Outdoor classroom at Holiday Beach. (Courtesy ERCA)

Holiday Beach Conservation Area in Amherstburg has a new outdoor classroom, thanks to a donation from the University of Windsor Alumni Association.

Members of the Association joined the Essex Region Conservation Foundation on Wednesday to dedicate this innovative learning space as part of the University’s Alumni Week celebrations.

“We are happy to play a role in creating this importance outdoor space especially during a time when students of all ages are learning in unprecedented and unique ways,” said Beth-Ann Prince, University of Windsor Alumni Association board president. “Educational spaces like this one will benefit current and future University of Windsor alumni, their families and the community.”

The association donated $50,000 in 2019 toward the outdoor classroom and research at Lebo Creek Wetland.

The importance of outdoor learning spaces and providing opportunities for young people to connect with nature cannot be overstated.

“Like the University of Windsor, Essex Region Conservation believes outdoor education is a building block for the success of future generations,” said Claire Wales, vice president of the Essex Region Conservation Foundation.

“A compelling body of evidence clearly shows that introducing kids to nature has numerous health benefits, including increased physical activity, healthier body weight, better concentration, reduced symptoms of ADHD and anxiety, and improved energy. As well, time spent in nature during childhood is one of the biggest factors that contribute to environmental stewardship in adulthood.”

In addition to providing enhanced learning experiences for the young people who participate in field trips to Holiday Beach, the outdoor classroom will be used for other educational workshops such as migration talks, banding demonstrations, and owl prowls.

Student researchers from the University’s Ornithology Department, who regularly conduct field work at the site, will also utilize this educational space.