As a volunteer-driven organization, we want more new Canadians involved in our innovative school program. There’s so much they can give, and receive in return, by volunteering with us, helping children discover the wonders of the natural world! So we will organize a series of talks by our former MP Frank Valeriote, plus current new Canadian volunteers, to a wide range of multicultural communities, on the opportunities and benefits of volunteering. We will also welcome other non-profits to join us at these special events, so that all sectors of our community will benefit from this initiative.

To nominate this charity, please scroll to the bottom of the page and complete the nomination form


  1. Peter says:

    As a volunteer in the program, and observing that all involved (parents, teachers, fellow volunteers, and of course the kids) all have high praise for it, I feel that I’m giving my time in the right place. Besides, it’s fun!

  2. Evan says:

    Many children have lost their connection with nature: the ‘nature deficit disorder’. Focus on Nature is the antidote!

  3. Rosanne says:

    Focus on Nature workshops invite children to experience the wonder of nature through the lens of a camera. Mentored by adult volunteers, the kids connect with nature in surprising ways. As the program expands into Waterloo region, feedback from teachers, administrators, parents and the kids themselves, tells us we are onto something important!

  4. Jorge says:

    FON is spreading wisely like a ‘cure’ to fight against children’s nature deficit in our communities. We are currently seeing the benefits to children from reconnecting with nature, especially when the program lures them with technology (i.e., digital photography). FON has presented a unique recipe to also make kids to become more self-aware of their potential as future artists, which is having a huge impact on their self-esteem.

  5. Alan says:

    Kids NEED this !

  6. Suzanne says:

    My husband and I love the work that Focus on Nature is encouraging. The children learn new skills while appreciating the beauty of nature. Who could ask for anything better.

  7. John says:

    I am a firm believer that most children suffer from “Nature Deficit Disorder” and we have to find ways of getting kids out of the house, away from cell phone video game and TVs.
    So Focus on Nature is at least one way to get the kids out of the house and become active and appreciate our environment.
    John Be Boer

  8. Gill says:

    Focus on Nature truly does make kids engage with nature in new ways: not despite technology, but because of it.

  9. Melanie says:

    Focus on nature is an incredible opportunity for kids connect with nature in a way they have never experienced. It is so great seeing kids bloom in unexpected ways. I love this program!

  10. Shirley says:

    For almost 9 years, Focus on Nature has been using photography as a tool to inspire young people to open their eyes and notice the beauty of nature all around them. It’s amazing to watch kids experience that – to see their eyes light up when they see a tiny bug on a flower, or notice a dew drop hanging on a leaf. It’s that noticing that draws them closer, and makes them fall in love with nature in a new way.
    As volunteers we feel privileged to be part of that, and it opens our eyes too! There’s an amazing sharing that happens when the FON volunteers and kids go walking on their photography field trips, cameras in hand, observing the natural world as artists! The more we can do that, the more we can involve the entire community in sharing that appreciation of nature, the more we’ll take care of our natural areas. At the same time, we’ll reap the proven mental and health benefits of “nature time”, and inspire a new generation to get outside.

  11. Cynthia says:

    I fully support this ambitious initiative to help get kids outside and enjoying time in natural settings! Overheard from a little girl who was carrying the camera she had been given for the day, heading out to the wooded area…”This is the best day of my life!”… Need we say more?

  12. Cynthia says:

    I fully support this ambitious initiative that helps get kids outdoors enjoying nature. Overheard from a little girl who was heading out to the wooded area, carrying the camera she had been given for the day… “This is the best day of my life!” Need we say more?

  13. Shari says:

    I have seen the kids out on the trails with their leaders and they are having the time of their lives. So many children do not get the exposure to nature that many of us take for granted. A very worthwhile and special organization.

  14. Sandy says:

    The investment in children learning about nature in all it glory is without question a great priority. Nature instills in children a sense of beauty and wonder. It exposes children to things that are alive and growing and promotes curiosity and exploration. Focus on Nature is a wonderful way to allow children the benefits of seeing and understanding some of natures qualities while developing respect for flora and fauna.

  15. Olivia says:

    FON allows children to get in touch with their creativity while exploring what the earth itself has provided – vegetation, animals, rivers. With opportunities to work individually and together, they get an experience that shows them perspectives from all directions, opening their minds to the endless possibilies that both photography and nature can offer.

  16. Ruth says:

    Having children discover the world beyond electronic devices is quite a challenge. FON does an incredible job in demonstrating to kids that there’s an interactive activity that is even more engaging than they could have ever imagined. Real life, real time adventures where they are the producer. The “actors”, large and small ~ from the tiniest insect to the tallest oak ~ are available at every turn. And they, the photographers, get to create powerful stories with their cameras; the take-away products are satisfying and rewarding. The photographs that these kids create provide a unique lesson that the future is in their very capable hands. They hold the power, and it is FON that plants the seed.

  17. Mike says:

    The Focus on Nature program is an outstanding program. In addition to learning new skills, students across our school district have gained a deeper appreciation of nature, creation, and stewardship through this program. The photos our students produce through participation in this day-long program are breathtaking. We are grateful to the many dedicated volunteers who work with our children and provide such a rich learning experience.

  18. Caroline says:

    It is magic to see the excitement in children’s eyes when they learn to see life through a lens. I helped teach a Focus on Nature course a few years ago and enjoyed it as much as the children. It would be a wonderful way of introducing new Canadians to Canada.

