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Sustainable Environment and Urban Agriculture 

Position Title: Assistant Outdoor Educator

Reports to: Program Coordinator

Location: Dallington Park (Don Mills & Sheppard - with an option for remote work days)

Employment Type: Part-time, hourly

Hours: 20 hours per week, June-September (with a possibility of extension until December)

Work Days: Monday-Thursday

Salary: $18-22 per hour

Position Summary:

We are seeking an enthusiastic Assistant Outdoor Educator to support our outdoor educational programs for children at the Dallington Pollinators Community Garden. In this role, you will play a crucial part in ensuring a successful and professional experience for all participants. The majority of your work will take place outdoors during the summer months, involving the design and facilitation of engaging outdoor education sessions. The age range of children will be:

  1. 6-12 years for the summer program

  2. Kindergarten to grades 7/8 for the after school program

Hour Requirements:

This part-time position requires a commitment of up to 20 hours per week, Monday through Thursday, with the following schedule*:

  • School Days (June & September): 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm

  • Summer Holidays (July & August): 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm

*Note that the hours are somewhat flexible.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Collaborate with the Program Coordinator to design and create a weekly program schedule and engaging lessons for children in both in-school and after-school programs.

  • Successfully manage and supervise large groups of children, implementing effective discipline and reward systems.

  • Familiarize yourself with the pilot project and diligently follow the Program Coordinator's guidelines.

  • Demonstrate a solid understanding of food security, urban agriculture, and environmental stewardship, incorporating these concepts into the educational sessions.

  • Contribute to garden upkeep and maintenance.

  • Lead and assist in summer day camps, providing a safe and enjoyable experience for all participants.

  • Assist with the intake and registration of summer program participants, including completion of all necessary paperwork and risk waivers.

  • Prioritize the safety and well-being of the children by maintaining a secure working environment.

  • Practice and promote low-impact and Leave No Trace environmental practices in all instances.

Qualifications and Requirements:

  • Previous experience in leading and managing groups of young children in outdoor activities.

  • Demonstrated ability to assist in office administration tasks such as filing and reporting.

  • Willingness to be flexible and work effectively with young children, fostering a positive and inclusive learning environment.

  • Comfortable with public speaking and effectively communicating in front of a group.

  • Ability to maintain a professional and courteous demeanor at all times.

Additional Requirements:

  • Be able to participate in nature walks and physical activities.

  • Availability to attend a weekly meeting, either virtually or in-person.

  • Must undergo a police clearance and vulnerability clearance check.

  • Must attend a one-day training session before commencing work.

How to Apply:

To apply for the position of Assistant Outdoor Educator, please send your resume and a detailed cover letter to Mahnaz via email to

Applications will be reviewed as they are received and the posting will remain open till a candidate is hired. Interviews will take place on an ongoing basis. We are looking to fill this role as soon as possible.

We are committed to being an equal opportunity employer and welcome applications from all qualified individuals.

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As we enter the exciting growing season of 2023, many of us may be tempted to head to the nearest garden store or nursery to purchase seedlings for our vegetable gardens. However, if time and interest allow, it's worth considering the art of growing from seed. While it may not be as easy as it sounds, there are tips and tricks that can make the process more manageable.

One of the main reasons to grow from seed is the greater choice available. Passionate gardeners often share their favorite seeds at seed exchanges, allowing you to grow unique varieties like purple tomatillos or patty pan squash. Additionally, heirloom seeds are often preferred for their better flavor, taste, and ability to withstand weather fluctuations, as compared to hybrid varieties which can be susceptible to disease and pests.

Without further advocating for heirloom varieties, let's focus on the best ways to plan for a successful summer garden:

1. Start seeds indoors to give summer-loving varieties a head start, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and brassicas, as April weather is unpredictable and may not be ideal for planting. Follow your regional chart for last frost dates and time your seed starting 4-6 weeks before the last frost date.

2. Grow enough vegetables for your family's needs, keeping in mind that generally, you should multiply a vegetable 3 to 4 times per person, except for high-yield varieties like cherry tomatoes, where one plant per person is sufficient. Only grow vegetables that you and your family will enjoy over the season, but also consider experimenting with new, exciting varieties.

3. Begin seeds in peat pellets, paper containers or toilet paper roll seed starters, and transfer them to larger containers once they germinate. Plant extra seedlings (at least 3 per starter container) to ensure the most robust ones can be selected and to avoid disturbing the ones you wish to keep.

4. Gradually introduce seedlings to the outdoors through hardening off, starting with a couple of hours per day and leaving them outside overnight close to transplant time. For direct sowing, plant cold weather crops like radish and peas in April if the soil is workable and doesn't need further amendments. For summer-loving crops, wait until after the last frost date.

