DSBN Officially Opens Walker Living Campus at Woodend
A beaming sun provided the perfect backdrop for the official opening of the DSBN’s new environmental education centre in Niagara. Nearly six years in the making, the Walker Living Campus at Woodend opened to much fanfare from the students, staff and partners in attendance.
“We are living in a time when environmental stewardship is more important than ever before,” said Warren Hoshizaki, DSBN Director of Education. “The learning that takes place here will empower students with the knowledge and desire to care for the Earth and live in tune with the natural environment.”
The Living Campus will help bring learning to life for students at the DSBN. The facility is expected to host over 10,000 students each year. Nestled atop the Niagara escarpment, the Living Campus is surrounding by lush, green trees and is home to many different forms of wildlife. Students will be immersed in the natural beauty of the area while learning about the surrounding ecosystem.
The development itself includes a spacious school house consisting of two classrooms, a gathering place where students will explore sustainable building practices and renewable energy sources. The building also includes a green roof, the only one of its kind in the entire Niagara region. The outdoor classroom brings students even closer to nature by placing them amidst the vibrant foliage and robust woods surrounding the development.
The DSBN’s project leader on the development, Kevin Graham said a development of this type cannot be done without the help of an incredible group of supporters and partners. “It takes a lot of people to make a vision a reality,” said Graham.
One of the key partners to support the project was the Walker family, which made the single largest donation in the history of the DSBN. Family representative Geordie Walker said the family was extremely proud to be part of this project. “It is an amazing legacy for future generations in Niagara,” said Walker.
Other important partners on the project include the Canadian Wildlife Federation, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, Cogeco Cable, Ontario Paper Thorold Foundation and all DSBN schools.
The campus sits atop land owned by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. Chair Bruce Timms joined the celebration and said the Living Campus “lays the foundation for developing an appreciation for diverse species of birds and trees amongst students, which aligns with the NPCA’s mission.”
St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley presented Director Hoshizaki with a scroll congratulating the Board on this unique and progressive development. “As a teacher, I know that not all learning takes place inside the classroom. This facility will create many new learning opportunities for students,” said Bradley.
Students had a wealth of learning opportunities in the development of the Living Campus. Specialist High Skills Majors students worked alongside the contractors on the construction of the project. Horticulture students prepared the landscape design and did all planting on site.
Construction on the project began in September, 2014. Funding for the $2.8 million dollar campus was obtained through a dedicated fundraising and sponsorship campaign.