Learning to care about the world during early years at St. Mary’s School

A world of wild nature came one step closer for St. Mary’s School’s Grade 1-6 students on Tuesday.

The Earth Rangers once again came to Estevan to talk to the local youths about the environment and how kids can get involved in helping protect the world around them.

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Earth Rangers presenters and animal handlers Denise Ferrada and Josh Mazza brought a few wild nature representatives to make the hour-long presentation more engaging for the young guests. Accompanying them during the presentation were a red tagu Crimson, American kestrel Maverick, Harris’ hawk Sonny and pine marten Timber. The Earth Rangers’ animal family is much bigger, and they decide on which members get to travel depending on the destination and other circumstances.

Josh Mazza
Animal presenter and handler Josh Mazza has been working with American kestrel Maverick for about three years. Photo by Anastasiia Bykhovskaia

“We have quite a few (animals) back home. A lot of the times which animals get sent to which provinces can depend on permitting and what animals are allowed into the provinces,” said Ferrada. “A lot of them have gone through sensitive training, which ones are comfortable in schools, which ones aren’t.”

Presenters also have a say in choosing their company, because they are a comforting element for the animals when they appear in front of big groups of people. Thus Mazza has been working with Maverick – which belongs to the falcon family and despite its first-sight cuteness is quite a serious predator – for about three years. He said that the bird is one of his favourite animal partners for the tours.

The event at St. Mary's started with a funny video of wild animals and people dancing, which was received with rippling laughter. Even though the presentation included a lot of awe moments, it touched on many serious issues and provided a lot of useful information.

“We want them to start learning about the environment and how they can protect it because it’s not in the best way right now. And (we want to) give kids the message as well as the tools to do that,” said Mazza.

Denise Ferrada
Animal presenter and handler Denise Ferrada had to wake up a 14-year-old red tegu Crimson for a picture. Photo by Anastasiia Bykhovskaia

The Earth Rangers have visited Estevan before, but this is the first year they started a clubs program, which allows local schools to get kids more involved with environmental conversations and activities.

“We initiated a way for schools or even classrooms (to get involved) after the presentation. There are tools through our website and our resources online that they can create a club program with to do activities together as a class, have those conversations that we start,” said Mazza.

When the presenters asked if any of the students were already members of the Earth Rangers, well over a dozen hands flew in the air.

“The membership is a way for kids to get involved through different missions. Missions are things … where kids no matter where they are in the country they can get involved into … a green way of thinking, (things that are) getting them to start thinking about … protecting the environment from a young age,” said Mazza.  

Kids left for home with some information that they could talk to their families about. A lot of it can be found at www.earthrangers.com including different programs that kids can get involved with across the country.

Mazza, Ferrada and the animals have been travelling across Canada for a while.

“We drove all the way from Toronto to B.C., we toured around B.C. and now we are touring around Saskatchewan. So we’ve been in Saskatoon, Regina, Swift Current and now we are here, this is our final stop in Saskatchewan, and then we move on to Ontario,” said Ferrada.

Mazza and Ferrada will stay in Estevan for about a week providing more presentations in schools. They are currently touring 10 schools in southern Saskatchewan, through a tour sponsored by Vermillion Energy.

“Oftentimes it’s a way for the companies to get involved in the communities and try to help teach the community about environmental initiatives,” said Mazza.

The Earth Rangers is the largest kids’ conservation organization in Canada which provides children with a way to help protect the environment. 


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