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Winner of the 2016 Melanson Award

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Winner of the 2016 Melanson Award

Winner of the 2016 Bernie Melanson Lifetime Contributions to Environmental Education Award

In the above photo from left to right: Rod Figueroa (SaskOutdoors Past-President), Deborah Gibson-Dingwall (Award Nominator), Jim Taylor (Award Winner), Leah Japp (SaskOutdoors General Manager). Photo Credit: Nicola Chopin.

SaskOutdoors is pleased to award the 2016 Melanson award to Jim Taylor. Jim is one of the original and long-term facilitators of professional development programs delivered through SaskOutdoors that train educators in indoor and outdoor activities for youth that focus on the environment. Jim has been a staunch supporter of professional development for educators through workshops such as Project WET and Project WILD for over three decades in Saskatoon and northern areas.

In the mid-1980’s, Jim worked as a science teacher with the Saskatoon Public School Board, taking a lead role in science education for the board. He conducted many workshops to train Saskatoon Public teachers in Project WILD. He was one of the first Saskatoon teachers to train in Project WET when it was first previewed in Canada in 1995.

Shortly after he retired from full-time teaching, he began his second career in teacher education in the 1990’s, delivering science methods classes as a sessional instructor for the University of Saskatchewan. Most recently, Jim has been most known in his roles with the Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP), the Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP) in La Ronge and the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) in Saskatoon. ITEP extension programs were also offered in the Battlefords area and Duck Lake to name only a few locations. Jim delivered many, many Project WET and WILD workshops both on and off campus, often charging only his metrage to make the workshops affordable to students on reserve.

In addition to the one day workshops, Jim also delivered Project WET at NORTEP as an integral component of the science methods class, weaving it though the curriculum. In winter semester 2016 alone, Jim delivered Project WET to the U of S students as well as SUNTEP Saskatoon. Jim also participated as a resource person in several Facilitator Leadership Workshops over the years, identifying likely teacher education students as Facilitator Candidates and then mentoring them after their initial course work.

One time Jim shared an anecdote of delivering a workshop at one of the ITEP programs on a northern reserve. He shared how the students, often mature female students with school aged children of their own, were ‘running around like crazy’ during the outdoor activity. When they came puffing and panting back to the classroom, one of the older students told him, “I didn’t know that science could be FUN!” 

Jim was gratified for two reasons. First, he had been able to get the students to ‘buy-in’ to the program and secondly, the Indigenous students realized that science education wasn’t just ‘white man’s education’. Many First Nations people believe that science, as taught in the schools, undermines traditional values and beliefs. One of the reasons that the Projects have been so successful is that they are based on solid ecological principles, that is, congruent with traditional values towards the environment and they are FUN!

Congratulations Jim and all the best in your continuing work!