  19. Robert says:

    The SPARK Photo Festival in Peterborough Ontario has offered the FON program several times at the Art School of Peterborough. The feedback from parents and especially the children has been tremendous. A testament to the quality of the program, some children have found it so inspirational, and so much fun, they have returned for a second year.

    It would be wonderful if the FON program could be offered province wide.

    We consider ourselves fortunate to have been able to bring the program to Peterborough as part of our festival even though we are not in your catchment area. Partially this is serendipitous. Simon, the FON Executive Director, and myself, the SPARK Festival Director, were partners in business together for several years, and one the founders of FON attended Trent University. Thus it is with great pride that at SPARK, we celebrate FON’s mission and achievements, and with a little envy, that our schools don’t have the same access to this program as you do in the Guelph/Waterloo region. Maybe one day?

    Building a deep affection and connection to the natural world through the art of photography has so many upsides, it would be difficult to describe them all.

    Our children deserve more innovative programs like FON. Keep up the great work!

  20. Martha says:

    FON provides a wonderful experience for children who would not otherwise be exposed to the beauty of nature and feel the connection humans need with their natural surroundings.

  21. Robin says:

    I strongly believe in the benefits of nature and the creative arts. FON is the perfect marriage of the two. It is appealing not only because of it’s orginality, but becasue it bring just enough technology to the table to be comfortable and accessible for the kids, even after the class room experience is over. FON deserves everyone’s vote!

  22. Patti says:

    Being creative and experiencing nature are so important for children’s well-being. Focus on Nature delivers both! I support this proposal.

  23. Jennifer says:

    When I witnessed the collection of nature photographs on display it was hard to believe that they were taken by such young “artists”. Exceptional work by all of them capturing details in the outdoors that are often unoticed or underappreciated. Kids need to keep connected to nature and this is a wonderful program that encourages them to do so.

  24. Sandra says:

    I support Focus On Nature for what they represent and what they do!

  25. Jim says:

    The visual inspires emotions and sensitivity. Fine motor skills are transferable. Mentoring,… experiencing the excellent attitude shared through constructive critiques with the talented staff is a life expanding opportunity. Awe, humility, and joy are instilled, as self confident participants manifest life in life.

  26. Karen says:

    Fantastic organization, very deserving of support.

  27. Lindsey says:

    Focus on Nature is a wonderful program. I am continuously impressed by their work and its impact on kids and the broader community.

  28. Kathy says:

    Investing in children pays dividends for a lifetime

  29. Jim says:

    As an outdoor educator I see first hand the important impact of connections with nature for children. I wholeheartedly support this amazing initiative!

  30. Peter says:

    Now more than ever we need young people (all people of course!) to connect with nature. FON does it in such a unique, fun and engaging way. I strongly support their proposal!

  31. Pat says:

    This is such a worthwhile and healthy project, providing kids with an opportunity to explore nature and to tap into their own creativity. I heartily endorse FON. Pat

  32. Cindi says:

    Focus on Nature is such a wonderful opportunity for Guelph’s children. Some of the photos the students have had on display are simply amazing—they are worthy of a photo spread in National Geographic!

  33. Patricia says:

    This will be our daughter’s third summer at FON Camp. When we asked her for her “must do” this year, FON was number ONE on her list. The combination of nature, photography and technology is perfect and she has learned so much about her world and herself! We look forward to bringing FON to her Grade 4 class next year. We vote for FON!

  34. Bill & Olga says:

    Focus On Nature is a fresh approach for the newbie enthusiast. It’s great to see what they have captured on their travels through the natural areas of our region… and not a selfie to be seen, what a relief. Simon and his group of volunteers have opened the world up to a lot of young eyes and given a new perspective to individuals that are not always respected for their creativity and talents. Expansion into Waterloo Region’s highly technology based environment with FON’s nature focused vision couldn’t come at a better time. It’s time to get back to nature and the beauty that is waiting there to be seen. The young will stop and smell the flowers and show us the pathway back.

  35. Roblin says:

    Focus on Nature encourages children to explore nature through photography. The children in the workshops work with adult volunteers to slow down and really look at what is around them. The program is great for the kids and their teachers, their schools and for the volunteers! The intergenerational and multi – community contact between the children and volunteers is an experience that not all kids or adults have in their day to day life but all benefit from. Focus on Nature encourages and provides an avenue for that interaction.

  36. Mark says:

    I am currently involved in a research project aimed at helping Focus on Nature improve their program. When reviewing relevant literature, many benefits of the Focus on Nature program became readily apparent. Nature deficit disorder is the term used to describe the disconnection in modern society that many of us have from nature, and some researchers believe technology to be the culprit. Seeing as though lots of children already use technology and are enthusiastic about doing so, the idea of getting children to spend time in nature through the medium of photography is a great idea. In my visits to some of the Focus on Nature workshops, I have seen that although photography is a focus, it is evident that connection to nature is the most important aim of the organization. This is shown in the knowledge of plants and animals that the Focus on Nature volunteers have and that they like to share with the children, as well as their respect for the natural areas that they visit and their appreciation of the beauty found in the pictures that the children take. The volunteers of Focus on Nature set an example for how all people should act towards nature.

