VICTORIA – Inspired by her holistic ranching background, Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon has launched a province-wide environmental education program for high school teachers and youth leaders.
Stewards of the Future offers grants of up to $800 per group to cover field trips, fees for programs and guess speakers, equipment and teacher release time for projects. It is offered for students from grades 9-12, First Nations educators, 4-H, Guide and Scout groups and environment clubs, with an application deadline of Jan. 23 for the spring program.
"Through Stewards of the Future, students will have the opportunity to explore issues that affect the land, water and other natural resources in British Columbia," Guichon said. "The goal of this program is not to solve the challenges we face, but rather to encourage open discussion and gain a better understanding of the issues that affect our natural surroundings."
Program partners, including the education ministry and B.C. Parks, offer support for projects such as research on invasive species leading to mapping and removal.
The Stewards of the Future toolkit emphasizes hands-on "place-based" experience to appreciate and enhance biodiversity.
Guichon and her late husband Lawrence Guichon are credited with pioneering holistic management in the B.C. cattle industry, emphasizing preservation of natural grassland on their historic Merritt-area ranch.
Holistic management, developed by African biologist and game ranger Allan Savory, overturned the long-held belief that overgrazing is the result of too many animals. Savory proved that reducing the number of animals doesn't restore grasslands, which developed in the presence of large herds that were kept closely bunched and moving to avoid predators. Planned grazing mimics that pattern and gives grasslands time to recover.
Details and application forms for the Stewards of the Future program are available at the Lieutenant Governor's website, www.ltgov.bc.ca
Guichon intends to visit programs in the province and incorporate an awards program for participants.