world in which resilient people meet their needs in vibrant communities through a healthy interaction with the land. We can achieve this vision by strengthening the connections between individuals, communities and the natural world they depend on. To develop these vital relationships, it is essential to provide our youth with quality, experience-based outdoor education.
Several days in a natural setting with inspirational teachers can change the directions of a young person’s life. Galiano Island is an extraordinary place to observe and experience the natural world, offering daily interaction with eagles, sea anemones, and arbutus trees – species not often encountered in urban life. It has been suggested that youth are suffering from “Nature Deficit Disorder”, “a condition caused by the cumulative human costs of alienation from nature, including diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses.” (Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods, 2005).
The Millard Learning Centre enhances traditional disciplines such as science, geography, history and the arts by providing hands-on examples of how this learning is relevant to everyday life. Youth apply skills in literacy and numeracy when taking part in activities ranging from biodiversity monitoring studies to reflective writing. The Learning Centre also provides participants with opportunities to build a sense of community, personal leadership and life skills. The Conservancy will create life-changing learning experiences for inner city and marginalized youth, and will be open to people of all ages and backgrounds.
Since 2000, over 7000 youth ages 4-18 have participated in our education programs, and nearly 23,000 benefited from our program at the Montague Harbour Nature House from 2002 until 2009. The capacity to host youth for more than a daytrip, however, will exponentially increase the impact of our programs.
“This educational opportunity is truly unique since many have never ventured far out of their immediate neighbourhood, let alone traveled on a ferry or visited an island. Many of our students have expanded their goals and career options because of this experience.” Dorothy Mills, teacher, Second Street Community School
“The transformation of school kids in nature is an amazing thing. You think you know someone at school. Then you see them in nature, and they’re totally a new person. That happened to me when we were on Galiano, my friends turned into different people. They were not only asking me about nature, but they really cared.” Hillary, Grade 6, David Lloyd George Elementary
Check out a Shaw video capturing a school group out in summer 2011 – while we were still fundraising to purchase the Learning Centre property.
The Millard Learning Centre
The Millard Learning Centre features proven green technology and infrastructure that is a model for sustainable community living within the natural environment. For example, the facility will get its food from an onsite working farm and balanced meals will be cooked in a communal kitchen. Buildings will be designed for energy efficiency with electricity generated, at least partially, on the premises. Water will be collected onsite and all wastes will be composted or recycled. Every aspect of the facility’s design will serve as an inspiring learning opportunity for youth, fostering enquiry, innovation and responsible use of resources. When not in use by youth, the Centre will double as a retreat venue for urban professionals, scientific researchers, and other interested parties. Fees charged to those who can afford it will help support learning experiences for low-income youth.
Located on the southwest shore of Galiano Island, the Learning Centre property is 188 acres and features over 2 kilometers of waterfront, two seasonal streams, a working farm, wetlands, and over 80 acres of mature forest. It is adjacent to a protected area that features cormorant nesting cliffs and rare peregrine falcon habitat. It is also a key component of the Mid Galiano Island Protected Areas Network, which expands the area available for hiking, education programs and ecological restoration projects. We have been overwhelmed with the strong community and partner support in the acquisition of this property, and are overjoyed that the former owner saw the same potential for the property that we do.
Galiano Island is in southwestern British Columbia, Canada, and has a population of 1200. Located in the Strait of Georgia, between the two urban centres of Vancouver and Victoria, it offers easy access for everyone via BC Ferries. During the 45-60 minute ferry trip students will disconnect from their urban environments and, at the end of their voyage, find themselves transported to a magical yet safe place. The Learning Centre’s location is close to all necessary amenities, but far enough away from urban centres to create a feeling of wilderness. The island boasts unique west coast scenery, and access to ocean, forest, stream and wetland settings. It is the ideal venue for outdoor education as it is a hotspot for both rare and endangered species, attracting visitors from around the world.
- 15 years of successful education programs reaching over 30, 000 individuals
- Strong team of gifted and committed staff, Board and volunteers
- Over 25 years proven property management & financial accountability
- National award winning, large scale ecosystem restoration projects
- Acquisition of the Learning Centre property secured 2012
- Community-inclusive Management plan and Vision complete
- Restoration and education programs at the Learning Centre site initiated
- Off-grid kitchen and classroom building relocated from Salmo, BC and reconstructed as an innovative learning facility at the Learning Centre
The Right Time, The Right People, The Right Place
Your charitable donation will contribute to a legacy of hope for the future among thousands of young people from all walks of life. It will enable us to run multi-day programs with groups that do not have the capacity to organize their own logistics for overnight programs. The groups we have worked with have shown us that participants gain the confidence, skills and optimism needed to learn how to live in harmony with each other and the natural world.