Expanding Our Roots
Provider Pals Program Arrives in the Lower Mainland
Sandy McKellar, Truck Loggers Association (TLA)
Director of Communications & Membership
Introduced into Canada by the Truck Loggers' Association in the 2005/2006 school year, the Provider Pals Program is a unique approach to natural resource education in our schools, providing the answer to the question “where does our stuff come from?” This new and exciting educational program is based on a unique, yet practical approach to natural resource education, combined with a series of student exchanges with the mission being to build a common ground of understanding and respect between urban youth, rural youth, and their natural resource providers.
The program has three components; adoption of a ‘resource provider’ by elementary school classes in rural and urban communities, rural-urban student cultural exchange events, and a ‘virtual village’ web site that supports all those participating in the program.
The first classes to adopt providers were Southgate Middle School in Campbell River, and Walter Moberly Elementary School in Vancouver. At the end of the inaugural run last June, Provider Days was held, with students from both schools meeting face-to-face with their provider ‘pen-pal’ with whom they had exchanged emails throughout the year. The program was a resounding success, and both schools are looking forward to participating again next year.
Response to the program has been positively enthusiastic on all fronts. One teacher summed up her experience: “You can imagine that, as a teacher, making our studies relevant to our students can be a challenge, but our interactions with Providers created a wonderful opportunity to link what kids have studied with what happens out in the real world … The cultural exchange that brought our rural students to Vancouver was an experience the kids will never forget”.
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