Young Naturalists Club Mentorship Program at U-Hill Elementary Fosters Students Success in the Sciences

In Spring of 2012, University Hill Elementary welcomed the Young Naturalists Club (YNC) to the school. YNC is a nature discovery and environmental action program that invites young U-Hill students ages 5 to 14 years old to discover nature with older students, parents and local experts. The YNC is a BC-based charity that can be found all across BC. 

Thanks to U-Hill Elementary, YNC was able to become one of the most popular clubs at school. Principal Kathy Pickford helped YNC school parents, Nancy Brown and Connie Chen navigate the process to create a school club and has provided the space where YNC participants meet. The school staff have assisted with the club's organization, registrations, accounting and communications.

"YNC is sponsored by U-Hill teachers and complements the partnerships our school has with UBC Gardens and the Biodiversity Museum," says Pickford.  "We feel that students should receive as much education as possible about their environment and sustainability."

One of the great opportunities YNC offers is mentoring by young secondary student scientists to primary and intermediate students.

YNC in action! (standing up) Anson Chen and YNC Founder watch young U-Hill students as they paint their favourite YNC Spring theme on canvas "Secondary students have remarked that they are more aware of their potential impact on children through the mentoring process," says Brown, one of YNC's program coordinators.

Young adults who are in the process of launching into post-secondary education and ultimately careers in the field of science have been able to have a direct and significant impact on young children who in turn gain an appreciation for the natural world around them and hands-on experience with the process of scientific observation.

Former U-Hill Secondary student, Anson Chen, used to be one of the science mentors at YNC. She says that U-Hill's vigorous support of science education helped her achieve a cultivated understanding of science and the natural habitat. Today, she is studying Geological Engineering at the University of Waterloo.

Chen got involved with YNC when Brown came to visit U-Hill Secondary looking for volunteers to help her start this club. 

"Mentoring them allowed me to get in touch with that "inner kid" that loves exploring the forest and getting my hands dirty!" Says Chen.

For Chen, the most memorable experience at YNC was the week she and the kids learned about bats and night creatures.

"We built bat houses with the kids which was fantastic," Chen says. "Metro Vancouver parks provided guest speaker Vanessa Lee to come in to teach everyone about bats. They brought in interesting articles for the kids to feel such as feather and a dead stuffed owl!"

YNC at U-Hill is currently recruiting secondary student volunteers and guest sciences with an interest in natural science for their Spring 2013 program. Find out more here!


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