About TRCA Education

As one of Canada’s largest providers of outdoor and experiential education, Toronto and Region Conservation is well positioned to be a champion of education for sustainable living.

With its roots in the Conservation Education movement and partnership building, TRCA has a rich fifty-year history in formal and non-formal education that today reaches 180,000 learners of all ages. TRCA programs encourage the growth and development of life-long learning, creative problem solving skills, ecological literacy, and foster commitment to action.

Our world is a web of relationships. Ecology, the economy and the human community interact in ways that we have just begun to truly understand. Our way of seeing the world has been shifting to reflect a more accurate view of how the world works – in networks of connections, rather than in discrete and separate compartments. This is called systems thinking, although it is also known as holistic thinking, or relational thinking.

In our old way of thinking, we used to make a distinction between natural and urban space – in our mind they were two very separate systems – but we can no longer afford to do so. Cities are growing at a phenomenal pace all over the world. So, if according to our old way of thinking, nature doesn’t exist where the city does, we are in global trouble! We must begin to think of cities as living systems – places where both natural and human elements interact and thrive. Without this shift, sustainability may be a goal that continually eludes us. TRCA has named its 10 year strategy Moving Toward The Living City.

To reach our goals, TRCA Education believes that, as teachers and learners (of all ages), we need to have tools that will help us combine sound scientific knowledge and meaningful physical and emotional experiences into a deep understanding of the relationships in the world around us (this is called ecological literacy). If we are inspired to value The Living City through investigating and experiencing its many systems first hand, then we will be much more likely to change and shift our behaviours to sustainable ones. Providing these opportunities is the work of TRCA Education.

We strive to embrace these concepts in our goals, which in turn create a ripple effect in our practice as educators and learners.

TRCA Education for Sustainability Goals (Based on A Systems Thinking Curriculum for Learning in The Living City) Learning should be:

Locally Based or “Grassroots”: designed for or by a particular population which values their specific geographical, socio-cultural, economic and physical needs;

Relevant to Learners: personal meaning is powerful, for example, learning is much more likely to endure when students clean up a ravine they play in, rather than watch a video of a similar clean-up in a place they will never visit;Experiential: when engaged in learning programs, people retain about 10 per cent of what they read, 20 per cent of what they hear, 50 per cent of what they hear and see, 70 per cent of what they say (in presentations or answering questions etc.) and 90 per cent of what they do themselves;

Life-Long: the joy of learning doesn’t end with graduation, but continues throughout a person’s personal and professional life; and

Systems Thinking: is one important tool that can help learners and teachers simplify the relational and interconnected issues of our times, and thereby help them to identify effective, realistic and sustainable solutions.

TRCA education-diagram


TRCA Education is made possible through the generosity of donors.

Contact Us

Visitor Service
Hours Of Operation: Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Phone: 416-667-6295
Fax: 416-661-6610
E-mail: visitorservices@trca.on.ca