    Research shows that spending time in nature can create more of a sense of belonging, can increase creativity, emotional, sensory, and cognitive development, and can foster a range of mental health benefits, such as decreasing anxiety, depression, stress, and attention-deficit disorders, as well as increasing a general sense of well-being. Additionally, time spent in nature increases carefulness towards the natural environment and an increased propensity to protect it. The enthusiasm found in both the children and volunteers in Focus on Nature workshops seems to indicate that the children gain inspiration from these experiences, that encourages them to spend more time in nature than they did previously. Given all of these benefits, it is a blessing that an organization such as Focus on Nature exists in a society that seems to put nature by the wayside most of the time, and it would be of great benefit to many people, communities, and the environment, if they were able to continue to grow.

  37. Burl says:

    In an unfocused world where today’s innovation is tomorrow’s obsolescence, helping young people focus on anything worthwhile is indeed a meritorious calling. Focus on Nature helps young people learn about both technology and nature. Creating their respective photographic portfolios by using nature as the subject matter develops appreciation and respect for the environment – and each other.

  38. Kat says:

    I love FON

  39. Kalina says:

    Fantastic program! Focus on Nature gave my daughter an experience that she will build upon for a life time. Im so glad that she was able to be part of something so special

  40. Marlene says:

    FON connects kids with nature! Something that’s missing in today’s society. I support this proposal!!

  41. Geoff says:

    Focus on Nature is an amazing program! I was drawn into the organization by the concept and it’s been a thrill to see the program grow and reach more youth year over year!

  42. Carol says:

    Focus on Nature is a terrific program, and broadening its reach into the multicultural communities is a brilliant idea. I support this 100%!

  43. Gillian says:

    This is an amazing program and I really think that they should win because they do amazing things. I was in the camp my first year here in Ontario and it was such a fun adventure. I have now helped with this program for two summers it has really opened my eyes on the environment and how to show it is different ways. From this and other nature programs I now have a co-op with the arboretum and is looking forward to helping this program more with there presentations that they have from the arboretum. This is why I think that they should win.

  44. Sheila says:

    I can think of nothing better than having children connect with their natural creativity while promoting a value of natural beauty. There is so much more to life than machines. Focus on Nature promotes the splendour that is all around us.

  45. Garan says:

    Amazing Experience with Fantastic organization

  46. Cynthia says:

    I think the FON program is an excellent way to connect kids with nature. Children are such keen observers and they notice details adults miss. This was demonstrated by the amazing photographs that was on display during the last garden party. Introducing our children to nature at an early age is the best way to protect and care for our environment and use our natural resources responsibly. Giving children the opportunity to observe nature through the lens of a camera is a fun and unique way to introduce them to our natural world.

  47. Gisèle says:

    FON is so much FUN for all participants, students, parents, teachers and volunteers alike. FON is a brilliant program! Kids learn about the elements of design in photo-art in the classroom setting and then quickly move outdoors to apply newly learned skills while using technology. Kids are engaged from the first introduction of workshop leaders to the very last second of the group-share at the end of the day. An Oak Tree donation would greatly support FON as digital technology is ever changing and expensive to replace.

  48. Gabriel says:

    I am 15 years old. A year ago I came from Peru. I learned about Focus on Nature through my father. I was brought up immerse in technology, which is good. However, because of it and living around wonderful natural settings, I lost all my childhood to a X-box. Do I regret it now? I do. Living in Guelph we go to walk and I do take advantage of taking pictures. I love it. I shared Focus on Nature web site with two teachers in my country and they were so excited that they want to repeat the experience with younger kids. I just told them, it works. I will be immersed to help other kids no to make the same mistakes as I did. Nature is the best and we have the right to enjoy it!

  49. Nicolas / GM snapd Guelph says:

    Child + Camera + Nature x FoN = Beautiful Photographs!

  50. Chris says:

    Focus On Nature is a fabulous program and connects kids with nature in a hands-on and meaningful way. The photos the kids take are simply awe-inspiring. Focus On Nature rocks!

  51. Carla says:

    I learned about this organization through a friend/colleague of mine and was fortunate enough to secure two class spots for a Focus on Nature “photo workshop.”
    What an AMAZING and inspiring experience!

    Not only were the students surprised by the work that they generated but the pacing of the workshop was absolutely perfect for their age group and cognitive abilities. Some of my most successful photographers were students who struggle the most academically and so to see their confidence shine was a gift to us all!

    Best of all however, was the opportunity to spend a morning “noticing” the simple beauties of our community neighborhood and to reap the benefits of mindful, creative work. Students in my view, do not receive nearly enough opportunity to connect with their work in a curious, playful and inquiring way – which is why this workshop is something I recommend to EVERYONE who works with children! I’d even recommend it for any adult child who needs to remind themselves of how important it is to play again!

    Thank you, thank you and thank you for this incredible and lovely experience! I will cherish the memory forever!

  52. Gary says:

    Focus on Nature photography is a superb format to introduce or reintroduce young minds to the fascinating world of natural wonders, small and large, that are overlooked by many even though they are almost always within our reach.

  53. Cora says:

    FON workshops provide children with an opportunity to be creative, spend time with nature and learn in a kinesthetic way. It is such a wonderful opportunity to discover so much: a natural ability for creative work, how nature inspires and awes, a feeling of oneness with the earth, how being in a natural setting is relaxing and fun. Everyone needs more of all of this. And giving school children this opportunity will hopefully instill in them the desire to keep doing this in their lives.

  54. Bob says:

    In 2008, Focus on Nature was simply an idea of Shirley Hunt and Trina Koster. The initial 3 school programs have now expanded to approximately 90. March break and summer camps have been very successful and now expansion into Kitchener-Waterloo is well on the way. The idea has become a reality. Thousands of young people, their immediate families, friends, relatives and volunteers have been deeply touched. The eyes of so many have been open to the beauty of nature and the appreciation of our world simply by seeing it through the lens of a camera. There is no better way to get young people to appreciate nature than being involved in this exciting program.

