The Regional Municipality Of York


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

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.

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 programs

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
  • Seniors
  • Naturalists
  • Persons with disabilities
  • Local clubs and community groups
  • Faith groups


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 Program

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.

Activities include:

  • 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.

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
  • 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.

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Envirothon students

What is Envirothon?

York Region Envirothon is an interactive, hands-on, outdoor environmental education program for youth in grades 9 to 12.

  • A province-wide network of educators and resource professionals deliver this program through field trips, workshops, competitions and resource materials
  • All material is tailored to fit Ontario curriculum and Ontario specific activities and scientific information
  • Envirothon promotes teamwork, leadership, communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Over 15 regional competitions take place across the province every year, with winning teams from each regional competition competing at the Ontario Envirothon Championship   Champions compete at the North American Envirothon Competition

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

To learn more about this exciting Ontario Envirothon program, please watch this video.

This program is offered in partnership with Forests OntarioLake Simcoe Region Conservation AuthorityToronto and Region Conservation Authority , Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust, York Environmental Stewardship, the York Region District School Board, the York Catholic District School Board and Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests.

Who Can Participate?

Students in Grades 9 to 12 can participate. Teachers or leaders can register teams of five students. Additional team requests will be place on a waiting list. Teams can include private schools, eco-teams, homeschool groups and other community organizations such as Pathfinders or 4-H clubs.

Download the teacher flyer to hand out at your school.

For schools and/or community organizations unable to participate in the York Region Envirothon, the Online Presentation Challenge is a great way to engage with the Ontario Envirothon program.

How Envirothon Works

Event days provide students with opportunities to learn and interact with the outdoors.

Students will rotate through eco-stations, learning practical, hands-on, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills on topics including soils, aquatics, wildlife, forestry and this year’s special topic   waste management. Each station is run by natural resource professionals.

A friendly competition is held on the second day to allow students to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills.  Competitions generally follow the format laid out below:

  • Teams rotate through various stations to answer questions and complete hands-on activities (e.g. forest surveying, etc.)
  • Five stations focus on the Envirothon core topics (forestry, soils, aquatics, wildlife and waste management)
  • Each team will prepare a presentation which they will present to a panel of judges that work in the field
  • Teams are given time to prepare at the event
  • Students must evaluate and analyze the presented problem 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 in May, and will also receive a $200 gift certificate from Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (LEAF) to be used for purchasing a tree, shrubs or garden kits for their school.

How to Register

Please be advised the York Region Envirothon – Biodiversity Challenge event scheduled to take place this April 21 at Lake St. George in the City of Richmond Hill and April 28 in the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville has been cancelled.

York Region teams can still particpate in the Ontario Envirothon Presentation Challenge. Video submission deadline is April 30, 2020. 

Free Study Guides And Webinars – great for any classroom

Study Guides and webinars are available to help prepare students for their local competition 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.  

2019 York Region Champions

The 2019 York Region Envirothon - Growing Tomorrow’s Green Leaders Challenge saw nine schools compete for the Regional title. Congratulations to all participating schools:
  • St. Elizabeth Catholic High School – First Place
  • Markville Secondary School – Second Place
  • Stouffville District Secondary School – Third Place
  • Alexander Mackenzie High School
  • Bur Oak Secondary School
  • Huron Heights Secondary School
  • Our Lady of the Lake Catholic College School
  • Richmond Green Secondary School
  • St. Augustine Catholic Secondary School
Envirothon 2019 Winning team photo

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 the buzz about trees? Tree bee.

Teachers, parents and leaders of students in Grades 4 to 6 are invited to register students to participate in Tree Bee - the tree identification competition.

Get students excited about forests as they learn to identify trees and test their tree knowledge against other teams in the Tree Bee Championship. The championship team will win bragging right plus some fun prizes!

  • There is no cost to participate
  • Minimum of two students per team to a maximum of a whole classroom  there can only be one submission/score per classroom on the competition date
  • Students must live in York Region

For more information, visit the Tree Bee website or email

Stay tuned for 2021 registration.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to participate in the Tree Bee?

Students in Grades 4 to 6 can participate in the York Region Tree Bee.

When/where is the York Region Tree Bee?

The York Region Tree Bee will occur on Wednesday November 25 virtually on Google Classroom during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  The test will be accessible/go live at 8:00 a.m. and close at 4:00 p.m.

When will the winner be announced?

The winner of the York Region Tree Bee will be announced the week of November 30, 2020.

 How will the winner be announced?

The winner of the 2020 York Region Tree Bee will be announced on York Region and Forests Ontario social media channels.

What does the winning team receive?

The first-place team will have their school name/team engraved on the Tree Bee plaque alongside past winners and will get to display the plaque at their school for the remainder of the school year. They will also receive a digital certificate and some fun York Region environmental themed prizes.

What do the runner-up teams receive?

Second and third placed teams will receive a digital certificate and some fun York Regional environmental themed prizes.

Does every team who participates receive something?

Yes, all participants who participate in the York Region Tree Bee will receive a digital participant certificate.

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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.

Contact Us

  • Environmental Services

  • 1-877-464-9675

  • Administrative Centre

  • Accessibility

    Accessible formats or communication supports are available upon request

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