By Bryen Dunn
Want to know more about how a tree grows or why salt on our roadways may not be the best way to tackle ice? Do you want to discover the wildlife outside your door?
If the answer is yes, then you should consider checking out The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s (TRCA) At Home With Nature E-Learning programs, which offer videos, activities, and additional resources designed to help individuals and families deepen their knowledge of nature, ecology, the environment, and their place in it.
We’ve compiled a list of these interesting and informative programs, so you can review, then sign yourself up and start learning, all from the comfort of home. Scroll to the bottom for two special Zoom events taking place this month to discover more on the life cycle of trees, and how road salts maybe causing more harm than good.
Meadoway Colours: Ages 4 to 8
Explore The Meadoway and help find all kinds of colours. Also learn about how insects, like bees, see flowers differently than how we see them.
Animal Detective: Ages 6+
Learn how wildlife survive chilly weather and how to recognize their tracks and signs.
Bird Sounds at Home: Ages 6+
Learn and discover the bird sounds around your neighbourhood with these fun activities.
Earth Hour at Home: Ages 6+
Find out what Earth Hour is and how it got started, and discover fun Earth Hour activities you can do as a family.
Frog Watch: Ages 6+
Learn about Ontario’s frogs and toads and how to identify them by their unique calls. Afterwards, try creating the calls at home and building a toad shelter for the garden.
Germination: Ages 6+
Learn how to germinate seeds, in a fun and visual way, and find out how students have been helping to green up.
Pollinators at Home: Ages 6+
Learn all about butterflies, bees, and other pollinators, and find out how to attract and support these species at home with pollinator-friendly gardening tips.
Signs of Spring: Ages 6+
Check out the video, then fill out the worksheet to explore signs of spring and the changing seasons. Activities include: Word Scramble, Nature BINGO, ‘Signs of Spring’ Challenge, and more.
The Wonders of Water: Ages 7+
Did you know more then 70 percent of the earth is covered by water? Discover where we find water,
and explore our planet’s water cycle.
Getting to Know Your Buds: Ages 8+
Learn how to identify different trees by looking at their buds, and find out what makes these often overlooked parts of a plant different from each other.
Leafy Lessons: Ages 8+
Did you know trees are the world’s largest plants, covering approximately one-third of the Earth’s land surface? Identify the parts of a plant, discover the keys to photosynthesis, and more.
Learn About Lichens: Ages 8+
Lichens are living creatures all around us, but where do we find them? This package will teach you about what a lichen is, the story they can tell us about the environment, and how to identify some of the most common types.
Rain to Runoff: A Stormwater Story: Ages 8+
When rain falls, roughly half of the water soaks into absorbent soil — except in urban areas, where there are more hard, paved surfaces. Join us as we explore stormwater’s story in the city using the Enviroscape model.
Rain to Runoff: Road Salt in Our City: Ages 8+
Canadians use more than five million tonnes of road salt every winter. Find out how road salt makes its way into our rivers, wetlands, and lakes, and how it can affect the wildlife and plants that live there.
Unbelievable Beavers: Ages 8+
Beavers are unique creatures with a very special role in our ecosystems. “Busy as a beaver,” they say — but busy doing what? Let’s find out.
Microplastics: Ages 10+
Fill out this worksheet to learn more about what microplastics are, and how they enter our environment.
All About Asian Carps: Ages 10+
Have you heard of the Asian carp species, which are considered a major threat to the Great Lakes? What threat do they pose to our environment, and what can we do?
Monitoring Asian Carp: Ages 12+
Learn why we need to stop the spread of invasive species in our waterways, and how you can play a part.
Indoor Nature Walk: For all ages
Participate in a short nature walk and explore the outdoors right in your living room — using your imagination.
All About Bats: For all ages
Did you know that one little brown bat can eat more than 1,000 insects in a single hour? Learn more about bat species in the Toronto area and how to identify them. Bust common myths about these incredible creatures and reveal how to support their declining populations.
Owls and Coyotes: For all ages
Learn about owls and coyotes in the Greater Toronto area. Discover their unique calls and amazing nighttime adaptations.
Meadoway Ecology: For all ages
Learn how planting native plants in The Meadoway is restoring an ancient food web and ecosystem. Topics include: How native and non-native plants differ from each other, and why native plants are so important to the meadow ecosystem.
Meadoway Magic: For all ages
Learn how to create a welcoming environment for birds and pollinators in your own backyard. Topics include: replacing turf grass with native plants, and the benefits of leaf piles and leftover winter scrub.
Nocturnal Senses: For all ages
Learn how night vision, echolocation, and their senses of smell and touch help different animals to go about their business when the sun goes down.
Rainwater Harvesting: For all ages
Learn to harvest rainwater with a rain barrel. You can save money on your water bill and divert stormwater runoff by using rain water in your garden. Learn how to choose, install, and maintain a rain barrel in your yard.
Ready, Set, Bioblitz: For all ages
A Bioblitz is a fun way to get a sense of the amazing diversity of living creatures in your yard, on your street, or anywhere. The idea: Look for as many living things as you can! Consider sending the information on what you find to a project like iNaturalist or eBird where scientists can use it for their research!
Life of a Tree – Feb 9. 1 pm
Trees are all around us, but we can overlook the amazing things they do for us every day. Learn about the life cycle of trees and what features can help decipher a tree’s identity. This event is taking place via Zoom. After registration you will be emailed a link to join the webinar.
Winter Road Salt – Feb 23, 6:30 pm
Road salts are heavily used to manage snow and ice in our urban areas. They have traditionally been a primary tool to keep our roads, sidewalks, and other paved surfaces safe for winter travel, but there is growing concern about the rising chloride levels in watersheds across the Toronto Region. Learn about chloride levels in waterways across the Toronto Region, and their impacts on the natural environment. Learn what is being done to reduce road salt applications and get tips to help on your own property. This event is taking place via Zoom. After registration you will be emailed a link to join the webinar.
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on adventure, ecotourism, lifestyle, entertainment, and hospitality. He contributes to several industry and consumer publications, and also has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews.