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.”
Through the York Region Adopt-a-Stream program, school and community groups can help restore forest cover and habitat in-and-around streams near Regional roads.
- Tree and shrub planting
- Litter pickup
- A classroom visit upon request
Adopt-a-Stream program volunteer hours count toward the Ministry of Education’s required secondary school community service hours in Ontario.
- 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
- 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
- Upon registration, a COVID-19 screening questionnaire will be required for all volunteers
This program is provided at no cost. If transportation is required for schools, registered charities or non-profit organizations, the cost may be subsidized by York Region if indicated in the comments section of the application form.
Planting takes 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.
Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre
The Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre is located in the Hollidge Tract in the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville. It features a classroom and a boardroom which are used for many York Region programs such as guided forest walks and Nature’s Classroom.
Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre is not accepting bookings until further notice
This unique and inspirational building, the Bill Fisch Forest Stewardship and Education Centre, is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Platinum certified and in 2018 became the first in Canada and twenty-first building worldwide to successfully become Living Certified under the Living Building Challenge. The Living Building Challenge is a program of the International Living Future Institute and is comprised of seven performance areas; site, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty. Some of the innovative features of the building include:
- All wood construction including cross-laminated timbers
- All new wood material used in the building is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified
- Through the use of solar panels, LED light fixtures, heat pumps, radiant heating and triple-glazed windows, the building will generate more energy than it uses
- The building’s canopy gathers rain water and snow melt to service bathroom facilities
- All of the water used comes from the site and is treated and discharged on-site, resulting in net-zero water use
- Much of the building materials were sourced from local manufacturers to reduce carbon emissions
A huge shout out to the Markville Secondary School Team in the City of Markham for placing third in the North American Envirothon Competition held in New Brunswick in July 2023 – well done! Read about their journey since April 2023.
In April 2023, eight teams participated in the York Region Envirothon Competition.
Team 1 from Markville Secondary School in the City of Markham placed first and Team 2 (also from Markham’s Markville Secondary) and Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Academy in the Town of Georgina placed second and third.
The first place team received a commemorative plaque, a gift certificate for Educator Professor Pricklethorn and a $150 gift card for an outdoor education store.
What is the York Region Envirothon?
Learn more by watching Forests Ontario’s video – Envirothon: Growing Tomorrow’s Green Leaders.
Free Study Guides and Webinars – Great for any Classroom
Study guides and webinars can also be used by teachers for high school lessons to introduce key ecological concepts like soil profiles, forest management, water quality assessment and much more.
The York Region Envirothon is held in partnership with Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust, the York Region District School Board, York Catholic District School Board, Forests Ontario and Ontario Envirothon.
Please be advised that Nature's Classroom has been put on hold until further notice. To join the waitlist and stay informed about the program, please fill out the online application form.
Nature’s Classroom is a fun, free and informative outdoor education program offered to a variety of groups and organizations including not-for-profit and charitable organizations, clubs, community groups, families and schools. This program is open to children, youth, adults and seniors.
Held in the York Regional Forest, these engaging sessions are designed to share rich stories of the forest and its importance to our community. Each program includes a guided forest walk.
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)
Programs for all ages
Canada’s First Living Building: Inside and Out — Explore Canada’s first ‘living building’ - 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 surrounding forest while learning how it supports a healthy community. Offered year-round. Recommended for ages 14 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. Recommended for ages 6 and up.
Nature Watch — Do you want to be a citizen scientist? On this walk, you will explore the forest and learn how to report your discoveries. Help local conservation and science efforts by observing plants and animals and sharing data through online applications, while learning more about the nature around you. Offered year-round. Recommended for ages 14 and up.
Nighttime Wonders — When the sun goes down – you should go exploring! Use your senses to smell, hear and see the forest at night. Offered October through to April. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
Wild about Wildlife — Wildlife lovers - this is the walk for you! Learn about the animals that live in the forest and how to know if they’re around. Engaging stories and forest folklore make this guided walk even more awesome! Offered year-round. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
Programs for adults (16+) and seniors (55+) only
Forest Stroll — ‘Easy does it’ is the theme of this stroll. This leisurely walk will take place on the accessible trail and is ideal for people with limited mobility or those who want to walk at a slow pace while taking in the many views offered by the forest. Offered year-round.
Getting Active in the Forest — Fitness buff…or not – this is a fun way to get active outdoors! Breathe in the sights and smells of the forest as you get your heart rate up with this low to medium impact walk. Offered year-round.
Vitamin N — Nature is good for you! Join us to discover more about the benefits of spending time in nature and ways to enjoy this awesome ‘vitamin’. The program includes an indoor presentation followed by a dose of ‘Vitamin N’ by way of an interpretive walk through the forest. Offered year-round.
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, Girl Guides and 4-H
- Persons with disabilities
- Local clubs and community groups
- Faith groups
This program is provided at no cost.
Please be advised that Nature’s Classroom has been put on hold until further notice due to COVID-19. To join the wait list and stay informed about the program, please fill out the online application form.
