From our Experts

Photo : © Mario Francoeur

From our Experts

From the Educational Programs of Today to the Environmental Stewards of Tomorrow

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With its unique, 423-hectare ecological network and rich biodiversity, Mount Royal is central to the lives of Montrealers and virtually serves as an open-air school. Easily accessible to hundreds of thousands of people, the mountain’s natural environment is perfect for exploration and learning. Emily Coffey, Head of Education Services and designer of several programs for Les Amis de la montagne, as well as a number of projects supported by the Ministère de l’Éducation [Quebec’s department of education], talks about the organization’s essential role in environmental education and in preparing the next generation of environmentally responsible citizens.

For over 35 years, Les Amis de la montagne has been introducing young Montrealers to the fascinating world of environmental science on Mount Royal. More than 125,000 of them have participated in our activities over the years. No matter the season or weather, we offer a host of educational and recreational  activities for children and school groups of all levels. Accompanied by our educators, kids are treated to an unforgettable experience on the mountain, whether with their class or as summer day campers.

Our school programs are based on a teaching approach designed to awaken a sense of wonder and promote the scientific, experiential and sensory exploration of Mount Royal. They incorporate the objectives of the Québec Education Program in an effective and stimulating way, while allowing the children to gain hands-on learning in nature.

Here are two of the programs that are particularly dear to us: 

Seeds for the Future of Mount Royal – Primary 1 & 2 and Secondary

This program was interrupted during the pandemic, but we have obtained the funding to relaunch it in fall 2023. In this tree seedling production program, participants learn about the life cycle of trees and the role they play in the ecosystem and the everyday life of humans. The students begin by collecting tree seedlings in Mount Royal Park. At the end of winter, they plant the seedlings in their classrooms and tend them until May. In the spring, the little trees are transferred to a nursery that the children visit with Les Amis de la montagne staff.

Forest School on the Mountain – Designed for ages 0 to12

In the past, we have welcomed hundreds of parents and children into this educational program that focuses on the environment, nature immersion and scientific curiosity. Our long-term programs bring children into regular contact with nature throughout the seasons, with the objective of creating strong, emotional bonds with the mountain while stimulating their overall development. Given the current economic environment, it will be difficult for us to offer the full version of the Forest School on the Mountain this spring. However, we will use the program as our inspiration to create new activities for families and children in 2023.

These activities will: 

  • Allow children to experience nature in the heart of their city and instill in them a sense of responsibility to the environment.

  • Forge bonds between the children, nature and Mount Royal and develop a sense of belonging.

  • Enable the children to have new experiences that focus on free play and exploration and promote their well-being.

  • Spark the children’s curiosity and develop their analytical skills.

It isn’t always easy to make these programs accessible to families and children. Les Amis de la montagne works tirelessly to maintain them, but we can’t do it without the generosity of our partners and donors. If you believe, as we do, that it is vital to act today to create the environmental stewards of tomorrow, consider making a donation. The next generation…and the environment…will thank you for it.


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