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Ralph Klein Park and Environmental Education Centre

Name of organisation:

Calgary Parks, Environmental Education Portfolio

Funding support: Municipal Government

Number of staff: 7

Number of visitors per year: 40,000

Overall aims of the centre

Programming will:

– Promote awareness of local and global environmental issues
– Provide individuals with relevant knowledge and skills
– Promote sustainable actions
– Allow individuals to reflect upon their personal environmental impact

Description of the centre

The city’s newest legacy park is a 30 hectare park which serves as an island of the much larger 200 hectares that make up the man-made Shepard Wetland.  This wetland is Canada’s largest engineered stormwater treatment wetland, which plays a significant function in maintaining the health of the Bow River Watershed.

Ralph Klein Park is home to the Environmental Education & Ethics Centre a 21,000 sq ft facility that was created to bring citizens of all age groups together to learn about their surrounding environment.  This LEED Gold-standard building has been recognized as a project that has demonstrated a commitment to sustainability by meeting higher performance standards in environmental responsibility and energy efficiency. Inside this facility you will discover two well-equipped classrooms,  viewing roof, and meeting and convention facilities.  The facility will serve as the hub of the park which also includes learning gardens, an orchard and green roof, wetland viewing and study stations, an outdoor amphitheatre (not currently accessible), walking trails, and large picnic and day use areas.  Each component of this building was created with an educational purpose to promote environmental stewardship and sustainability.

Main CEPA work areas

Calgary Parks – Environmental Education Portfolio staff delivers innovative, inquiry-based learning which help citizens recognize environmental issues, promote stewardship and sustainability, and provide citizens with the necessary tools to protect and improve their natural surroundings.  In addition, they promote ecological literacy and action through critical analysis and reflection of local and global issues. These learning opportunities will help enable citizens to understand their personal importance in the wise conservation of their natural surroundings.   We look forward to the opportunity to assist local and international citizens in doing their part to ensure the sustainability of their natural world for generations to come

Top three successes

Calgary Parks environmental education programs focus on engaging students in the natural world and allowing reflection on how human actions have an impact on the environment. Through providing knowledge and an appreciation for the natural world, we are creating a new generation of environmental stewards.   

A new natural playground will open at Ralph Klein Park in 2018. This playground will allow children to connect with the natural world through play and creativity.

Ralph Klein Park is a hub for sponsored wetland programming, including the Mud Between My Toes program (sponsored by ConocoPhillips Canada), and the Caring For Our Watersheds program (sponsored by Agrium Inc.). These programs educate youth about the watershed, water conservation and stewardship and introduce students to the concepts of water conservation and project-based learning.  

Top three challenges

Awareness – Due to the fact that Ralph Klein Park is located on the periphery of the city, it is not as well-known as some other parks.   

Accessibility – As the park is not on a transit route, accessibility can be a challenge for citizens without access to a vehicle.

Inclement Weather – Accessing the park can be difficult during extreme winter storms

Our education activities have been a huge success.  This is due to our action-based approached to learning.  We find that individuals learn best when they are able to apply and reflect upon new knowledge and skills they develop in a particular area.

Interpretation techniques

Creating signage; Site information; Written materials; Audio-visual tools; Nature trails

Visitor centres

Managing / creating habitat; Running a visitor centre; Building / maintaining structures

Participation

Engaging hard-to-reach groups; Engaging young people; Engaging the local community;

Working with volunteers

Education and communication

Early years education; Adult education; Working with primary and secondary schools; Developing resources / materials

General

Auditing / assessing effectiveness; PR and marketing; Running effective administration; Health and safety.

Marlis Eaton, Calgary Parks, Ralph Klein Park, 12350 84th Street SE, Calgary AB, T3S OA4.

Website address:

www.calgary.ca/parks
 

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