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Youth Programs

by Shannon Chernick and Elaine Ehman

In April 1990, Society volunteers in co-operation with Regina area schools took 350 children on nature walks along the shores of Wascana Lake during National Wildlife Week. Other youth programming in the 90s included NR volunteers putting together 200 bird feeders with Scouts and Guides, and the 59th Scout Troop joining NR members as willing volunteers at Hidden Valley.


Nature Regina was a keen partner in organizing Friends of Wascana Marsh’s first Wings over Wascana festival in 2005. NR members continue to be enthusiastic volunteers at WOW, particularly with the free nature-based activities for school children. 

In 2008, the conservation grant paid for 44 Sibley Field Guides for the Wascana Young Naturalists, then led by Jared Clarke. Young Naturalists joined NR fieldtrips and were invited to attend monthly presentations. Wayne Pepper led a group of school children from the RSM summer camp on a hike through the natural habitat area of Wascana Marsh in 2009. 

According to Nature in Trust, over the years, “There would be a spurt of [youth] activity with impressive results, followed by a lull, a discussion of ways and means of interesting youth, then another leader would appear bringing a revival of interest” In 2020, that leader was Shannon Chernick. 

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Wandering Wednesdays & & Get Outside! Kids Club 

In April 2020, Nature Regina contracted Shannon Chernick to find ways to get more young people involved in the organization. April 2020 was the beginning of the COVID-19 international pandemic which resulted in the world shutting down.


While hiking with her then 12-year-old, a few weeks into the pandemic, Shannon was inspired by her son Damon’s comment that “we should take pictures of all of the cool places in Regina and post them on the internet so that more families can check them out”. From there, Wandering Wednesdays was born! 
Shannon and her two children, Damon and Graham and husband, Bryan created 35+ Get Outside! Outdoor Adventure Guides for little known parks and open spaces in and around Regina. Each Wednesday, a new edition was released on Nature Regina’s social media and dubbed as “Wandering Wednesdays”. They had the help of many Nature Regina volunteers including Dale Hjertaas, Gail Fennell and Kim Mann to identify wildlife, plants and insects. Over 350,000 people viewed Wandering Wednesdays over 2 years. 
In September 2020, all institutions in Regina were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many parents were choosing to have their children learn from home. In Regina, over 3,000 kids were learning from home including Shannon’s own children.

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Shannon knew that spending time in nature was essential to her own children’s positive mental and physical health. From this understanding, the Get Outside! Kids Club was born. 
Nature Saskatchewan and SaskOutdoors joined Nature Regina to offer this free outdoor learning and exploration program for children between the ages of 6 and 13 and their parent/caregiver. 
Each week during the pandemic, children and their parent/caregiver gathered in a different park or open space to participate in hands-on, nature-based activities and a guided hike. The hands-on, nature-based activities in the spring and fall included predator-prey games, migration obstacle course, pond dipping, guided nature hikes by expert birders, learning about Indigenous plants and the plant life cycle, nature scavenger hunts, outdoor science experiments, learning about wildlife through animal tracks, scat and other signs of wildlife, owl hide and seek, orienteering, Indigenous games, nature arts and crafts and more. The activities during the winter included snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, learning what happens under the snow and ice, birdwatching, predator-prey games, snow sculpting, playing in the winter kitchen and winter snow and art activities. 
Many partners came together to lead activities during these sessions including the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Friends of Wascana Marsh, Birds Canada, Art Gallery of Regina, Wascana Centre and the Saskatchewan Orienteering Association. Volunteers spent hundreds of hours helping out with these activities during the pandemic to ensure we could follow the public health orders that were in place. 


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In the fall of 2022, the Get Outside! Kids Club transitioned to a program that was offered on weekends and school holidays. In 2023, Nature Saskatchewan expanded the program to Saskatoon. 
In the first three years of this program in Regina, over 7,000 kids and their parents participated in the Get Outside! Kids Club. Survey results indicated that families that participated in the program were almost 100 per cent likely to return to that park or open space to explore on their own later. Eighty percent of participants indicated that participating improved their physical health and almost ninety five percent indicated it improved their mental health for that day! 
Nature Regina is extremely grateful to the City of Regina for continuously funding the Get Outside! Kids Club from 2020 to 2023. We are also grateful to the Community Initiatives Fund, Nature Canada, Sask Lotteries and the Every Bite Affects the World – Local Action Award for providing funding for the program.  

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