  55. Dave says:

    Focus On Nature is an outstanding program. It provides students with a real and meaningful learning opportunity. FON enables students to learn new and valuable skills. And, importantly, it connects them with nature and helps them to appreciate the beauty around them.

  56. Trish says:

    As a student worked earnestly on her nature sculpture with her classmate she glanced up at me and said, “I don’t want today to end!” It’s a privilege to be a volunteer with Focus on Nature!

  57. Anne says:

    FON was a wonderful opportunity for my students to ‘slow down’ and become more aware of their natural surroundings. My students enjoyed every minute of this wonderful opportunity to learn the basics of photography as well as getting up close and becoming more aware of the nature that is all around them. As their teacher I thoroughly enjoyed working with the focus on nature team as they presented an excellent full day workshop. I look forward to volunteering with this group as I have recently retired.

  58. Karyn says:

    I knew this organization from UW website, I was so curious and I decided to meet with the manager and learn more about this program. Natalie was very nice and introduced a lot with her bright smile!! Thanks to her, I found this is a great and meaningful thing and I would like to do something for the local kids.

    FON enables students to focus more on the things around them. By inspiring children’s imagination and creativity, FON plays a positive role in the growth of children.

    I have involved in FON class twice. Natalie drove me to the school and we prepare for the class together, we had lunch during the break and go back home like real family, I really enjoyed working with her. I was really an unforgettable memory for me.


  59. Lawrence says:

    Focus on Nature is a wonderful program for children.

  60. Dianne says:

    What a joy watching children get out in nature. It is also a pleasure to watch children learn how to use a camera to create amazing art.

  61. John says:

    As a volunteer for Focus on Nature, I have been impressed with the enthusiasm displayed by the children. After listening to the basic instructions about how to produce a photographic work of art, they then proceed to take their own photos while out in nature. When they see their work on the big screen at the end of the day, they are very proud of their accomplishments.
    This program engages the children’s creativity in a very good way!

  62. Susan says:

    My granddaughter has participated in Focus on Nature camps during March break and in the summer. She has developed into a talented photographer over the years and is enthusiastic about photography. This would not have happened without Focus on Nature. The dedication of the staff and volunteers of FON to their mission is remarkable.

  63. Nancy says:

    Focus on Nature is a great program! The skills that the children learn are so valuable and they will take that with them in many years to come.

  64. Ashley says:

    FON is a great organization that helps to integrate children back into nature!

  65. Gail says:

    As a volunteer for Focus on Nature, I read some of the comments students write after they’ve spent a day in a FON workshop.

    Their words always take me by surprise, that they are surprised at their discovery of the natural world. Technology is all around us and kids want to keep up, but when indoors they miss the benefits and beauty of nature. When given the opportunity to experience the natural world, they express a real excitement for “seeing” nature and an appreciation for being shown. They respond with joy, appreciation and new eyes!

    Here are some of their comments:
    “I am so happy I got to learn about nature, thanks for showing me!”
    “I never knew what a tree looked like, thanks for coming to my school, you rock!”
    “thanks for coming to my school, this is the best day ever!”
    “I love Focus on Nature, please come back to my school”

    Focus on Nature .. What a terrific program!!

  66. Bandhanpreet says:

    Hello friends
    I would like to participate in this contest and one most important part is help you and support .
    I show our talent .when we like my talent .so I win .
    It is a great platform for us.

  67. Sarah says:

    I’ve volunteered as a program assistant for Focus on Nature and each time, I’ve come away with far more than I’ve given. The program is inspiring, educational, and best of all – so much fun! It’s amazing how with a little time, attention, and focus, we’re all capable of making incredible art. Participating in the program has made me more mindful about the natural world around me, and I see the same happen for kids who attend as well. They embrace the chance to get outside wholeheartedly and always want more. FON is invaluable and deserves all the support it can get!

  68. Chelsey says:

    Focus on Nature is an amazing program that truly understands the lack of connection we see between youth and our environment. They strive and dedicate all their resources to strengthening the connection young Guelphites have with the ever changing earth. This charity is a unique and beneficial part of our town!

  69. Audrey says:

    I participated in this program in Grade 11 and it was great fun! I didn’t realize how accessible the technology is to take good pictures, and it really helped me establish a strong connection with nature and my community. I was (and am!) so proud of the photos I took during the course, and it has helped me take better pictures to this day! My father is a photographer and even he was impressed with the photos I took under the leadership of the course instructor!

  70. Justine says:

    This is a great opportunity for kids! I support this all the way!

  71. Anna says:

    In today’s day and age where sedentary sheltered lives are synonymous with success, it is so important for children to experience the benefits of nature! This programme creates positive ties with the world that children live in and encourages healthy living!

  72. Kiara says:

    I support this proposal and think this is an excellent program that enriches our community!

  73. Bill says:

    As a volunteer with FON my fondest memory is of a child in a special ed class who struggled to sit quietly for our presentation of the elements of design!
    When we got outside he certainly understood our mission and captured many spectacular photos that he was so proud of. I am certain that he will never forget the enjoyment of that special class day!!!

  74. Chantale says:

    Spending time outdoors is great for everyone. It is best to learn to appreciate nature from a young age.

  75. Sarah says:

    FON is a great program!