5. Choose the right location: Select a location with good sunlight, water drainage, and soil quality. Vegetables need at least six hours of sunlight a day, so choose a spot that gets plenty of direct sunlight. Make sure the soil is well-drained to prevent waterlogged roots, and if necessary, amend the soil with organic matter like compost or aged manure.

6. Use companion planting: Planting certain vegetables together can help to improve their growth, health, and productivity. For example, planting marigolds next to your tomato plants can help to repel harmful insects and improve their flavor, while planting beans next to corn can help to fix nitrogen in the soil and improve soil fertility.

7. Water regularly: Vegetables need consistent moisture to thrive, so make sure to water them regularly. Water deeply and thoroughly, and try to avoid getting water on the leaves as this can encourage fungal diseases. Consider using a drip irrigation system or soaker hose to deliver water directly to the roots.

8. Mulch your garden: Mulching your garden with organic matter like straw, leaves, or grass clippings can help to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and improve soil health. Apply a layer of mulch around your plants, making sure to keep it away from the stems to prevent rot.

9. Monitor for pests and diseases: Keep an eye out for pests and diseases that can damage your vegetables, and take action as soon as you notice a problem. Consider using natural pest control methods like neem oil, diatomaceous earth, or companion planting to repel pests and prevent damage.

10. Harvest regularly: Harvest your vegetables regularly to encourage continued growth and productivity. Check your garden daily for ripe produce, and pick them as soon as they are ready to prevent over-ripening or spoilage.

11. Rotate crops: Rotating your crops each year can help to prevent soil-borne diseases and improve soil fertility. Plan your garden layout in advance, and avoid planting the same crop in the same spot for at least two years in a row.

By following these tips, you can create a successful vegetable garden that provides fresh, healthy produce for you and your family to enjoy. Happy gardening!

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What is the significance of outdoor learning on early childhood education. Does it make an impact on inquiry, understanding, learning, creativity, curiosity and knowledge building. Are current models of education giving children the skills to become caring and responsible citizens and is it relevant to today’s world and challenges. Are we set on a path to sustainable education?

David Orr, ecologist and scholar, suggests a fundamental shift and approach in teaching and learning as changes affected by the Anthropocene kick into action. Paulo Freire, educator and philosopher, worked with impoverished youth and became convinced that “traditional pedagogy was oppressive and dehumanizing” and advocated different educational models. In other words, traditional models of standardized education seemed to be failing on all counts of social, economic and environmental justice and in providing sustainable solutions for the future. The model of memorizing and regurgitating facts, the ‘banking’ style was just not enough for the solutions that were needed to build a resilient and self-sufficient society.

Tapping into the natural curiosity of children, leading them towards inquiry-based learning and the understanding of the interconnectedness of all living systems on earth, is the kind of fundamental shift that Orr suggested. Incorporating outdoor education as a way of enriched learning, complementing traditional classroom learning, introduces children to the wonder and awe that nature presents in its dynamic systems. By observation, through inquiry and integrated approaches of learning and environmental stewardship, children gain a better understanding of the natural world and they develop deep knowledge and skills that connects their curriculum and classroom learning, preparing them for current and future challenges.

The key benefits of outdoor learning are:

  • Naturalized spaces like parks, ravines and river systems provide a perfect setting for hands-on experience, participatory engagement, cultural expression and ‘instill in children an abiding sense of care and responsibility for the well-being of their communities and planet Earth’.

  • Working in outdoor spaces, on projects like nurturing a community garden, children will become more aware about current issues facing their community whether it's food-related or an environmental sustainability issue.

  • They will develop a keen sense of space and will be able to see the magnitude of their impact within a span of one growing season.

  • By growing organic fruits and vegetables, nature’s lab will teach children how to take constructive and collective action and transformation through individual empowerment

  • The children will further be able to expand on their curriculum learning by engaging in hands-on activities and nature-based, outdoor games covering a wide range of topics particularly science and environmental stewardship.

  • Using the Heads, Hands and Heart approach will enable children from being knowledge seekers to transformative leaders of tomorrow.

The current environmental and climate crises make it imperative for educators to make children enablers of change at their level, informed by their interest, values and knowledge they bring from home and environment around them. By becoming stewards of the land, the children will have a shared responsibility to take care of the earth, to do their part in keeping the planet healthy. They will not view nature merely as a resource to be extracted and used for their consumption but will learn about the intricate and delicate balance that links the world’s social, economic and natural systems together. According to Dr. Joseph Stiglitz, an economist and public policy analyst, we affect what we do today, our economy, our society and our future. The experiences that children gain at an early stage may influence their behavior in later life, paving the way for them to becoming environmentally conscious citizens.

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