Joy Finnigan and Sheryl Rothert have started the Chilliwack River Valley Outdoor Learning Programs and the first session starts in April, 2021. (Submitted)

Joy Finnigan and Sheryl Rothert have started the Chilliwack River Valley Outdoor Learning Programs and the first session starts in April, 2021. (Submitted)

Chilliwack teachers offer in-person outdoor education to kids learning from home

Joy Finnigan and Sheryl Rothert have started up Chilliwack River Valley Outdoor Learning Programs

Two Chilliwack teachers are helping students who are learning from home by offering education in the great outdoors.

Joy Finnigan and Sheryl Rothert have started the Chilliwack River Valley Outdoor Learning Programs to get kids out of their homes and into an outside classroom.

“As B.C. certified teachers, we have seen the effects of COVID-19 on education and would like to offer a supportive solution for the Kindergarten to Grade 5 students, and their parents, of the Chilliwack and surrounding areas,” the poster reads. “Our aim is to create a bridge with outdoor learning to support the needs of students enrolled in homeschooling, distance learning and transition programs.”

The Outdoor Learning Program aims to develop the skills and healthy mindset for a lifelong passion of learning, and provide an awareness of the environment. The activities will supplement the B.C. curriculum in a nature-inspired classroom – the forest.

It runs on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from April 1 to June 24. A second day may be offered depending on the number of children enrolled in the program. Fees are $125 per month per child to help cover insurance and teacher salaries. There will be an initial $50 start-up fee for families to pay for individual “exploration kits” for each child. This will help support COVID-19 protocols.

RELATED: Outdoor learning space included in G.W. Graham expansion

Finnigan and Rothert are also hoping to bring the Heartwood Learning Community program to Chilliwack. It’s a “blended learning” system offered through Navigate NIDES (North Island Distance Education School) in the Comox Valley.

A Navigate NIDES education is free and follows the new B.C. curriculum, meets all provincially mandated learning outcomes, and is directed by a B.C. certified teacher. It provides parents a unique opportunity to learn from home but also to collaborate with teachers to work together and co-create a personalized learning program for each child according to their child’s interests, natural curiosity, imagination and joy of discovery. This program offers a unique face-to-face outdoor nature-inspired classes one or two days per week and gives access of up to $600 of student learning resources.

The Heartwood Learning Community program will only go ahead if enough children sign up.

Registration for both programs ends on March 31.

To register, or for more information, contact Joy Finnigan at 604-791-8788 or via email at


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