A budding relationship with the Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) has been to the benefit of the Glenbow Ranch Parks Foundation (GRPF) and its Explore Grasslands Program.
“The collaboration here and the partnership have been absolutely incredible,” said Nathan Foy, program and outreach co-ordinator with GRPF. “We’re definitely happy to have [ABP], and hopefully, we can continue to build this relationship over many years and just keep increasing our outreach.”
The Explore Grasslands Program provides in-class presentations and educational tours of the natural grasslands environment at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, near Cochrane, to Grade-4 classes. The program focuses on environmental and cultural stewardship, as well as the history of native grasslands in Alberta.
Since last year, ABP has provided expertise to the program through its members’ knowledge of ranching history and how cattle’s grazing plays a role in the management of the native grassland ecosystem. ABP has also supported the program by providing material upkeep and signage, according to Foy.
“We definitely appreciate the support [from ABP] so far and I view it as a great success,” he said.
“Not only have we been able to reach out to more students, we’ve actually increased almost tenfold at this point from two years previous, to last year and bookings for this year. With that, we’re able to reach out to hundreds of more students each year to help them and teach them about our native grasslands.”
Because the Grade 4 social studies and science curriculum in Alberta touches on ranching history and ecosystems, the Glenbow Ranch Park is a popular destination for schools to send their fourth grade classes to for some hands-on learning. According to Foy, at least 500 to 600 students from schools in Cochrane, Calgary and Airdrie participate in the half-day field trips offered by the Grasslands Program each year.
“It’s great that they get the preparation in the classroom, but it can give you a different appreciation when you’re actually out here, experiencing it through hands-on programming,” he said. “I like to believe students leave our programming with a more personal connection and stewardship of our land.”
Because of the support from ABP, Foy said, GRPF staff is working on developing the program to cater to older students, as well, to allow students in junior high and even high school to benefit.
According to Foy, the Grasslands Program funs from May 1 until the end of September. The program continues to run for members of the public during the summer months, he added, while children are not at school.
“Normally, when schools slow down, birthday parties definitely start to increase, as well as our public programs,” he said.
For more information on the Explore Grasslands Program, visit bit.ly/2Uq0MXp