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TRACKS Youth Program Carving Path for Innovative Environmental Education

TRACKS receives NSERC and United Way funding to deliver hands-on investigative science programming on campus, in communities and beyond

TRACKS Youth Program Carving Path for Innovative Environmental Education
TRACKS Youth Program Carving Path for Innovative Environmental Education

Throughout the past four years, TRACKS Youth Program has grown from an inspired idea to a well-established and much-appreciated youth initiative within Trent University, Peterborough, and surrounding Indigenous communities.

Conceived by First Nations community members and Trent faculty, staff and students in the Indigenous Environmental Studies/Science (IES) program, TRACKS operates under the umbrella of the Kawartha World Issues Centre as a distinct program guided and led by Indigenous community partners and University representatives.

Initially funded by three-year Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, TRACKS is pleased to announce its recent acceptance of two new grants. Competitive funding through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada’s PromoScience program will provide $23,000 to assist with staffing the program, recognizing TRACKS’ innovative approach and unique contribution to the ongoing promotion of science among youth.

“We are so pleased to be receiving this funding and for having the importance of TRACKS acknowledged this way,” said Dr. Chris Furgal, IES faculty member and program advisor to TRACKS. “In the granting acceptances, TRACKS was acknowledged not only for its dedication to inspiring Indigenous youth to explore math and science fields, but also for its role in furthering the conversation about Indigenous knowledge as a science, and culturally responsive education as a strategy to engaging young people.”

Along with NSERC funding awarded this month, TRACKS will also be granted $47,000 in Innovation Funding through United Way Peterborough.

“TRACKS is grateful to have been chosen as one of three new programs added to United Way’s funded agencies and as part of their Poverty to Possibilities and Strong Community mandate,” added Professor Furgal. “Through this grant, TRACKS will strive to increase community partnerships and offer more accessible and free programming to local Indigenous youth.”

Working largely with youth ages 8-13, TRACKS runs school workshops, outreach events, an after-school club and summer camp programming with the mandate of weaving together different perspectives around science and the environment. As an outreach arm of the IES program, TRACKS also hopes to help youth understand environmental issues from multiple perspectives by delivering hands-on activities based in traditional and contemporary Indigenous knowledge systems, Western science disciplines, and environmental education. TRACKS hosts free programming for its partner communities (Alderville, Hiawatha, Scugog and Curve Lake First Nations and Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre) and also runs fee-for-service programming at Trent University and within local school boards.

At Trent University, TRACKS hosts placement and research students within the School of Education, Indigenous Studies, and Indigenous Environmental Studies/Science. TRACKS is also a partner of the TEACH Outside the Box program, an alternative practicum option for teacher candidates hosted by Trent University’s School of Education and Professional Learning, the Office of Human Rights, Accessibility and Equity, Jamaican Self Help and the Kawartha World Issues Centre. 

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Posted on Wednesday, March 11, 2015.

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