Parks alone are not enough to save at-risk species.
As we continue our species at risk blog series this summer, we’ve been able to share stories of the amazing species that call the parks home and the work being done to protect them.
Now we want to introduce you to the new superhero team taking over in Ontario: 4th graders!
From costume changes to keeping your alter ego mellow, being a superhero is hard work!
But through virtual programming, we have found a way to build a community of species at risk (SAR) superheroes.
Since September 2021, grade 4 classes from Ottawa to Toronto, Sudbury to Sarnia and everywhere in between have come together to help at-risk species in Ontario.
So far, more than 7,000 students have participated in a free, two-part virtual school program offered by Ontario Parks Discovery staff.
What does it mean to become a SAR superhero?
Becoming a superhero of an at-risk species requires some training.
First, students participate in a training session presented by an active SAR superhero: Ontario Parks Discovery staff.
During the virtual sessions, students put themselves to the test, learning about different species at risk in Ontario, exploring their habitats and the threats they face.
Students are then challenged to put their learning into practice to prove they have what it takes.
How?, you ask.
These fourth graders defend their species in front of their classmates, the school, and their Ontario Parks Discovery ranger.
Completing this challenge is no easy task!
Students begin by choosing an at-risk species to research.
Learn about bees by highlighting the yellow-banded bumblebee
Using their new knowledge, they must find a way for people to better share the places where humans live and their SAR.
To put it all together, students teach others about their species by creating an awareness poster.
All this in preparation for the SECOND part of your virtual program!
Here, students take on the role of “teacher” and present their posters to their peers and Ontario Parks staff.
Our Discovery staff can’t get enough of the teamwork, creativity, and attention to detail that students put into each poster!
Most notable are the collaborative actions that the students proposed and that we can all do to help maintain these species for future generations.
We all can and should keep an eye out for Massasauga rattlesnakes and other reptiles crossing the road!
Share your knowledge about superpowers with others.
Becoming a superhero is not where every fourth grader’s commitment to endangered species ends.
The students committed to sharing their work in their school and communities to help others become SAR heroes too! Their incredible posters were placed in hallways, dining rooms, libraries, and gyms.
The species at risk signs were so amazing that Ontario Parks staff committed to sharing them in all parks too!
Look out for these signs in select locations this year!
Your students can become SAR superheroes too!
To the teachers and students who have participated and taken on the challenge, we extend our sincere thanks!
We’ve had a great time connecting and learning with you and are thrilled to share your work with Ontario.
To all the other students and teachers who want to become endangered species superheroes: get ready to dust off your capes and thinking caps! It’s time to join the growing community of fourth graders helping at-risk species during the upcoming school year.
Once program registration opens, you can enroll your class in a program here: Ontario Park Discovery School Programs
Want to learn more about species at risk and the work park staff and community members are doing? Read our blogs featured in the Species at Risk series!