Thursday 17 June 2021

Community Highlights: Boreal Rangers Outdoor Adventures 4-H Club

1. How and when did you form your group? 
Amy McInnes is the general leader of the Boreal Rangers Outdoor Adventures 4-H Club in Prince Albert. She and her husband Aron grew up on farms and met when they were in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves. They believe their “Adapt and Overcome” philosophy blends nicely with the 4-H motto, “Learn to Do by Doing”. 

There are 11 members in the club this year, ranging in age from 8 to 18 (younger children were not invited due to the focus on online activities this year). Amy and Aron try to make links to what the members are learning in school, the kids’ interests, and the club’s learning goals. The club is constantly linking to other programs and groups, such as SaskOutdoors and Water Rangers. 

Amy says a lot of knowledge passes back and forth between the leaders and the kids based on what the kids ask about and the information the leaders obtain so they can teach the kids. 

2. What are your principal activities and why do you believe they’re important? 
At the beginning of each year, 4-H clubs choose a number of different projects to work on during the year. The Boreal Rangers' focus is very hands-on and outdoor adventures and sustainability are a staple. This includes camping, hiking, and learning about falcons, wolves, and owls. Aron works with the older kids on sustainability. Discussions often centre around features of the McInnes home, including solar panels, a forest garden in the front yard, an aquaponics set-up in the dining room, and vermicomposting. In addition, the 4-H club donates time and plants to two community gardens that are designed to help families that are struggling. 

3. What were your successes (big or small) in 2020? 
How the club functions was definitely affected by Covid, but the club has used the time to adapt and find new ways to connect and experience things they might not have taken the time to do otherwise. Most of the programming over the past 12-14 months has been online as a group with members sending in photos to show how they followed through with what they learned. Zoom meetings are offered but for shorter time periods as attention span is less on a computer. 

The times the group did gather were very different, but they are looking every day for ways to build a positive outlook into what they are learning from this experience. The group couldn’t go snowshoeing together so everyone received a voucher for equipment rental and went out in family bubbles (thanks to a grant from SaskOutdoors). Drama activities took place on Zoom. The volunteer running the sessions had a theme and would suggest activities such as emotional responses to music clips, ad lib, and coming up with and sharing a character. 

4. What would you like to achieve in 2021? 
The club has been planning an Indigenous culture project that will get underway this summer. They hope to return to their family-inclusive outdoor adventures as well. 

5. If you could have 3 wishes for improving your community, what would they be? 
  1. Increased connection within Prince Albert city and area, through programming or volunteering. We’d like to learn the local history and respect its place in how the community was formed. 
  2. Community members consider sustainability in their daily lives. 
  3. Listen to youth! They have ideas that can and will shape the future. 

6. Are there volunteer opportunities with your organization? 
Amy says she and Aron involve other leaders for activities that aren’t within their areas of expertise, such as this year’s drama and canine projects. They are working with Cree and Métis Elders and Knowledge-Keepers on an Indigenous culture project. They also take advantage of local expertise, learning about owls with Harold Fisher, falcons with Lynn Oliphant, and honey with Hannigan Honey.

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