The Regional Municipality Of York


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Outdoor Education

The more that you learn the more places you will go. By Dr.Seuss

York Region offers a number of outdoor education programs designed for clubs, community groups and schools to connect people with nature and inspire action. 

Author James Raffan once said, “Learning about nature is no substitute for learning in nature.”

Nature's Classroom

Nature’s Classroom is a fun and informative outdoor education program offered to a wide variety of groups and organizations including clubs, community groups, large families and schools.

Held in the York Regional Forest, these educational sessions are designed to teach participants about the forest ecosystem and its importance to our community. Each session includes a guided forest hike.

Programs are 1.5 to 2 hours in length and are available for ages 4 and up.

Eligible group size: Minimum of 10 to a maximum of 25 participants (including adult supervisors)

Available programs:

  • Wild about Wildlife - Learn about the different types of animals that live in the forest, how to find signs of them, and engage in stories and folklore. Offered year-round
  • Nighttime Wonders - Use your senses to smell, hear and see the forest at night. Offered October through to April
  • Fit in the Forest - Learn different ways to stay active in the forest. Offered year-round for ages 16 and up
  • Nature by Snowshoe - Explore the forest on snowshoes and learn about their origin and cultural significance. This program requires snow.  Offered December to March, weather permitting
  • Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre tour with forest walk - Explore the Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre to discover the features of its sustainable design.  Enjoy a guided walk to experience the history of the forest while learning how it supports a healthy community.  Offered year-round
  • Other - Customized programming including badge requirements for Scouts and Guides may be accommodated, on request.  

Programs are designed to suit the needs of many different types of groups including:

  • Scouts and Girl Guides
  • Seniors
  • Naturalists
  • Persons with disabilities


This program is provided at no cost.


To register or learn more about the program, please fill out an online application. You will be contacted by the program facilitator.

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Adopt-a-Stream Crossing Program

Through the York Region Adopt-a-Stream-Crossing program, school and community groups have the opportunity to help restore forest cover and habitat in-and-around streams near Regional roads.

Activities include:

  • Tree and shrub planting
  • Litter pickup
  • A classroom visit upon request

Adopt-a-Stream Crossing program volunteer hours count toward the Ministry of Education’s required secondary school community service hours in Ontario.

We supply:

  • Planting and restoration instruction and guidance
  • Trees and shrubs for planting
  • Safety vests, gloves and shovels
  • On-site safety instructions for working around busy roads, water and uneven ground

Group responsibilities:

  • Wear clothing appropriate for the weather and sturdy footwear on the day of the planting
  • Group leaders are responsible for participant organization and ensuring safety standards are met


This program is provided at no cost. If a bus is required for schools, registered charities or non-profit organizations, the cost can be paid by York Region.


Events take place between:

  • April and June (spring planting season)
  • September and November (fall planting season)

To register or learn more about the program, please fill out an application form. You will be contacted by the program coordinator.

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envirothon montage

What is Envirothon?

York Region Envirothon is part of the province-wide, and the larger, North American-wide Envirothon program. It is an interactive, outdoor environmental education program for youth in grades 9 to 12. York Region Envirothon is held over two days; a workshop day and a fun competition day.

  • All material is tailored to fit Ontario curriculum and Ontario specific activities and scientific information.  Learning activities relate to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
  • Envirothon promotes teamwork, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Envirothon is a hands-on environmental education program of Forests Ontario. A province-wide network of educators and resource professionals delivers this program through resource materials, field trips, workshops and competitions.
  • Over 15 regional competitions take place across the province every year, with winnings teams from each Regional competition moving on to compete at the Ontario Envirothon Championship, which takes place in May. From there, champions compete at the North American Envirothon Competition in July.

The winning team of the York Region Envirothon will receive a gift certificate, courtesy of Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (LEAF), for planting a tree, shrubs or garden kit for your school.

To learn more about this exciting Ontario Envirothon program, please watch this Growing Tomorrow’s Green Leaders video.

Who Can Participate?

Students in Grades 9 to 12, including ecoteams, homeschool groups and other community organizations such as Pathfinders or 4-H clubs, can participate. Teachers or leaders can register teams of five students.

Download the Teacher flyer to hand out at your school.

York Region Envirothon - Workshop and Competition Days

Teams are required to participate in both the workshop day and competition day, which will be held at the state of the art The Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre in the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville.

Workshop Day

Thursday, April 19, 2018, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Regional Competition Day

Thursday April 26, 2018, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

  • Teams must have adult supervision at both the workshop day and competition day
  • Reimbursements for transportation will be provided upon request

Participants are required to dress appropriately for spending the day outdoors, realizing that April weather is unpredictable.

How Does the Workshop Day Work?

Workshop days provide students with opportunities to learn and interact with the outdoors. Natural resource professionals will run hands-on learning on various topics at workshop stations including soils, aquatics, wildlife, forestry and this year’s special topic – climate change. Students will rotate through stations to develop practical, hands-on, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills related to environmental issues.

How Does the Competition Work?

A friendly competition is held on the second day of the event and allows students to apply the knowledge and skills learned at the workshop day.  Competitions follow the general format laid out below:

  • Five eco-stations focused on the Envirothon core topics (Forestry, Soils, Aquatics, Wildlife and Climate Change): Teams rotate through the various stations to complete questions, testing their knowledge, as well as hands-on activities (e.g. forest surveying, etc.).
  • Presentations focused on the Envirothon current issue of the year, “Climate Change” Teams are given time to prepare a presentation. Students must evaluate and analyze the problem presented while relating it to Ontario Envirothon topic areas.

Winners will be announced at the end of the York Region Competition Day. The winning team will compete at the Ontario Envirothon Competition, taking place on Sunday, May 27, 2018 to Wednesday May 30, 2018 at the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario.

How to Register

Register online through the Forests Ontario website.

  • Space is limited
  • Registration cost is $175 (including HST) for York Region teams.
  • Registration costs are subsidized by Forests Ontario and York Region.
  • Teams registering before February 19, 2018 will receive a 20 per cent discount.
  • The deadline to register is March 23, 2018

Free Study Guides And Webinars

Study Guides and webinars are available to help prepare students for their local competitions and the Ontario Envirothon Championship. Study guides and webinars can also be used by teachers for high school lessons to introduce key ecological concepts like carrying capacity, soil profiles, forest management, water quality assessment and much more. Lesson plans may offer interactive modules to support STEM.  

Congratulations to the 2017 York Region Envirothon Champions

In 2017, eight schools with 11 teams competed in the York Region Envirothon. We would like to congratulate all participating schools:

  • Markville Secondary School – Winner of the 2017 Regional Championship Title
  • St. Elizabeth Catholic High School
  • Bur Oak Secondary School
  • Stouffville District Secondary School
  • Richmond Green Secondary School
  • Pierre Elliot Trudeau High School
  • St. Augustine Catholic Secondary School
  • Our Lady of the Lake Catholic College School
2017 York Region Envirothon Champion:

Markville Secondary School students are the 2017 winners

Contact Information

For more information, please contact Access York at 1-877-464-9675.

Related Resources

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Tree Bee

What's all that buzz about trees?

Tree Bee is an exciting tree identification and forest awareness competition for youth in grades four to six. Teachers, Girl Guide, Scout and 4-H Leaders are invited to take part in a fun interactive event which inspires kids to get excited about trees, forests and nature.  The program encourages participants to learn about tree identification and general forest knowledge. They then gather at the annual competition to show off their Tree ID skills!

Get students excited about trees, forests and nature as they learn to identify trees and test their forest knowledge against other teams in the Tree Bee Championship. The winning team will receive a tree planting for their school.

  • There is no cost to participate
  • Open to York Region students in Grades 4 to 6
  • Homeschool groups, Scout and Girl Guide groups, 4-H Clubs and other community organizations are eligible to compete
  • Teams must have adult supervision at the event
  • One to four students per team
  • Maximum of 20 students per school or organization

How Tree Bee Works

The York Region Tree Bee competition is held annually in partnership with Forests Ontario. The next York Region Tree Bee competition will be held on Tuesday, November 7, 2017.

Participants will learn about tricks and tips to identify species of trees in Ontario. Teachers and group leaders will be provided with resources to bring tree identification to the classroom or meeting place, in an effort to prepare competitors for the Regional Tree Bee competition.


Please register through Eventbrite. Space is limited.

Contact Information

For more information, visit the website or email

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Related Resources

Nature’s Classroom,outdoor education,group,scout,girl guide,forest,hike The Regional Municipality of York en-US Outdoor Education Outdoor Education York Region offers outdoor education programs to connect people with nature and inspire action. Activities include education in the forest, tree planting at stream crossings and fun forestry competitions.

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