History of Project WET
The Canadian Water Resources Association (CWRA) began in the early 1990’s to investigate how they might enhance their work across Canada by extending water education to youth. After consultation with youth educators from a variety of both governmental and non-governmental agencies, it became clear that it was not necessary to develop a new program. Rather, the task was to choose a high-quality youth education program which could be effectively implemented in Canada.
The Project WET 1.0 program (Water Education for Teachers) was chosen. The learning activities are fun, hands-on, engaging for youth and educator friendly. The activities promote critical thinking, problems solving and teamwork. They help young people gain knowledge and make informed decisions, that is, they help young people learn how to think about water issues, not what to think. For a more complete overview of the Project WET program content, goals and objectives, please visit the Project WET Foundation website at http://projectwet.org/
The former Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management (SERM) and the Continuing Education Department at the University of Regina brought Project WET preview workshops to Saskatchewan in the spring of 1995. Educator reaction to the three workshops in Saskatoon and Regina was extremely positive! CWRA – Saskatchewan Branch, in partnership with SERM, began fund raising to bring the program to Canada. SERM, CWRA-SK, Environment Canada, Agri-food and Agriculture Canada and Sask Water were the major donors and initial partners forming the Project WET Saskatchewan Advisory Committee. The sum of $35,000 was raised, of which $10,000 USD was paid to Project WET International to buy the exclusive franchise to Project WET for Canada, becoming the first international partner of what was to become the Project WET Foundation.
The first international agreement was signed in 1997. In 1998, CWRA Canada became the national sponsor of Project WET in Canada. Environment Canada extended financial, staffing and materials development support up to the spring of 2012. Environment Canada staff also completed a direct translation of the American Project WET 1.0 manuscript into French and researched additional Canadian maps, data sets and reference lists.
Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia were the first three provinces to train Project WET Facilitators from 1996 – 97, and then to formally introduce the programs provincially. The Project WET Canada program expanded outward and Coordinators and Facilitator networks were established to deliver the program to educators in the Yukon Territory, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Workshops were also organized and presented on request in Alberta, Quebec, Ontario and Nunavut by certified Facilitators.
Revitalization of Project WET Canada Program 2012-Present
Environment Canada devolved its support of the Project WET Canada program in spring 2012. CWRA Canada contracted a part-time National Education Coordinator to take over the day to day operation of the program across Canada. The first task was to conduct a program status survey and needs assessment. The resulting report, Starting Points, was completed in the fall of 2012.
Starting Points identified key action items including renegotiating a new international agreement with the Project WET Foundation (2012-13), implementing the new, revised Project WET 2.0 Activity Guide for the English program in Canada (2013-15), and developing an on-line Canadian content supplement (2014-15). Further, the National Education Coordinator actively liaised with the provinces and territories already involved in the Project WET Canada Network to help them re-energise their programs (2013-14) and reached out to areas where the program was not yet established, working towards building regional, provincial and territorial programs (2013 – ongoing).
Project WET Canada and CWRA member volunteers have also been working on completing the first module of a planned three module set, which will provide the best of the Project WET activities in French, as a support to francophone schools as well as French Immersion classrooms across Canada. This material is being adapted from the manuscript previously translated by Environment Canada (2013-ongoing).
In 2013 the Northwest Territories formally joined the Project WET Canada Network and began to implement Project WET presentations, mini-workshops and then began full certification workshops. In 2014, CWRA-Project WET Canada donated 80 Project WET Activity Guides to the Nunavut Department of Education. Project WET has now been recommended as a resource to the new Science Curriculum being implemented in Nunavut. This past January, a full certification workshop was delivered by the visiting Northwest Territories Coordinator to the educators in Coral Harbour, Nunavut.
During 2012-14, foundational work took place towards implementing Project WET in Alberta. On April 22nd, Earth Day 2015, Alberta’s first Facilitator Leadership Workshop was delivered in partnership with Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, training eight new Facilitators and positioning the program to become operational province-wide.
In February 2015, the first Regional Program agreement for the St. John’s, Newfoundland area was formally signed by Fishing For Success of Petty Harbour. Presentations are currently being made to local environmental groups to build momentum for a Project WET certification workshop this coming fall. A Project WET display will be part of the regional celebrations of Ocean’s Day on June 6th.
The National Reach of The Project WET Canada Program:
The Project WET program is offered through many university level Teacher Education programs across Canada as part of the students’ pre-service preparation in environmental education. Programs which have hosted workshops in the last three years include: the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University in BC, University of Saskatchewan, University of Regina, the Indigenous Education programs offered by Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP) and the Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP) in Saskatchewan, Brandon University in Manitoba, Queen’s University, University of Ottawa, and University of Waterloo in Ontario, and St. Thomas University and Crandall University in New Brunswick.
Presently, the organizations that participate in the Project WET Canada Network include: Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories; Yukon Department of the Environment; BC Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation; Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, SaskOutdoors (formerly Saskatchewan Outdoor and Environmental Education Association); Ducks Unlimited Manitoba; Institute national de la recherche scientifique, Centre Eau Terre Environnement, Nova Scotia Environment; Tantramar Wetlands Centre, New Brunswick; Department of Environment & Conservation, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Fishing For Success, Petty Harbour NL.
Project WET Around the World
Project WET continues to grow from its small beginnings in 1984 in North Dakota. Canada was the first international partner, in 1997, of what has grown to become the international Project WET Foundation.
Project WET is now active in more than 50 countries on five continents. The Project WET learning materials have been translated into many languages including Arabic, French, Hungarian, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish. Project WET 2.0 is now being used by the second generation of learners worldwide.