Power To Be uses a Theory Of Change framework as an evaluation tool that looks at the intricacies of people and how they change behaviourally, physically, and socially. Our program theory of change is: “Power To Be’s participants’ sense of self and community is positively increased by removing barriers to access nature-based programs”. To achieve this change, our programming approach is guided by 8 outcomes to support growth and impact in our participants.
At Power To Be we often refer to nature as a “co-facilitator” to our programs. The natural environment we explore provides not only the setting, but the lessons, the adventure, the playfulness, and the space to heal or ground ourselves. We gain so much by having nature by our side that we strongly feel it is our responsibility to also take care of the environment. This means being conscious of the type of impact we have on any given area, reducing our environmental footprint as an organization, and teaching others to appreciate and respect nature. Our Environmental Literacy outcome from our Theory of Change guides these values and practices when it comes to the change we hope to influence in our participants.
When looking at the progression of Environmental Literacy in our programs we have three indicators. The first is within our direct sphere of influence – we model respect for the environment in our programs, teach ideas such as Leave No Trace principles and encourage participants to learn about the plants, animals and environments we explore. Secondly, our belief is that these positive experiences inspire both awareness and a sense of care that will hopefully lead to further action and education. Lastly, what we love to see is participants taking this beyond Power To Be programs and becoming advocates and stewards for the environment in their personal lives.
Based on this Outcome, in 2021 our program team has put a lot of intention into weaving good environmental practices and education into our programming curriculum. In the first six months of the year our programs have spent over 415 hours directly in nature, and 39 programs included environmental education in its curriculum. This has come in many forms such as fun nature facts, Leave No Trace principles, presentations on specific ecosystems, pollinators, animals, weather systems, currents and so much more! Some programs have led to deeper conversations on the impact of human activity in the outdoors and how this can influence the behaviour and health of animals. We have also partnered with a few organizations, such as the Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT), to support and educate ourselves and our participants on ways we can better support our wildlife at Prospect Lake and learn more about the local inhabitants. Recently we connected with a participant who is a Butterfly Ranger with the David Suzuki foundation (see her story here). Marnie has since come to our Prospect Lake site to work with our staff and volunteers to build and plant a pollinator garden! This space was designed to not only be helpful for the pollinators but will be an enjoyable and educational space for our site visitors to learn about these types of ecosystems.
“Everyone, no matter their age or ability, can do something positive for the environment. Tending a garden, raising butterflies, caring for a natural area or reducing energy consumption are just some of the simple ways you can make a positive impact in your own community. Every positive action leads to a sense of hope. And every bit of hope is empowering.”