Interpretive Centre & Lake, FortWhyte Alive
Number of staff: 23 Full time, 15 Part time
Number of visitors per year: 110,000
Overall aims of the centre
FortWhyte Alive is dedicated to providing programming, natural settings and facilities for environmental education, outdoor recreation and social enterprise. In so doing, FortWhyte promotes awareness and understanding of the natural world and actions leading to sustainable living.
-Offer, as a primary focus, relevant programming that focuses on the dynamic interactions and interdependency between humans and natural systems
-Offer outdoor recreational experiences that encourage individuals to enjoy, understand and sustain the natural world
-Offer enhanced program opportunities for disadvantaged youth and families to participate in environmental education, outdoor recreation, and entrepreneurial programs
-Offer exhibits that interpret Manitoba’s cultural and natural history and address critical environmental issues
-Offer outreach programs that build and nurture sustainable communities
Description of the centre
FortWhyte Alive is situated on 640 acres of diverse habitat within Winnipeg’s city limits, and includes five reclaimed clay-quarry lakes, — acres of cattail marsh and willow swamp, 100 acres of forest, 80 acres of tall-grass prairie.
FortWhyte is the best birding location within the city limits, with over 160 songbirds, waterfowl and other species recorded annually. Common wildlife include white-tailed deer, coyote, muskrat, mink, raccoon, woodchuck, jackrabbit, and Western Painted turtles, red-sided garter snakes. Fish common in the lakes include Northern Pike (Esox lucius) and Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens). Exhibit/captive animals include Burrowing owls, black-tailed prairie dogs and Plains Bison.
The not-for-profit organization has three main program streams that strive to promote awareness and understanding of the natural world and actions leading to sustainable living:
Environmental education: a combination of over 100 school and public programs offered year round.
Outdoor recreation: FortWhyte’s lakes and seven kilometres of trails offer a setting for kayaking, sailing, fishing, hiking, biking, skiing, ice-skating, tobogganing and wildlife viewing 364 days a year.
Social enterprise: FortWhyte Farms works with at-risk, inner-city youth, using the practice of sustainable urban agriculture to build confidence and leadership skills, provide employment training, and instil values of self-reliance.
Main CEPA work areas
FortWhyte Alive offers 50 school programs linked to educational curricula around ecosystems, outdoor recreation, environmental awareness and cultural awareness.Active on social media
Top three successes
Wood duck box program: Declining wood duck populations in Winnipeg in the 1970s led to the development of a program for FortWhyte Alive members with riverbank property. Wood duck nesting boxes are installed and maintained by volunteers annually. Wood duck populations have recovered well along Winnipeg’s rivers.
Innovative Public & School Programming: eg. Sunset Goose Flights programming: In September and October each year, we host dinners at our onsite Café and public presentations around watching the spectacle of thousands of Canada Geese coming in to rest for the night on our lakes. School programs include the development of curriculum linked programs around wetlands and water quality. Most programming is run by trained volunteers as well as educational staff.
Partnerships with Universities and research institutions: A new MOU with the University of Winnpeg and ongoing connections with University of Manitoba, International Institute for Sustainable Development have resulted in innovative research onsite including cattail bioplatforms for phosphorus uptake, water quality studies and the installation of an onsite wastewater treatment system in 2001.
Top three challenges
Funding: It is important to have a diverse stream of funding to continue to run a non-profit organization, and to not be over dependent on government sources. FortWhyte’s funding comes from memberships, program fees, as well as private and corporate donations and grants. About 15% of our funding comes from government sources.
Creating signage; site information; Producing written materials; Developing nature trails
Setting up a new visitor centre; Managing / creating habitat; Running a visitor centre; Building / maintaining structures
Working with disabled people; Engaging hard-to-reach groups; Engaging young people; Engaging the local community; Working with volunteers
Education and communication
Early years education; Delivering adult education; Working with primary schools; Working with secondary schools; Developing resources / materials
Auditing / assessing effectiveness; PR and marketing; Running effective administration; Health and safety; Fund-raising; Project planning.
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