Photo: The John R. Park Homestead Heritage Centre is expected to open in the coming month
Essex– Learners of all ages will be able to better connect with nature at the Toldo Foundation Outdoor Classroom & Wildlife Viewing Area, which will be part of the new John R. Park Homestead Heritage Centre, expected to open in the coming month. Thanks to a generous gift from the Toldo Foundation, this important addition to the Centre will allow thousands of students and visitors to take in the historic outbuildings, heritage gardens and orchard, and most spectacularly, the best vantage point to experience the western basin of Lake Erie.
“At a time when connection to the outdoors and the need for innovative learning spaces has never been more important, the Toldo Foundation is proud to support the Essex Region Conservation Foundation and our students of all ages in the creation of a unique and environmentally conscious learning space,” said Anthony G. Toldo, Trustee of The Toldo Foundation.
The importance of outdoor learning spaces and providing opportunities for young people to connect with nature cannot be overstated. 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.
“The Essex Region Conservation Foundation is incredibly grateful to The Toldo Foundation for this investment in outdoor education as a building block for the success of future generations,” said Claire Wales, President of the Essex Region Conservation Foundation. “In addition to providing enhanced learning experiences for the young people who participate in field trips to John R. Park Homestead, the Toldo Foundation Outdoor Classroom & Wildlife Viewing Area will be used for other educational activities such as workshops, knowledge sharing and artisan demonstrations.”
The Toldo Foundation Outdoor Classroom & Wildlife Viewing Area will also provide a rest area for visitors wishing to immerse themselves in the experiences of the conservation area, but who may not be able to venture far from the main building. This is also for relaxation, meditation and reflection, which is especially valuable for guests with sensory sensitivity.
The John R. Park Homestead Conservation Area is a well-known destination not only for student field trips but also for tourists, and has been recognized with Best of Windsor Essex Awards for the past three years. In addition to the Toldo Foundation Outdoor Classroom and Wildlife Viewing Area, the new Heritage Centre will provide an equitable and accessible educational experience, enhanced exhibit and interpretive space, and serve as a Tourism Hub.
For more than 40 years, the Essex Region Conservation Foundation has been raising funds to enrich our region as the Place for Life. essexregionconservation.ca/conservation-foundation