Teachers and parents of students in Grades 4 to 6 and community groups and libraries who offer programming to youth ages 9 to 12 are invited to participate in the 2023 York Region Tree Bee.
Get kids excited about the environment as they learn how to identify trees and test their tree knowledge against other teams in a weeklong virtual competition. Registrants will have access to Forests Ontario’s webpage, The Hive, which will house a Teacher/Coach guide, lesson plans, activity sheets and practice tests.
The first-place team will win bragging rights, a plaque and some fun prizes!
- There is no cost to participate
- The virtual competition will be held on Monday, November 20 to Sunday, November 26, 2023
- Teams must be made up of a minimum of two participants to a maximum of 28
- Participants must either live in York Region, or belong to a school, community group or club located in York Region
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Tree Bee?
Tree Bee is a free, web friendly tool which introduces users to trees in their backyards and communities. Through online resources, schools, families and budding forest enthusiasts are empowered to head outdoors and become familiar with local trees. In York Region Tree Bee also includes a friendly tree identification and forest awareness competition for students in Grades 4, 5 and 6.
Who is eligible to participate in the York Region Tree Bee?
Students in Grades 4, 5 and 6 (ages 9 to 12) are eligible to participate in the York Region Tree Bee. Participants must either live in York Region, or belong to a school, community group or club located in York Region.
Why should I register my class for Tree Bee?
Tree Bee is a free, interdisciplinary program that can enrich any subject! Whether you are teaching history, math, music, science or even physical education, our Tree Bee resources can help you to engage your students in impactful, place-based learning while meeting Ontario curriculum expectations.
How do I register my class or group for Tree Bee?
Registration for the York Region Tree Bee opens September 15, 2023. Once registered, teams are provided with electronic educational resources to begin preparing.
Is there a registration deadline?
Yes! In order to participate in the testing component of the York Region Tree Bee, groups must register no later than 9 p.m. (EST) on November 15, 2023. If you wish to receive Tree Bee resource materials after this deadline please connect with Forests Ontario.
How many people can participate per class or organization?
Teams must be made up of a minimum of two participants to a maximum of 28. Team breakdown is at the discretion of the Tree Bee Teacher/Coach. In the event of multiple teams per class/group, one test per team will be accepted, up to a maximum of five tests per group. The class/group’s overall score will be determined by test average.
When and where will the York Region Tree Bee be held?
The York Region Tree Bee test will be accessible via Google Forms starting at 9 a.m (EST) on November 20, 2023 and close at 9 p.m. (EST) on November 26. If your group requires a Word version of the test, please connect with Forests Ontario for more details. It is estimated the test will take, on average, between 60 to 90 minutes to complete.
Are participants allowed to use resource materials when completing the Tree Bee test?
Yes, should you wish participants may complete the Tree Bee test with the aid of resource materials.
How can my class or group prepare for the York Region Tree Bee competition?
Your group is encouraged to prepare for the York Region Tree Bee using a provided Tree Bee Resource kit, online tools and practice tests. Resources will be shared following registration and through the Tree Bee home page, The Hive. You are encouraged to share your groups preparation journey on social media using the hashtag #TreeBee2023.
How is the winning team determined?
While Tree Bee is a friendly competition focused on connecting youth with trees and forests, we want to celebrate participants who excel. As such the winning team is determined using testing scores. For groups with multiple teams, the score will be determined by test average.
How and when will the winning team be announced?
The winning team of the 2023 York Region Tree Bee will be announced on York Region and Forests Ontario’s social media channels and on this webpage the week of December 4, 2023. Teams receiving a prize pack will also be contacted via email to confirm shipping details.
What does the winning team receive?
The first-place team will have their school or group name engraved on the Tree Bee plaque alongside past winners and will get to display the plaque at their organization for the remainder of the school year. The winners will also receive an in-person presentation coordinated by York Region and Forests Ontario.
What do the runner-up teams receive?
Second and third-placed teams will receive a digital certificate and fun environmental-themed prizes from York Region.
What happens if there is a tie?
In the event of a tie for first, second or third place, teams will be entered into a draw for one of three prize packs. Prize packs are prepared for a maximum of 28 people per class or group.
Does every team who participates receive something?
Yes, all participants will receive a digital participant certificate to celebrate their participation.
I still have questions, who can I contact for more information?
Please connect with one of Forests Ontario's education staff via email with any additional questions.
- Environment Resources
- ID Your Trees at Treebee.ca
- Focus on Forests Program for Teachers from Forests Ontario
- Trees Are Good Education Resources for Teachers
- Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority - Conservation Education for Teachers
- Tree Canada – Greening Canada’s School Grounds
- Evergreen School Ground Greening Opportunities
- The Canadian Biodiversity Institute – School Grounds Institute
- ACER - Association for Canadian Educational Resources
- TD Friends of the Environment Foundation
- Town of Richmond Hill's Lake Wilcox Park — Self-guided Tree Tour
- Visit your local municipality for parks and recreational programs