Awarded to an individual or group for significant contributions to creating or presenting conservation, wildlife or habitat programs to youth
Richard Wowchuk has been a teacher for 30 years. For the past 21 years, he’s been at Swan Valley Regional Secondary School in Swan River, Man., where he’s taught a course called the Resource and Environment Program. A multi-year course, it teaches students skills in resource management, including subjects such as ecology, field biology, forestry techniques, botany, surveying, silviculture and wildlife management.
On its own, the Resource and Environment Program is unique among options offered to secondary school students in Canada. Making it all the more special is the energy Wowchuk brings to the job, especially when linking classroom study with genuine field work. Over the years, he’s built partnerships with local environment groups, government offices and business to give his students an education to last a lifetime. Field work is a key component of the program, and Wowchuk’s students participate in projects ranging from tree planting in large-scale forest cuts and local parks to riverbank restoration, habitat enhancement and even providing staff for a local interpretive centre.
A dedicated educator, Wowchuk earns high praise from colleagues and students. More important, however, is the impact he has had on the lives of those who’ve passed through his programs. Many of have gone on to careers in resource management — and those who have gone into other fields have never forgotten its core conservation message.