In March 2022 three teacher candidates from the Bachelor of Education - Elementary program were selected to attend Inside Education’s Forest Education Conversation (ForestEdWest). This conference, centered on Forest Education, brings together educators, teachers and teacher candidates in Kananaskis Country. 

We would like to thank Mr. Steve McIsaac from Inside Education for providing this rich learning experience to our teacher candidates. We look forward to future collaborations.

Teacher candidates Ashlyn Scott, Charlies Neild and TJ Davidson were selected to attend this conference that was funded by Inside Education. Here are their reflections: 

Charles Neild: 
Honestly, the weekend at ForestEdWest was one of the most impactful experiences regarding education. The opportunity to meet and be inspired by educators and various other professionals was spectacular and genuinely reinvigorated me for my future career. With the projects that these experts were working on, I can already picture how to do similar things in my future classroom or taking the class out to do those great things. 

My key highlight from the weekend was meeting experienced teachers who were willing and gave fantastic advice. The lessons I learned from talking to people over breakfast, lunch and dinner were just as impactful as the well-put-together presentations and seminars we got to attend. I appreciated the growth from the beginning feeling out of my depth to eventually being able to feel comfortable engaging in the round table conversations on Sunday.

Ashlyn Scott: 
The ForestEDWest Conversation was easily the most eye-opening and engaging experience I have had in regard to education. To be frank, the program for this conference was daunting, however, I am so thankful that I followed through with the opportunity. The workshops and breakout sessions broke the day up and every session had something new to offer, leaving me constantly engaged with the content. I came back from this conference with an abundance of information and resources that I can authentically utilize in my future teaching practice. For example, Inside Education offers kits that teachers can obtain for activities like classifying leaves or measuring the circumference of a tree. Additionally, Alberta Tomorrow offers simulation technology that teachers and students can use to learn about and predict the state of our environment based on how we treat the land. 

The aspect I was most excited about was networking, and the individuals that I met here are people that I expect to be in touch with for my entire career. The job and location diversity of people at this event allowed me to experience various perspectives across the map, anywhere from program designers to classroom teachers to forest advocates. Moreover, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to listen to and speak with one of our keynote speakers, Bruce Kirkby. Bruce’s stories and photos of his adventures have inspired me to travel the world and deeply appreciate the land for what it has to offer. I truly wish that everyone in my program could have experienced what I did here at ForestEdWest, as I feel much more equipped to address environment-related topics with my future students and colleagues. 

TJ Davidson: 
In one word - Wow! I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this year’s ForestEdWest Conversation with my peers. Prior to the conference, I had little to no understanding of forestry and its role in education. Now, I find myself with a reignited inspiration to educate with greater awareness of and appreciation for the land. 

Through attending the workshops, field tours, and presentations this conference offered, I left with an abundance of new resources, connections, and inspiration. While I enjoyed every aspect of this conference, I was especially interested in learning of the Awaken Inquiry and Adventure program (previously known as the Academy of Inquiry and Adventures) from Rob Buchanan. Conversing with Rob furthered my inspiration and value for the concept of inquiry-based learning that Mount Royal’s BEd STEAM semester introduced me to. I appreciated that this conference allowed us to connect with the speakers to inquire further on the resources/opportunities they presented. I hope Inside Education continues to offer this opportunity to MRU BEd students as I would recommend attending to all current and future teachers!