Environmental Education To Go

By Michelle McChristie

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Cat Leonard has a novel approach to environmental education. While working as a student teacher, she was exposed to the challenges of organizing field trips—the cost, paperwork, and limitations in terms of the distance students could travel. She pondered the benefits of an environmental education program that could travel to the students and took a leap to make this a reality by purchasing a school bus in 2013.

Leonard and her husband Warren Pringle have given the 2001 Bluebird an extreme makeover. They have transformed it into a mobile classroom complete with a wind turbine, solar panels, and internal energy station that demonstrates how renewable energy is converted to electricity. The bus, which also features environmentally sound decor such as locally harvested and milled wood and repurposed church pews, is wired with a computer and monitor for on-board lessons, and its engine has been converted to run on biodiesel. Leonard says they will “start using vegetable oil from seven local restaurants as soon as the weather warms up… the dual tank system is in place and we’re ready to roll.”

The EcoBus delivers hands-on, curriculum-based programs for grades three to nine, with high school programs soon to come. “Thunder Bay is fortunate to have an abundance of urban greenspace—our programs encourage students to appreciate and care for their local environment,” says Leonard.

For more information or to book a session call 768-5760, visit theecobus.ca, or find them on Facebook.