Adult Courses 2017

At Kortright Centre for Conservation we realize that education is a lifelong process. To provide educational opportunities for our adult visitors, we are introducing a series of adult workshops. All of our workshops are taught by experts in the field and provide hands-on training that will allow you to apply your knowledge in the field.


Ancient Technologies

Cost: $160.00 + HST
Saturdays 9am-1pm
NEW DATES: October 14, 15, 21,22

This four part course will take you back in time to the ancient woodland setting of the Kortright Centre. Join expert outdoorsman Jonathan Thompson to learn about the four essential elements of survival: fire, shelter, water and food. Learn the art of fire by friction and make your own fire-bow kit to take home. This course will cover a variety of important skills essential to survival including cordage, tracking, shelter building, finding potable water and foraging.

Session 1: Shelter

This session will cover the basics of shelter building: site location, types of shelters, dead space/trapped air and natural vs modern shelters.

This information will be put into practice through building a debris hut and leanto shelter with natural materials if available like grasses. You will also build a 'super shelter' which will incorporate modern materials including tarp/parachute clear plastic, mylar foil, raised wooden platform, hoops bent over platform for support of tarps/plastic.

Session 2: Water

The session will start with a lecture on water covering location/ sources, purification techniques natural and modern, wild teas, containers.

The you will be purifying water using both materials harvested on site some materials that will be provided like cloth, containers/ teapots. You will also learn to make wild teas on a candian bush stove.

Session 3: Fire

The session will start with a lecture on fire building covering types of firelighting and natural vs modern technology. Then the group will collect materials for bow drill/ handdrill friction firesandattempt to make friction fires.  You will also practice modern firelighting techniques including making charred cloth and using flint strikers.

Session 4: Food

The session will begin with a lecture covering the top five wild edibles and food procurement including fishing, hunting, trapping and stalking wild game. Then time will be spent making a variety of traps and other tools like an atlatls, rabbit sticks and arrowheads. You will also be cooking over the fire and learning various cooking techniques.

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Naturally Mindful

Fridays, Sep. 15 to Oct. 20, 2017 10 am to 12 pm
Silent retreat: Sunday Oct. 15, 10 am to 3 pm
Cost: $300 + HST

The restorative and therapeutic benefits of connecting with nature are well-known. Studies show that spending time in nature helps to bring about positive emotions, activates our parasympathetic nervous system which calms and restores us, and promotes positive mental health and overall well-being.

Cultivating mindfulness enhances our ability to connect with nature and only reinforces the benefits. In mindfulness, we train our minds and our hearts to live in the present moment and to bring a kind and compassionate attitude to all of our experience. Practicing mindfulness in nature can help us get to know ourselves better and learn to more easily switch from the busy "doing" (reactive) mode to "being" (responsive) mode. In turn, we can develop greater awareness and insight, as well as learn to meet ourselves and our experiences with wisdom and kindness. This 6-week course will help you to cultivate the practice and attitudes of mindfulness meditation in daily life by learning from your own experiences and from the wisdom of nature.

Each two-hour session will include teachings, guided practices outdoors, periods of silence, mindful journaling and group reflection. No experience with mindfulness is required for this course - those with any level of experience with meditation are welcome to enroll. Sessions will include gentle mindful yoga and/or other movement-based practices and all sessions will involve walking in the outdoors. Comfortable shoes and dressing in layers is recommended.

Note: In the tradition of most mindfulness courses, this course will include a silent retreat, which will be held on Sunday Oct. 15th, 10-3 pm. Further guidelines will be given in the course.

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The Art of Storytelling

Fridays 2-4pm, September 8, 15, 22 & 29
Cost: $179 + HST

This four-week workshop, presented by Dan Yashinky, is for environmental educators, historic site interpreters, classroom teachers, camp staff and aspiring storytellers. The goal is to create and practice a small repertoire of stories you will be able to tell in a wide range of settings. Participants will learn folktales, remember personal and family stories, and explore the art and tradition of storytelling in creative ways. Open to beginning and experienced storytellers.

