There's always something new to discover at FortWhyte Alive.
Nature offers us a place to find wonder and explore curiosity. It is not limited by time or confined by walls. Its rhythms resonate deep within us. For kids, and adults too, nature is the greatest playground. With all its diverse structures, smells, and textures, its offerings are limitless.
At FortWhyte Forest School, we see how each season has a rhythm all its own. We listen and let it guide school.
As the months go by, nature provides new wonders to remind us of the ever-turning cycle of life. The transforming magic of the first snowfall and the excitement of the first spring blossoms. The warmth of summer rays on the skin and the crunch of fall leaves underfoot. These are just some of the joys that nature shares with us.
We can see the many ways that being outside enriches our lives: we might find we sleep more deeply after a day in the woods, or notice a lift in mood after a few lungfuls of fresh air.
And the same is true for kids.
Nature offers so many opportunities for growth through risk-taking, freedom, learning and amazement. Through it, children become more relaxed, focused, and equipped to face what's ahead of them.
As we each grow with the seasons, each season offers new opportunities for discovery.
Summer at Forest School means slowing down to savour a more relaxed pace. We soak up the warm sun and set out to discover the world around us. We test our own boundaries by ducking through bushes and climbing up trees, building freedom and confidence.
Autumn’s deepening colours brings admiration and awe from all of us. We learn how the seasons run through a cycle and discover changing habitats for nearby animals. We follow our eyes and ears to see where nature guides us, going on new adventures everyday.
As winter freezes over we draw sharp breaths of crisp, fresh air. We learn how to prepare for the season, and how plants and animals survive with their own kind of winter coats. We cover every inch of the outdoors following animal tracks, with time for sledding, snow forts, and bonfires in between.
We welcome spring as a reminder that the cycle begins again. Wet snow turns into enticing puddles and we invite each other to jump in. We watch as worms and weeds emerge from the ground and learn the importance of each in nature.
In Forest School, the changing seasons don’t stop our play - it encourages it. With each day comes new opportunities, developing a child’s ability to adapt and create.
Nature leaves a certain impact on every child that spends time in it, growing them into more confident, capable, and independent adults. The empathy they develop for the environment in Forest School lasts a lifetime, creating stewards of the land in every pocket of the city.
Registration for Winter Forest School is now open!
Meet Mavis, a FortWhyte volunteer who helps children connect with nature through our Forest School Program.
After a career in Early Childhood education and teaching on the topic at Red River College, joining Forest School was a natural fit.
Why do you think Forest School is important?
It lays the foundation for children to learn at the preschool age, and it develops a sense of awe and wonder for the natural world. Although my own children weren’t in Forest School growing up, I had them spend a lot of time outdoors as kids and I see the lifelong benefits it has given them based on the choices they make and careers they’ve chosen.
What’s been the biggest difference between teaching adults at Red River College and children at Forest School?
Before I would learn mostly through reading textbooks and was doing all the teaching for the students. Now, I’m always learning from the children at Forest School.
Do you have a favourite memory from Forest School?
Last winter we had a beautiful situation. We were walking in the forest and Hunter, one of the students, was pointing out deer beds to the other children and teaching them about it. Then he began to gather sticks to pretend to build a fire, which sparked a conversation for the whole group and eventually led into building a real fire.
It’s a direct example of Forest School’s philosophy of child-led and child-inspired learning.
From all of us, thank you Mavis for your commitment and motivation to create change in our community. Your dedication to the Forest School program will help children build a connection with nature.
Head to fortwhyte.org/volunteering to learn more and apply today.
Place a love note on our Wetland Boardwalk Trail, a meaningful gift perfect for graduation, weddings, and other milestone celebrations.
Your personalized plaque will be placed along one of FortWhyte’s best known and most loved trails, a floating pathway through a lively wetland ecosystem that boasts a diversity of flora and fauna. The trail is the ideal spot to stroll — or to simply pause, relax and reflect.
Boardwalk plaques are a long-time favourite gift for:
Proceeds from your gift are directly invested in the landscape that makes FortWhyte Alive a magical place for people like you and your family.
Boardwalk plaques are stainless steel, measure 5” x 2” and allow up to three lines for your personalized message. At $125 each, you will receive a $90 tax receipt and a complimentary family day pass so that you may come to visit your special part of this beautiful trail.
Thanks to you, Gary found his purpose through FortWhyte Alive.
As you know, those who connect with nature are the ones able to create change.
Because of you, our volunteers have a place to find purpose and build towards a better future.
“It’s important to have a purpose after retirement. Meeting new people, learning new things, and giving back has all been so rewarding.”
- Gary Franzman, Volunteer
Volunteering is just the beginning. Like many connected to the FortWhyte community, Gary discovered an unknown passion of his just by spending time in nature. It allowed him to quickly build connections with others to further create change in the community. And he wouldn’t have been able to do it without your investment in FortWhyte.
Because of you, our volunteers are able to connect to other like-minded people to contribute to a greater cause.
We wouldn’t be able to support our volunteers without your passion for the environment. Together, we can continue to connect humans with nature to work towards a sustainable future.
We’re inspired by you! Your passion and participation prove that every one of us can make a difference as we work towards a more sustainable future. Together, we can continue on a path to change by connecting humans with nature!
Check out more stories of change in our 2018 Impact Report.
FortWhyte Alive’s lake edges are quietly undergoing a magical transformation, thanks to a bit of human effort and some amazing native plants.
FortWhyte Alive is a 660-acre space for humans to connect with nature--but it hasn't always been this way.
Our 5 lakes were excavated during Canada Cement's clay mining operations starting in 1911, leaving steep shorelines and a barren landscape. Although today our shorelines host a variety of grasses and perennials, the steep banks continue to be prone to slumping and erosion. To combat this problem, FortWhyte has been gathering groups of volunteers to help improve our shorelines.
Expert advice from Manitoba Conservation Districts Association has us using native willows (Salix spp.), which quickly grow massive root systems to hold soil together. Willows are amazing shrubs, which already grow abundantly on FortWhyte’s property.
Our willow clipping crew meets up and heads out to clip hundreds of stems for shoreline restoration sessions. Stems are soaked in water for 14 days or more, and on planting day, we push the stems into the ground near water so that only about a thumb length appears above the soil surface. Over time, these willows will grow to help maintain a naturally stable shoreline.
With these instructions, why not try to harness this botanical magic and plant your own willows on a shoreline in your own backyard or at the cottage? You’ll protect your property from erosion, and help support a healthy environment.
Interested in being involved in shoreline restoration at FortWhyte Alive? Join FortWhyte Alive and Seine-Rat River Conservation District’s Chris Randall on Saturday, October 5 from 10:00 am-3:00 pm to help install innovative natural erosion control materials and plant living willow stems.