  76. Dan says:

    Focus on nature was my boys favourite part of the school year! I nominate in the hopes that they can continue to expand the program and reach even more kids!

  77. Shannyn says:

    10/10 !! I wish I had something like this when I was younger!

  78. Karen says:

    Focus on Nature is a wonderful program for the young, it not only teaches children to take beautiful pictures, it gets city children out to explore nature, which is so important in life. ” Life is to short if you can’t stop and smell the roses”

  79. Jon says:

    It’s a great way to get kids to understand their environment.

  80. Heather says:

    Focus on Nature is an important organization for children in the age of technology and Screen obsession. Getting children outside to see the beauty, activity, mysteries and joy that is our natural world, while still incorporating the technology they love. Way to go Focus on Nature!

  81. Evelyn says:

    This is an amazing program. It supports the arts, the environment, community, schools, and richly beyond words the students and volunteers who participate in it. Every ounce of support this organization receives is invested totally in enriching and expanding this program so that others may benefit too.
    Evy C.

  82. Frances says:

    Great program that teaches kids the value and beauty of the natural world that surrounds them. Invaluable stuff. Amazing staff people, too!

  83. Sam says:

    This is a great idea!

  84. Marcus says:

    FON serves everyone in the long run. To connect young people with the natural world and its importance to the physical, mental and spiritual health of all is most important!

  85. Elsa says:

    Focus on Nature is a wonderful way to help children experience and appreciate the beauty of nature which will add to their general well-being. As an added bonus children learn photography skills.

  86. stephen says:

    This is an excellent program that fosters the development of healthy outdoor habits in young people

  87. Marianne says:

    Focus On Nature is an awesome program.! It is well worth our support for it connects children with nature which is a beautiful thing. Children are our future and with this connection with nature it gives more hope for Nature’s future. The photos that the children are capturing with their digital cameras are not only beautiful works of art but they provide an awareness of Nature that surrounds them daily. These photos can be shared by many and show the community the beauty of Nature and to appreciate all its glory.

  88. Bob says:

    I started volunteering with Focus On Nature in 2011, because it offered a wonderful opportunity to share my love of nature, photography and exploration with so many children. As Richard Louv pointed out in his book, “Last Child in The Woods” so many people today are suffering from “Nature Deficit Disorder.” As a program volunteer I have seen the benefits of the program in helping the students develop an appreciation of the natural world and gaining a major boost to their self confidence when they see what great pictures they can take. Another benefit is the intergenerational connections that can take place when the students have a chance to interact with adults that they would not otherwise get to meet.

  89. JANET says:

    I love what this organization does- getting kids outside, connecting with nature and seeing the world through a new lens.

  90. Randal says:

    Children learning about nature in nature: the perfect combination.

  91. Peggy says:

    Great opportunity for kids to connect with nature!

  92. Marie says:

    Children are the key to our future and they are loosing touch with the natural world and all its benefits both mentally and physically. Focus on Nature helps bring nature back into focus for kids. I think that is tremendously valuable factor for a healthy society.

  93. Steven says:

    This program is amazing because it combines artistic development, observation, and growth in the “natural” environment.

  94. Gabriela says:

    What a wonderful way for young people to feel connected and find a voice! Great job FON!

  95. Donna says:

    Seeing the world through the camera lens of the Focus on Nature program is amazing. it is exciting to see how children are mentored into artists, learning to make choices about their best work, and taking care to see their world uniquely , through unusual angles, and close up lens. The variety of work is so fascinating. It reflects the interests of the children and their feeling about what they see. I was so engaged and impressed with the program, so grateful for the extension of the program to more children in the Waterloo area. Talking to the children , and their parents, it was clear that the self esteem had grown through this program. They were proud of their work. One mother said, ” This is the best thing he has done in his young life.”

  96. Bev says:

    Focus on nature gets children out in nature in a way that they can embrace with technology. Time in nature has proven mental health benefits. A great learning event with many positive facets.

  97. Susan says:

    What a great programme Focus On Nature is. Anything that encourages our youth to get out and ‘focus on nature’ is a good thing in my books.

  98. Becci says:

    All you have to do is see the photos that were taken by the children involved in the Focus on Nature program to know that this is an extremely beneficial program for our young people.

  99. Samantha says:

    Focus on Nature is an incredible program allowing children to view the natural world in a new and different perspective. It is incredible to see how much they learn through these workshops!

  100. Simon says:

    Volunteers make a real difference in all aspects of community life. This proposal will make the Focus on Nature program stronger and also make our community more vibrant and inclusive.

  101. Barbara says:

    Fabulous project – Hope you win!
    I’ve always appreciated the work Focus on Nature does for the children and community at large! Thank you for your efforts!

  102. Cathy Jurchuk says:

    I have recently started volunteering with FON. It is an incredible organization that helps children discover nature! It is truely amazing what the kids see and their photographs are fabulous! Many more volunteers are needed!

  103. Yvonne says:

    Focus on Nature is a great organization that works with children to help them discover nature and an interest in photography. Often these discoveries enrich their lives and last a lifetime.

  104. Les says:

    Wish we had Focus on Nature in our area – it’s an owling success!

  105. Tim says:

    FON has the truly worthwhile goal of getting children to see and enjoy Nature, perhaps for the first time. However, it isn’t just the children who benefit. The volunteers walk away with a lot too. It is for this reason that I strongly support their proposal. Increasing volunteerism helps us all.