Dan Yashinsky is a storyteller, writer, and community animator. He currently works as the storyteller-in-residence at Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care.

Week 1: Students will learn about traditions of storytelling from around the world, from fables to fairytales, from ghost stories to family lore. We will explore several folktales in depth, making connections to environmental and social justice themes. Students will choose a short folktale and prepare it for telling in week 2.
Week 2: Telling and listening. In small groups, students will have a chance to work on their short folktales. We will discuss how storytelling is part of personal and family life, and choose a family story to prepare for week 3.
Week 3: Telling and listening to family stories. How do families keep their stories alive? Prepare for final performance in week 4.
Week 4: Discussion of performance and setting. Practice storytelling in small groups and to whole class. The goal is to have a repertoire of stories you can put to use in your work.

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Organic Gardening

*FULL* Please check back in the new year for 2018 dates

Cost: $350.00
Sundays 1-4pm
March 26, April 23, May 28, June 25, July 23, August 27, September 24, October 15

This hands on, eight session course will cover all of the skills required to grow a successful organic garden. The course will meet once per month throughout the growing season at our organic farm and cover the following topics: seeding, site preparation, transplanting, planting for maximum yield, weed control, harvesting & succession planting, animal care, pest control, seed saving and fall planting.
Please bring gardening gloves, knee pads (if desired), sunscreen, hat, bug repellent, snack and a water bottle.

The Ontario Naturalist Certification Course Level I*

*FULL* Please check back in early 2018 for new course dates

Cost: $400

Learn a vast array of naturalist skills from experts in the field. This ten session course provides hands-on learning opportunities for budding and experienced naturalists. In this course you will learn; species identification, ecological significance, biology, memory aids, and threats to local flora and fauna. This new found knowledge will help you experience the natural world in a whole new way.

An ‘Ontario Naturalist Level I' certificate will be issued when all course modules are completed.

Course dates and times have been determined based on the best season and time of day for viewing wildlife in the field and speaker availability.

Module 1: Spring Wildflowers

Saturday May 6, 9am-12pm
$30 fee if not registering for the certificate course
April showers bring May flowers. Spring is a fantastic time for a walk in an Ontario park, especially before leaf-out. Learn to identify spring wildflowers like trout lily, trilliums, bloodroot, mayapple, and dutchman's breeches using keys and memory aids.

Module 2: Beginner Birding

Saturday, June 3rd, 9:00am-3:30pm
$80 fee if not registering for the certificate course
Bird watching and backyard bird feeding are two of the most popular hobbies in North America. With a wide variety of birds living in our backyards, nearby parks and outdoor spaces, such popularity is easy to understand. This workshop is a fun and educational introduction to birding and covers topics including: bird ID, feeding backyard birds, field guides, where and when to look for birds, recording field sightings and birding ethics. Join Kristen Martyn, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited Barrie and expert birder, to learn the basics of birding.

Module 3: Dragonflies and Damselflies

Saturday June 10, 1-3pm
$25 if not registering for the certificate course
Learn about the fascinating biology, behavior, natural history and migration patterns of some of the world's most ancient flying animals - the dragonflies and damselflies! Join expert David d'Entremont for a whirlwind tour of these strikingly beautiful insects and venture outdoors to learn some in-the-field identification while observing dragonflies and damselflies in their natural habitats.

Module 4: Tree ID

Saturday, June 24, 9am - 12pm
$30 if not registering for the certificate course
Join Natalie Swaak, an experienced urban forester for an interactive, hands-on training session to increase your Tree ID skills. This course will cover common tree species found in Ontario, natural history knowledge, keys and tips and tricks for identifying tree species.

Module 5: Bat ID & Survey Methods

Tuesday, July 4, 7:30-10pm
$25 if not registering for the certificate course
Learn about the only mammals that can fly and how their incredible echo-location system works! The evening will begin with a presentation covering a wide variety of bat related topics, including the species native to Ontario and threats such as White-nose Syndrome. The participants will then go out onto the Kortright Centre property to view live bats as they forage for insects overhead and identify them using sophisticated audio detection tools!

