Fourth graders become species-at-risk superheroes!

Parks alone are not enough to save species at risk.

As we’ve continued our species-at-risk blog series this summer, we’ve been able to share stories of the amazing species that call parks home and the work being done to protect them.

Now we want to introduce you to the newest team of superheroes taking up the charge across Ontario – grade 4 students!

From the costume changes to maintaining your mild-mannered alter-ego, being a superhero is hard work!

But through virtual programming, we’ve found a way to build a community of species at risk (SAR) superheroes.

staff virtually presenting

Since September 2021, grade 4 classes — from Ottawa to Toronto, Sudbury to Sarnia, and everywhere in between — joined together to help species at risk in Ontario.

So far, over 7,000 students have participated in a free, two-part virtual school program offered by Ontario Parks Discovery staff.

What’s involved in becoming a SAR superhero?

Becoming a species-at-risk superhero requires some training.

First, students participate in a training session presented by an active SAR superhero – Ontario Parks Discovery staff.

During the virtual sessions, students are put to the test, learning about different species at risk in Ontario, exploring their habitats and the threats they are facing.

Five-lined Skink

Then, students are challenged to put their learning into practice to prove they have what it takes.

How, you may ask?

These fourth graders advocate for their species in front of their fellow classmates, school, and their Ontario Parks Discovery ranger.

Poster challenge

Completing this challenge is no easy feat!

Students begin by choosing a species at risk to investigate.

Student's poster
Get the buzz on bees with a highlight on the Yellow-Banded Bumble Bee

Using their new knowledge, they must figure out a way people can better share the places humans and their SAR live.

To put it all together, students teach others about their species through the creation of an awareness poster.

All of this in preparation for part TWO of their virtual program!

Here, students take on the role of “teacher” and present their posters to classmates and Ontario Parks staff.

Our Discovery staff cannot get enough of the teamwork, creativity, and attention to detail students put into every single poster!

Most noteworthy are the collaborative actions students proposed that we can all do to help keep these species around for future generations.

child's poster
We can and should all keep an eye out for Massasauga Rattlesnakes and other reptiles crossing the road!

Sharing their superpower knowledge with others

Becoming a superhero isn’t where each fourth grader’s commitment to species at risk ended.

Students committed to sharing their work around their school and communities to help others become SAR heroes too! Their amazing posters were put up in hallways, lunchrooms, libraries, and gyms.

collage of SAR posters

The species-at-risk posters were so amazing that Ontario Parks staff committed to sharing them throughout parks too!

Keep an eye out for these posters at select locations this year!

Your students can become SAR superheroes too!

To the teachers and students who have participated and taken on the challenge, we extend a heartfelt thank you!

We’ve had a blast connecting and learning with you and are thrilled to share your work with Ontario.

To all the other students and teachers who want to become species-at-risk superheroes – get ready to dust off your capes and thinking caps! It’s time to join the ever-growing community of grade 4 students helping species at risk in the coming school year.

Once program registration opens, you can sign your class up for a program here: Ontario Parks Discovery School Programs

Want to learn more about species at risk and the work park staff and community members are doing? Read our blogs featured in the species-at-risk series!