If you are interested in the natural world, Vancouver Island is rich in learning opportunities. Courses range from the simple enjoyment of observing and learning about local wildlife to understanding the ecological issues facing our world. There are evening and weekend courses in and around Victoria as well as special residential excursions further afield to places like Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, Middle Beach Lodge and Yellow Point Lodge.
You’ll find different courses each term – marine biology, bird identification, horticulture, and even space exploration. Shape your knowledge about and appreciation for our natural environment with these fascinating courses. See what’s currently available on our Science and Nature Courses page.
An extended field trip to Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre provides you with a wonderful opportunity for hands-on, experiential learning. The Centre is a modern teaching and marine biology research facility operated by the five western Canada universities. Located on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island, it offers spectacular scenery and easy access to a large variety of environments, making it an ideal location for marine biology and temperate rainforest studies.
The intertidal area in and around Victoria is an ideal place to study marine life due to the easy access to different habitats, the tidal regime and the abundance of plants and animals. Our Between the Tides course helps you discover the different forms of invertebrate life that occur in the intertidal zone and understand how this diverse group of animals can survive under such harsh conditions. You will examine their habits of protection, movement, feeding and reproduction through this exciting and popular course.
Our Birding for Beginners course is an ideal opportunity for those of you interested in discovering the pleasures of bird watching and bird identification. In this series of four lectures and three field trips, you will learn the skills required to help with bird identification and avoid frustration and confusion. You will learn how to identify birds using postures and field marks, as well as songs and calls. In class sessions will cover the major bird groups seen around Victoria's back yards, forests, ponds and shoreline habitats; lectures include slide and video presentations.
Your horticultural interests will be further inspired by courses designed to give you an understanding of horticultural science and how it is related to many horticultural practices in the garden, nursery and greenhouse.
Space is a topic that has great public appeal, heightened recently by the “tweets” and media appearances of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield following his stay on the International Space Station. He made Canadians more aware of what it is to live and work in this zero-gravity environment and provided inspiration for others to take up the many challenges in science and technology that such missions demand.
If you want to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy a learning experience that is really special, consider one of our regular nature explorations on Vancouver Island.
Join Anne Fraser, Marc Bell and their team of naturalists in the casual elegance of Middle Beach Lodge. Explore the wonders and ecology of Pacific Rim National Park, with nature walks on Long Beach, the intertidal zone, the rainforest and the Wild Pacific Trail. Learn about the shipwrecks that spawned the West Coast Trail and perhaps see the grey whales migrating.
Spring is the focus of our Yellow Point Lodge nature tour, now in its 27th year. Enjoy a week-long exploration of the wonders of spring with biologists and artists. Birding, stargazing and computer/microscope sessions combine for an in-depth experience of spring.
Winter storm watching at the Wickaninnish Inn, where the rainforest meets the Pacific, brings you together with a team of Long Beach and Tofino naturalists for another unforgettable nature tour.
Visit the Science and Nature Courses page for a complete list of courses currently offered.
The Joy of Birds
2/4 The Canadian Arctic: A Naturalist's Perspective
4/28 Big Waves and Big Shakes: Marine Geohazards
4/28 Birding Basics I: Songbirds
5/21 Birding Basics I: Songbirds
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