  106. Wendy says:

    I understand that the theme of this grant is “building communities where everyone can belong and thrive”. As a Gr 4/5 teacher, I have Focus on Nature come into my classroom every September for exactly this reason. Each and every student discovers that their abilities and potentials exceed what they they had imagined. Their pride and excitement is evident in their smiles as they display their photographs to their peers. The sense of community within the classroom is palpable as peers celebrate each other’s accomplishments – and ALL students succeed, regardless of learning styles/challenges. This is a key experience in the creation of a cohesive and supportive classroom at the beginning of the school year. Thank you FON, again and again.

  107. Heather says:

    Focus on Nature helps young people to see the splendors of nature through the lens of a camera. The art of photography allows for creativity, perspective and the sheer joy of being able to capture the beautiful essence of nature through all seasons. Kids and the outdoors are perfect partners. Add a camera, some instruction and a natural canvass and you have the making of young people who have a sense of awe, wonder and respect for the their natural home.

  108. Angela says:

    I love FON!

  109. Kim says:

    This program helps kids make connections to the natural world, to their creative selves, and to each other. I wholly support this proposal.

  110. Nancy says:

    As a Focus on Nature volunteer it is always a thrill to be with children as they explore nature with a camera. There is a sense of wonder and pride at the images they have captured.
    At the end of the day participants have realized a new way of connecting with nature . It is a great opportunity for students and volunteers alike.

  111. Lawrence says:

    Children are digital natives. FON is the perfect complement, marrying their love of technology with the environment, which will be instrumental in creating the citizens of tomorrow, who will be crucial for the survival of planet earth.

  112. Karen says:

    I fully support Focus On Nature.So many young people have lost touch with the natural world due to the plugged in world they are involved with.what a fabulous opportunity this group brings to these children

  113. Pat says:

    My class has been involved with FON for many years. This is such a unique experience for all of the children. There is no other program like it. It is one of a kind. No teacher alone could offer this to their students. The experience the FON members bring to the class is outstanding.

  114. Celia says:

    Any program that gets kids out in to nature and away from screens gets my support 🙂

  115. Tom says:

    What better way to support and educate our children then by helping to connect them with nature. It is uplifting, good for the environment, beneficial for the volunteers, and great for the self-esteem and development of kids. I’m glad to support Focus on Nature!

  116. Norah says:

    This is such a wonderful way for young people to get more Vitamin N ( for Nature) in their lives.
    Their creative endeavors enrich the whole community with these pursuits.

  117. Anu says:

    A well deserved project for children and especially the newcomers within the community.

  118. Jon says:

    FON is a brilliant form of science education combined with photo-art training. Gets kids off computers and into the bushes. Great!

  119. Andrew says:

    Nature and creativity go together. This is a great program deserving of our support.

  120. Alan says:

    This program brings nature to kids and kids to nature. Bringing kids’ digital life out of doors is a tremendous challenge, and FoN accomplishes this like no other program I know.

  121. Cameron says:

    I went to FON’s March Break camp and summer camp. They also came to my school. FON is awesome!

  122. Brian says:

    Focus on Nature is a great way to get kids connecting with nature!

  123. Kathryn says:

    “We will only save the thing we love.” I came across this quote a few years ago, but it stuck with me.

    As a School Board Trustee I was curious to see how Focus on Nature impacted the students in our Board whom participated in the program. So I tagged along with a recent Grade 5/6 Class at Erin Public School. Kids from one of our Developmently Delayed class also joined. I couldn’t get over the transformation of these kids through the program. After a morning of walking trails, fields and even finding a local pond (I didn’t know existed) we returned to the classroom with our photo treasures. When at times it poured rain – Simon and the instructors showed the kids how to take pictures of water drops in puddles and on leaves.

    In the classroom, the kids excitedly applied filters and other artistic features while others in the class took turns learning about nature and searching for nature on the school play ground. At the end of the day, each students displayed their 5 best photos and explained the photographic features of their photos. Their photos were outstanding, but even more importantly, in their voices ,you could hear the love for their creation and the nature in it. Kids “ooh’ed” and “aww’ ed” throughout the class presentation. Simon reinforced the stunning beauty of their work. You could see each student, even the most quiet among them, swell with pride.

    But what really got me at the end, was when Simon asked the kids “How many of you want to go home today and explore nature in your own neighbourhood?” – every, single student eagerly shot their hand in the air. This was the same group of children who, only hours before, saw their entire world through their screens. Focus on Nature opened up a new world to these kids.

    The Earth and its inhabitants are at a critical point in time, consequently we need every human to be driven by their compassion and love for the natural world to urgently solve the human made problems of climate change, scarcity of natural capital, and loss of biodiversity . Focus on Nature opens a door for future generations to explore, discover and love the natural world. It plays an essential role in an environmentally and socially responsible human presence on the planet. I hope you will support them.

  124. Craig says:

    In our FON class presentations we ask the kids how many languages they speak. It is interesting to see the variety. Our classroom are becoming truly multicultural. It is important to reach out to these new Canadians to help them understand and appreciate the beauty of nature we have here. It would be great to see more new Canadians involved as volunteers.

  125. Carole says:

    A great opportunity for children and volunteers!

  126. Paul says:

    The combination of getting kids outdoors and using technology is a great way to inspire them and take pride in the pictures they take

  127. Cheryl says:

    I love FON

  128. Kris says:

    Educating and exposing children to our natural environment is critical to sustainability and future of our world. I strongly support this very important project.

