Healthy Backyards Program

The Cause

WILDNorth’s proposed new Healthy Backyards program is an environmental education program that targets communities in Northern Alberta, with the inaugural year taking place in and around the Greater Edmonton area. Built specifically for community leagues, these free one-hour presentations will be customized for each neighbourhood based on their green spaces, wildlife present in the area, and any focus areas requested by the community liaison.

Using artifacts, visuals and the neighbourhood’s own flora and fauna, the program will teach community members about what species are present in their own backyards, the role each species plays in the ecosystem, how to foster the health and balance of their green spaces, why green spaces are vital in urban communities, and the importance of healthy human-wildlife interactions. The program will also discuss what to do if community members encounter injured or orphaned wildlife and what they can do to help keep wildlife safe. The Healthy Backyards program will be led by a qualified WILDNorth educator with a background in conservation biology and who is an expert in safe wildlife interactions. To lend additional layer of expertise, support and local anecdotes to presentations, WILDNorth is able to secure representatives from the City of Edmonton’s Park Rangers as guest speakers.

Program attendees will not only be left with a newfound knowledge, appreciation and respect for their local greenspace, but they’ll go home with WILDNorth promotional material, a customized brochure with a summary of key points from the presentation, as well as action items for keeping their backyards healthy and wildlife friendly.

It is more important than ever for us to understand the impact our actions have on the environment, and it starts within our communities. The Healthy Backyards program will help educate Albertans about the positive impact they can have on our wild neighbours and the ecosystem with small changes and knowledge-sharing. From keeping communities free of litter to planting native vegetation and reducing pesticide use, there are countless ways our communities can help ensure the health of local wildlife and the environment. These concepts can be daunting, but if we start small—in our own backyards and local green spaces—we can make a huge impact together. The Healthy Backyards program is the first step.

Who Will it Benefit?

This project will serve all people and communities, spanning all demographics: adults, seniors, teens, children, families, singles, couples, neurodiverse individuals, individuals with disabilities, minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, indigenous communities, and everybody in between. It may be of particular benefit to immigrants and refugees who are new to Alberta and unfamiliar with local wildlife. Because wildlife diversity and stigmas vary drastically around the globe, the Healthy Backyards program will be instrumental in introducing newcomers to their wild neighbours and promoting healthy, safe interactions.

WILDNorth serves all communities in and around Edmonton (including Sherwood Park, St. Albert, Sturgeon County, Leduc County, Strathcona County and Parkland County) and all communities within Northern Alberta, with more than 80% of rescues and education programs taking place in the Greater Edmonton region. Our Wildlife Hotline serves all of Northern Alberta, from Edmonton to Wood Buffalo, providing expert guidance, education and assistance with wildlife concerns. Being the only full-scope rescue and rehabilitation facility north of Red Deer, our rescue operations extend across Northern Alberta, including Slave Lake, Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo. WILDNorth has provided rescue training and education to volunteers within several communities across Northern Alberta, including Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray.

In it’s inaugural year, the Healthy Backyards program will launch within the Greater Edmonton area. If successful, it is our hope that we’ll be able to expand the reach of the program to include communities in all of Northern Alberta.