Education Program 

Outreach & Education

Education is key to conservation.”In the end, we will conserve only what we love.  We will love only what we understand”. People need to be informed about the issues before they can be motivated to take action, whether it be within their own abilities or lobbying others for a change. One person CAN make a difference, whatever their age. After all, OTCC started due to the efforts of a few children. If we all do our part to spread the word and to do what we can ourselves, we can turn the tide for turtles.

We address many avenues of education; we target all audiences and have specific presentations for each different group, whether they be kindergarten children, or University biology students, veterinary students or a cottagers group.

Our education program continues to grow, fostering awareness and direct conservation action to protect our at-risk turtle populations and their wetland habitats.   In 2017, workshops and presentations were held at the OTCC education centre, at outreach locations, and via Skype, to groups and communities across the province. 120 in-depth, hands-on workshops and presentations were provided to 7650 people, involving over 50 schools and 10 partner organizations.

To date, 100% of participants in our programs have indicated that they were inspired to take conservation action, including helping to move turtles from danger so they aren’t injured in the first place. Many special events were held, including the planting of a pollinator garden at OTCC’s outdoor education centre, as well as workshops at forest and water festivals, Earth Day events, community group events, and our annual open house in September.

In addition to the general public, we also conduct very specialized workshops for veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and wildlife rehabilitators, covering all aspects of turtle trauma. These have taken place in our centre and across the province. We have helped many rehabilitation centres, private veterinary clinics, shelters and veterinary emergency clinics to start treating turtles or advance their skills. The more facilities willing to see and treat turtles, the more will be saved! We currently have over 25 centres across the province that will see turtles on an emergency basis, to start their treatment.  This makes sure they get timely care until they can be transferred to us for further surgery or treatment.

We also skillfully introduce many elements of our education program into our new, Birthday Party program.  We would love to host your child’s birthday party here at the OTCC – to find out more, click here:  Birthday Parties

Education programs have gone virtual!

It’s not safe for our Education team to travel around during the Covid-19 pandemic, but we can still bring our engaging educational programming right to you. We are offering Virtual Field Trips, Virtual Tours, and Virtual Birthday Parties! Contact our Education Coordinator, Wendy, using the form below and she can set up a virtual experience that is right for your group. We hope to connect with you virtually soon!

Interested in booking an event, or just want more information on our education programs?  Fill in the form below and Wendy Baggs, our Education Coordinator, will be in contact as soon as possible!

    Our Education Turtle Team 

    The goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to help injured animals recover so they can be returned to the wild, but sometimes an animal’s injuries are too severe. The OTCC houses a handful of resident “non-releasable” turtles. These animals help us teach people about turtles and inspire them to take action to lend a hand to these animals in need.

    Paddy

    Paddy is a handsome 35-year-old male snapping turtle that was admitted to OTCC on May 27, 2012. He was purchased at a pet store as a hatchling 29 years ago! His adopted family was unaware that it is illegal to keep a native Ontario turtle as a pet. It was by chance that the family was at an OTCC outreach event in Ottawa. Following the presentation, they approached the staff member to explain his situation. It was a heartbreaking decision to make, but they decided it would be in Paddy’s best interest to surrender him. Paddy now accompanies us to all outreach events where he acts as an ambassador for his species to help dispel the many myths associated with snapping turtles! We could not have picked a better representative for this misunderstood species.

    Blandella

    Blandella was gravid (carrying eggs) when she was hit by a car. She suffered severe injuries to her hind end and has never laid her eggs. These injuries have affected her ability to swim. She would have difficulty with normal behaviours – such as finding food, mating, and escaping predators – in the wild.

    Andrea 

    Andrea, another Blanding’s Turtle, was also hit by a car. She lost one eye and is almost blind in the other. She would not be able to survive in the wild with this much vision loss.

    Testimonials

    What teachers have expressed about our program:

    Question asked:
    Your opinion is very important to the OTCC.
    Has our education presentation increased your sense of connectedness with the natural
    world, interest in wetlands, and concern for Ontario’s native turtle species?

    Teacher:  Shauna Moodie                                                                 School:  Monsignor O’Donoghue E.S.,  Grades 1-8

    The OTCC presentation at our school really helped to raise the awareness of the students about the different species of turtles in Ontario, their habitats and their habits. With this increased awareness and knowledge; the students will undoubtedly be more inclined to protect their wetland habitats and to mitigate the threats to their existence in future.  Thanks for a great presentation! The kids were very engaged. It’s not easy to keep a group of kids interested in something for 90 minutes! Well done! There were four classes in each presentation, which is approximately 100 students in two groups, so 200 in totals.

    Thanks again,
    Shauna

    Teacher:  Angela Cranny                                                                   School:  St. Anne, Grades 1-8

    What an awesome presentation! Our students learned so much about the importance of wetlands and the need to learn about and protect our native turtles. Thanks for including live turtles during your presentation. They were a big hit!

    Teacher:  Kristy Hill                                                                            School:  Buckhorn P.S., Grades 1-8

    The presentation was filled with important turtle conservation information (that children learn and understand) that connected to the curriculum, and seeing the live turtles, and comparing them to each other was fascinating for both students and adults. Thank you.