  129. Mary says:

    Excellent opportunity for children to learn photography skills, appreciate nature, and connect with nature. Exhibition of their photos supports these opportunities.

  130. Don says:

    The Focus on Nature program is one of the best that I have seen.

    It is an inexpensive, interactive session that stresses problem solving, creativity and the use of technology in crafting student owned imagery.

    As the former Director of Education with the Wellington Catholic District School Board I fully endorsed this quality learning experience for each of our schools. I am indebted to Trina, Simon et al for their time and expertise in making this an outstanding program

  131. Sandra says:

    I think Focus on Nature is a wonderful program that gets children out of the classroom and offers them a unique experience viewing the natural world in a new way. Outfitting them with a camera gets them up close to nature. I first knew of Focus on Nature when I saw photographs by students in several hallways of the Guelph General Hospital. In addition to engaging with the natural world through the lens, they also had the reward of seeing their photographs exhibited.

  132. Elaine says:

    I am writing as a retired Focus on Nature assistant and want to mention a few things I observed while I was a participant. First I want to ask how many young people have any exposure (no pun intended) to photography or in taking notice of nature in a very positive and inquisitive way. These concepts are what Focus on Nature does for young people. They are exposed to the Elements of Nature and immediately put that knowledge into action as they take camera in hand and start to explore nature all the while applying their newly learned knowledge of the Elements. I ask, how better to broaden ones horizons than through nature and photography and art.

  133. Sigrid says:

    The’ disconnect’ with nature and the environment which so many in our Western World are experiencing, does not bode well for the future of our Natural World. This excellent program can only serve to inhibit that disconnect and help to foster young people who appreciate and care deeply about protecting and preserving our environment. How can this be seen as anything but essential?

  134. Sonja Elise says:

    This is an excellent program, sure to expand the children’s appreciation of nature. It is a way of engaging young minds and hearts in a meaningful and productive way.

  135. Deborah says:

    Focus on Nature is an incredible, well organized program that can change the lives of children. As an art teacher for 30 years, I can’t emphasize enough the need for children to look around them and reflect through their own creativity what they see. This is of course is as well as the outdoor and learning technology components. Bravo to FON and all the hard working people that make it happen.

  136. John says:

    As a volunteer for Focus on Nature, I am always amazed at the quality of the images produced by the students. The students themselves are impressed with each others’ work and with their own. The program not only allows the students to appreciate the outdoors and nature but reenforces cooperation and respect of others within and outside the classroom, develops students’ artistic and technical skills and, perhaps most importantly, builds self-confidence. Although many of the students quite willingly describe one of their best shots, showing a relatively shy or known problem student a technique, having them use that technique successfully and present that image in the final slideshow, and then having them willingly and proudly tell the rest of the class how it was done is a big part of the magic that I find in the Focus on Nature program.

  137. Kathleen says:

    As someone who has seen the photos that the children take and the pride they feel showing their friends and family their new found creative talents, I know this program makes a difference!

  138. Ellen says:

    I have been following the work of Focus on Nature for a few year now. I have been to the children’s exhibitions and continue to be extremely impressed with the quality and creativity of the work displayed. It’s a very “feel good” sensation to know this work has been produced by relatively young children, getting out into Nature and learning about photography at the same time. A healthy activity combined with a valuable skill that will serve them well throughout their lives. Such a win win combination deserves to be funded, so that Focus On Nature can continue to grow and expand and educate children in this unique way for many years to come.

  139. Natalie says:

    This is a fantastic program that helps so many children connect with the natural world! It is such a great way to inspire students to see the beauty of nature up close.

  140. Pat says:

    FON shows young students the great beauty and wonder of nature in their own school neighbourhoods. You don’t have to travel to remote areas of our country to experience nature.

  141. Peyman says:

    I support this program because it reconcile art and nature in a meaningful way.

  142. Dana says:

    FON provides children with the opportunity to explore nature through a different lens.

  143. Sean says:

    What a wonderful project! Here’s a video I made supporting Focus On Nature’s submission:

  144. Talel says:

    Save nature , save life

  145. Michele says:

    What could be more beneficial to society than exposing children at an early age to the beauty of nature? By showing children how to stop, take notice and observe and then providing them with the opportunity to experience the personal thrill of capturing a beautiful moment on film. using their own creative skills kids just blossom. How exciting!

  146. Enid says:

    I think Focus on Nature is a great program with so many benefits for the students and the volunteers as well.

  147. Joanne says:

    Focus on Nature is an amazing project. Connecting children to their environment while developing creative talent through photography is brilliant. This is an important step in developing responsible stewardship of our planet. I would have loved for my daughter to have had this opportunity. Please fund this project.

  148. Sonja says:

    This is an excellent program, sure to expand the children’s appreciation of nature. It is a way of engaging young minds and hearts in a meaningful and productive way.

  149. Sigrid says:

    So many of us in our hurried Western World are ‘disconnected’ from nature and the environment. This program serves to foster an appreciation and respect for nature and our environment in youth which can only help to foster much needed advocates and protectors.

  150. Charles says:

    I think it’s essential for all of us, especially children to develop a strong connection with nature. I think that what FON does really helps foster that connection.

  151. April says:

    FON is an innovative program that hits multiple objectives in one cohesive swoop! FON encourages youth to engage & connect with the natural world that surrounds them, while also empowering youth through the use of a lens, developing technical skills, as well as providing a space for creative seeing & development. FON’s cross generational volunteer network brings all ages together, building community through
    sharing of skills, opportunities, education and equipment. It’s brilliant… and not hard to imagine FON growing in to a nationwide program. Way to go, FON!!