Module 6: Bees

Saturday, August 26, 9am -12pm
$30 if not registering for the certificate course
This workshop will give you an up-close look into the lives of these incredible insects Learn all about bee biology and identification, their role in our environment, and the threats to their health. We will also tour the active hives and bee education centre at the Kortright Centre. Build a native bee habitat to take home.

Module 7: Advanced Birding

Saturday, Sept. 9, 9am-3:30pm
$80 if not registering for the certificate course
This module is for those who have participated in the "Birding for Beginners" workshop or moved beyond bird watching basics. Our expert birder, Kristen Martyn will delve deeper into the more advanced birding topics including: difficult bird ID, bird calls, birding locations and habitats, optical equipment (binoculars and scopes), other birding equipment, nesting behaviours, Ontario migrations and birding etiquette.

Module 8: Reptiles of Ontario

Thursday, Sept 21, 7-9pm
$40 if not registering for the certificate course
A hands-on workshop featuring live reptiles from around the province! Learn how to identify and conserve Ontario's snakes, turtles, and lizard from Jeff Hathaway of Scales Nature Park. Learn threats and conservation issues key identification features, distribution, handling techniques, and much more! Participants will have the opportunity to handle various live species.

Module 9: Birds of Prey

Friday, Nov. 17, 7-9:30pm
$40 if not registering for the certificate course
Join Wild Ontario's naturalists for an evening all about birds of prey! In the first part of this program we'll cover the basics of biology, natural history and identification. Then meet some of Wild Ontario's live birds of prey, up close and personal. Finally, head out on the trails as we call to Kortright owls in hopes to hear, or maybe even see, some of Kortright's elusive nocturnal inhabitants.

Module 10: Methods in Environmental Education

Saturday, Dec. 2, 9am-3pm
$70 if not registering for the certificate course
An important part of being a naturalist is sharing your knowledge with others. This half day session will cover the current methods and practices in environmental education. You will gain hands-on experience in delivering environmental education programming and work with an experienced outdoor educator to learn the principles of environmental education.

*In 2018, we will be launching the Ontario Naturalist Level II Certification Course, an advanced level course.

Introduction to Beekeeping

*This course is full!* Check back for 2018 dates.

This seven part course provides information and hands on opportunities for the beginner beekeeper. Led by experienced apiarists, this course walks participants through the active bee season from April to November. Participants will learn how to build hive equipment, perform status checks of active hives, assess the health of the Queen, control for pests and diseases, harvest honey, and prepare hives for winter. Each session contains both in class learning and hands on experience in the bee yard with experts. Veils and jackets available on request.

Cost: $300 + HST

Preparing for the Beekeeping Season

Monday April 10, 2017 (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.)
Study the basics of bee biology and learn which plants are most important for the health of your bees. Participate in a hands-on demonstration on how to build Langstroth Beehives.

Opening the Hive after Winter

Monday May 8, 2017 (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.)
Learn how to properly open your hive after a long winter, check the health of the Queen and what to look for when monitoring for diseases.

Spring Hive Check

Monday June 12, 2017 (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.)
Acquire the knowledge to identify the different castes of bees, bee larvae, and eggs. Learn how to avoid swarming and the appropriate time to add honey supers.

Summer Hive Check

Monday July 10, 2017 (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.)
This class will focus on how to check the hives for various diseases and pests such as AFB, chalk brood, wax moths, and varroa mites. Learn how to apply treatments to the hives if such diseases or pests are found. Honey supers will be added to hives as needed.

Summer Harvest

Monday August 21, 2017 (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.)
This class will introduce the concepts of nectar flow and summer harvesting techniques. We will continue monitoring activities of the hives for pests and diseases.

Honey Harvest

Monday September 11, 2017 (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.)
Learn about the process of extracting honey from honey comb. Participants will learn how to properly use a honey extractor and winter bee feeding strategies.

Putting the Bees to Bed

Monday November 13, 2017 (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.)
This class will focus on the process of preparing the colonies for winter. Hive wrapping, merging, and common winter beekeeping challenges will be covered.