Planning New Programs

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Hands on learningHow do you take the best from the past 40 years and extend it to a wider community? As Mossom Creek Hatchery settles into its new facility, the Board of Directors is defining their vision for the future. As part of that process, the Board recently hired Cleone Todgham for a three month term as Program Coordinator and Planner for the Hatchery. Specifically she is working with Founders Rod MacVicar and Ruth Foster as well as President Tracy Green on a plan to increase the Hatchery’s ability to provide programs, events, and information to a broader community.

For almost 40 years Rod and Ruth have demonstrated the effectiveness of hands-on learning; fostering a sense of stewardship through direct experience. Cleone’s task is to capture some of their expertise and translate it into sustainable programs that can be offered to more people. As she puts it, “The vision is to continue the hatchery’s role as a place of wonder, joy, and nature exploration and discovery for all ages.”

Charles and CleoneCleone is already very busy – gathering best practices from similar organizations; assessing various outreach possibilities that the Hatchery might wish to be involved in; writing a grant for funding additional display materials; inviting Tri-City schools to pilot curriculum-based programs; and documenting Ruth and Rod’s successful techniques and lessons. This organizational work and testing is essential as the Board intends to hire a Naturalist in the New Year.

Meanwhile, it’s exciting to see these expanded learning opportunities in action. Recently Charles Huang (a past member of the Centennial School’s Salmon Club) brought 17 of his ESL students to the Hatchery. Most of the students (ages 15-20) came from large Asian cities and were disconnected from nature. Ruth and Cleone took them on a walk through the forest with Ruth writing the names of keywords such as ‘watershed’ and ‘moss’ on cards, helping them with their English as she introduced them to the forest’s secrets.

Ballet at MossomNoting that the students love technology, Cleone suggested they use their phones to take photos of ‘cool’ things. Later while Ruth took them through the hatchery, Cleone used the centre’s WiFi to pull together the students’ pictures and create a slideshow. The students then watched their nature ‘discoveries’ on the large screen while they had lunch. These techniques, along with several other hands-on activities, helped the transfer of knowledge even with a language barrier – a most successful day.

Cleone’s background is ideal for this role. Raised in the Maillardville district of Coquitlam, Cleone received a degree in Biology from SFU and then worked as a naturalist and manager with Parks Canada in Jasper for some 17 years. She then started a successful company that reached over 10,000 people a year. When Cleone returned to BC, she received a Masters in Environment and Management from Royal Roads as she continued her consultancy work, both locally and internationally. As she reports, “I’ve loved working with people and nature all my life.”

The future looks bright as Mossom Creek Hatchery develops the ability to extend its 40 year tradition of hands-on learning and stewardship to a broader audience.

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