  152. Vanessa says:

    My granddaughter’s mother immigrated to Canada from Syria. I’ve observed first-hand how important the opportunity to feel at ease in nature is to the entire family’s well-being. Focus on Nature’s plans provide a great opportunity for new Canadians in our community.

  153. Karen says:

    I believe children hold the future of our planet and nurturing their connection to nature is essential work. Focus on Nature does a brilliant job at engaging young people.

  154. Gerald says:

    Wonderful opportunity for children to observe nature in an innovative way through photography. Great way to get them out into the natural environment as well.

  155. Margaret says:

    Kids need this! The community needs this! Great project!

  156. Joanne says:

    Having my kids emersed and appreciating nature and combining it with art and technology is a winner for me!

  157. Grant says:

    FON is a truly innovative and worthwhile experience for elementary school children to engage in. Not only does it achieve its commendable objective of helping kids overcome the nature deficit, which so many of them are afflicted with, they seem to thoroughly enjoy the day’s activities and classroom follow up. Keep up the great work being done to maintain and expand this tremendous program!

  158. Vicki says:

    I am a retired teacher with thirty four years of working with children. Over the course of my teaching career I saw my students becoming more and more involved with video games and other technology. Many were losing their connection with nature and all of the benefits that being outside provides. I believe that the “Focus on Nature” program is an excellent way to reconnect children with nature. Children involved in this program are developing important life skills that will have both short term and long term benefits. I believe that every child should have an opportunity to participate in this program at least once during their school career. In order to do this, more volunteers and resources are needed

  159. Bob says:

    Focus on Nature is a fantastic program for getting young students excited about nature and boosting their self confidence.

  160. Margie says:

    FON is a superb way to reveal artistic talents to children! I highly endorse this fantastic project!

  161. Shelley says:

    One of the best ways for people to become better stewards of nature is to start with kids, and one of the best ways to connect people with nature is through photography…FON really covers all the bases by combining the two! Kudos to the volunteers who make this program happen!

  162. jim says:

    Good organization. Good cause.

  163. Darby says:

    This sounds like an awesome program! I wish we had something like this in Haliburton for our kids.

  164. Arlene says:

    I believe that this is one of the most important things to teach a child …… how to enjoy, and respect their natural habitat. To see and absorb and appreciate the beautiful colourful palette that nature provides. One of the most calming things for a persons soul is a walk among the trees, or along the water. This should become part of the curriculum throughout Ontario. Bravo to the students! Clearly they are loving it. And a huge thank you to the volunteers, it couldn’t be done without you.

  165. Sarah says:

    I first learned of this charity at an Oak Tree event… and I was thrilled to learn the following year that my daughter’s school would be doing a session with Focus on Nature! She’s done the program 2 years, and it’s been a highlight of the school year each time. She’s been very proud of her work and has carried those skills into other photography projects. I would love to see this program expand and encourage more appreciation for nature and the art of photography for our young people.

  166. Linda says:

    Focus on Nature and the Oak Tree project is such a treasure for our young people ! Simon and team, please ! keep up the good work you do !!!! Thank you, Linda

  167. Duncan says:

    Who can possibly argue against getting children out of their classrooms, if even for a day, to explore nature in a guided and thoughtful way? As a school dropout, and subsequently both an elementary and secondary school librarian, I know whereof I speak. The routine of daily classroom work can be so wonderfully broken by an activity such as Focus on Nature offers, when children not only end the day charged up by being outside for some part of the day, but also getting some useful and practical skills in photography, which may stay with them for years to come. And the volunteerism that this program depends on is so commendable, because it so much enriches the lives of both the givers and the recipients. As the success of FoN grows, it would be a genuine accolade for The Oaktree Project, to think that it helped it helped in this small way of contributing to future FoN achievements.

  168. Nick says:

    I fully support this project. The result of Focus on Nature’s programs is much more than the 2-dimensional product that a photograph is. Focus on Nature brings children closer to nature, its beauty and its importance. It also provides an artistic outlet.

  169. Frank says:

    Orchids are the largest family of flowering plants with over 25,000 species and many millions of hybrids but most people have no knowledge of this. An effort should be made to make people aware of this and there is no better place than with children and FON.
    I plan on volunteering my time and skills to help improve this situation starting with the Central Ontario Orchid Society annual orchid show which will be held in Cambridge at the Hespeler Arena on September 23 and 24.

  170. Peter says:

    Now -more than ever we need to encourage connection to nature!

  171. Paul says:

    There is no better investment in our future than the education of our children, and certainly no greater need today than for them to appreciate the wonders of the natural world – both as a system by which we can live harmoniously with each other, and as a source of those “eureka” moments that can change the life of a child, and perhaps, the world.

  172. Mark says:

    My daughter participated in the program twice and had a great time. I was so impressed with the organization that I started volunteering with them.

  173. Fern says:

    Focus on Nature for the win!

  174. John says:

    Focus on Nature takes the young person to the artistic world where their unique creation of a picture of beauty can be appreciated forever. It opens up a world outside of social media.

  175. Oxanna says:

    Focus on Nature is a local success story. The positive impact that this organization has made is reflected in the enthusiastic comments of the children who have participated in FON’s program. Connecting with Guelph’s multicultural community is an important next step in FON’s attempt to reach out to all of Guelph’s youth.