Caitlin Hayden displays a silver fox pelt during a presentation to the Girl Guides.
I was born in Brandon almost three decades ago, and to this very day, my earliest childhood memories are of being raised by exceptional parents who took the time to introduce me to the seemingly omnipresent ‘wilderness’ of the southwestern Manitoba.
I was blessed with parents who took the time to ‘pay it forward’ and develop my awareness of, and responsibilities to, the importance of preserving plants, animals and their habitats.
And just as my parents expressed to us as growing children that wild space may be harvested in order to aid the household, we as developing citizens would be educated in order to provide for community and the environment as a whole.
Like most children back then, I just took it for granted that there was plenty of wild space and species. Well, more than two decades later, my rural upbringing has me within weeks of graduating for the University College of the North’s Natural Resources Management Technology Program.
However, being more aware and educated, my youthful perspectives have changed somewhat regarding the omnipresence of natural wilderness and wild space.
Following the last 20-months of training, I must share why my chosen (and perceived) ‘vocational’ training should also be declared as ‘educational’ and related to every single experience I shared here, and with my parents, in Manitoba’s outdoors.
As of late, wildlife management lectures have me thinking more about my education and my time here in The Pas — in rather different ways than that of simply equipping me with necessary skills for an environmentally-related job.
In these final weeks, wildlife management lecture topics, course requirements and attention have shifted from simple classroom testing and examination to moral requirements, societal responsibility, and assignments related to ‘being educated’.
The hypothesis presented to us as students was that being ‘vocationally’ trained suggests the development of competence in a skill or mode of thought, whereas being ‘educated’ suggests a linkage with a wider public and wild spaces conservation.
For example, a woman with a ‘trained mind’ is one who can tackle particular problems in a complete manner. An ‘educated mind’ suggests much more awareness of the different facets and dimensions of today’s problems
It is for this reason, I decided to use my education and share it with the Girl Guides of Canada.
I was a member of Girl Guides for 16 years; 11 as a girl member, four years a leader within a guide unit, and one year as a link (member at large).
Earning numerous badges and certificates throughout the various levels, and having spent almost half of my life within the Girl Guiding family prepared me to meet the challenges in life head on.
It also helped to form the path for my love for the outdoors, the desire to become educated, and to work with our natural resources, to help to protect them for future generations’ use.
Guiding in Canada (and Manitoba) started in 1910; the first Canadian Girl Guides Company was organized by Mary Malcolmson.
By 1917, the Canadian government passed an act of Parliament approving the Constitution of the Canadian Girl Guides Association.
Girl Guides Canada is now the largest national organization of women and girls. In 2010 the association celebrated its 100 year anniversary, and had 117,413 members promoting both national and provincial awareness of nature.
As recognition is part of core programming, praise is typically in the form of gratitude from others, pins, certificates and badges.
Following my facilitator’s direction, my parents lead, and ‘pay it forward’, I decided to really ‘use’ my education. On Feb. 2, and as a part of my course and program requirement, I decided to help the 9th Girl Guides and 6th Pathfinders of the Westman District and Crocus West Area earn their Naturalist Badges.
The purpose of the Naturalist Badge is to "stimulate appreciation and knowledge of the world of nature in every season and to encourage girls to develop skills."
Six of eight activities that must be completed to earn this badge include learning more about natural locations (eg. parks, marshes), animals including invertebrates, ecological terms, and the interrelatedness of everything in the environment. I couldn’t ask for anything more!
Well, this exercise brought it all together for me. Taking the time to present these young guides showed me that teaching (and learning) is a complex activity uniting processes such as instructing, training, and a good education, with the overall intention of getting youth to acquire these ideas in a manner that involves understanding — just as my parents explained.
Education continuously builds ideas and emotions, and it makes learning such a wondrous, ever-changing process that one would not always expect.
This course assignment helped me to help students acquire information, ideas, skills, values, ways of thinking, and a means of expressing themselves.
My first hope is that by acquiring their Naturalist Badges, they will better understand their natural world, be devoted to conservation, and encourage their productive independence, so they each become increasingly self-aware and responsibly creative in searching for high-quality lives — in the ‘natural’ outdoors.
My second hope is that the Natural Resources Management Technology Program will continue to educate our youth through movements such as the Girl Guides.
I also hope that just like Christina Riepsamen’s lead in 1927, the Girl Guide Cookies that will be given to my instructor Jeff will please him enough so that I may graduate!
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 3, 2012