    Teacher:  Jenn Hambleton                                                                School:  Compass Early Learning Grades Kindergarten-6

    Great program! Information age appropriate but also info for the caregivers. Very clear when speaking and used lots of “props” to keep the young children interested. Patient and engaging – great job!  *lots of visuals to look at!

    Teacher:  Patrick Muldoon                                                               School: Hillcrest P.S., Grades 2 – 6-7

    As a teacher, it is very important to inspire kids to be connected to our natural world. This presentation certainly did this today! Thanks!

    Teacher:  Tara Menzies                                                                      School: Prince of Wales P.S. at OTCC, Grades 4-6

    Absolutely, our group was fascinated to see & learn about different turtle’s and how we can help. We will be recommending you to other groups. Thank you

    Teacher:  Stacy Higgins                                                                      School:  St.John Elementary S. , Grades 1-8

    Educating the students about habitat loss and how this has impacted ecosystems and the species that live in them! Information about reproduction time is vital. Great job!!

    Teacher:  Andrea Hill                                                                          Via Skype:  Belleville

    We loved the Skype session!!!  it was such a fantastic experience and I feel as though we’ve sparked a love of turtles in some of these kiddos.  One already told me she wants to save injured turtles when she gets older!

    What organizers are saying about our education program:

    Contact:  Alexis Cooke                     Event description:  UOIT Summer Education Camps           Participants:  Turtle Island

    Your presentation brought-to-life all the concerns of turtles and their environment.. The campers were very engaged and it inspired a new generation to be stewards of ourenvironment! Amazing!!

    Contact:  Shawna Telford               Event description:  1st Bridgenorth Beavers/Scouts             Participants:  aged 5-7 years

    Yes it is! It is a great eye opener to let people know about the details it takes to save the  population of our turtles. I believe the children will have a lot more knowledge and respect for our turtles and where to go to save a injured turtle.

    Contact:  Susan Monteith               Event description:  Biodiversity Day at OTCC                         Participants:  Ennismore Sparks/Guides

    We found your program very informative and hands on. The girls/parents/leaders gained a great insight and will spread the word and importance of spread the word of “turtle safety” and how important it is to help the injured.

    Contact:  Julia Garro                        Event description:  Friends of Bon Echo                                   Participants:  Campers

    OTCC’s presentation was inspiring! It was great to learn more about what the average person can do to help our wild turtle population!

    Contact:  Camp Counsellor            Event description:  Camp Kawartha Ed Centre                      Participants:  Youth Campers

    I have been to the centre and seen the presentation many times but I always learn more. Speaking for the kids I can honestly say absolutely! Inspiring and engaging!

    Contact:  Craig Brant                       Event description:  Camp Kawartha Env. Centre                   Participants:  Youth Campers

    We run a very nature based program during our camps that you visited. This presentation gives the kids and staff a great deal of knowledge about turtles, wetlands and a conservation ethic in general. In addition, it inspires them with very practical steps they can use to help a turtle eg.  When crossing a road and in a broader sense it inspires them and deepens their wish to make a difference for wildlife and nature. Our staff team always love the presentations and we always
    learn something new every time! Thanks so much for your wonderful visits this summer!

    Contact:  Kelly King                         Event description:  TRACKS Program                                         Participants:  Youth 

    To see the turtles walking around while hearing Wendy speak about the importance of protecting wild turtles really drove the message home. It was such an exciting afternoon for our campers and the questions were infinite! OTCC is an absolute wealth of knowledge and the positive impacts of the centre are felt across the province. We have a bunch of turtle lovers on our hands!

    Contact:  Rachelle Barrington     Event description:  Warsaw Caves Conservation Area         Participants:  Discovery Days Participants

    Meridith Carter

    The personal stories of the ambassador turtles! Very impactful. Your presentation is a fantastic way to foster connections to local habitats and wildlife. We have had you out before and will again! It is highly relevant to the objectives of ORCA and is always well received by our park visitors and staff alike.

    Contact:  Camp Counsellor            Event description:  Camp Kawartha Day Camp                      Participants:  Aged 3.5 – 5 years

    Engaging the audience with the turtles (kids LOVED it) Presentation was very informative and educational. Great amount of “take-home-knowledge” for campers was easy enough for the kinder campers to understand. Great job!

    Contact:  Thivya Siva                        Event description:  Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust            Participants:  Aged 3 – adult

    The OTCC presentation was a huge hit with all attendees – from children aged 3 to adults.  Both Wendy and Rachel were excellent with the children, keeping them engaged from beginning to end and answering all their questions.  OTCC staff are very knowledgeable and passionate about what they don, including teaching individuals how they can help the turtles of Ontario.  It was inspiring to learn about the different turtle species at risk in Ontario, including easy methods to identify them, and the threats they face.  The visual models were a great learning resource, as the children were able to touch the models without having to worry about hurting a live turtle.

    This informative presentation was great not only for children, but for adults and parents as well, as everyone left with lots of new knowledge, including how to safely help a turtle across a road.  The hands-on portion of the presentation was especially memorable, as it was the first time many participants were able to see a live Blanding’s turtle or Eastern Musk Turtle.  Thank you OTCC for a great presentation,  We will definitely be contacting you again for future presentations!