The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority

For Families

Tiffin Education​ for Families​

We are all connected and rely on our environment. Children who come to Tiffin’s outdoor education programs get to move away from excess screen time, and build meaningful connections with the natural world. 

Let Tiffin’s educators help your children develop a sense of wonder, appreciation and respect for the natural world. Let’s discover, share and explore!

Tiffin Conservation Area is the centre of the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority’s environmental education programs. Located 15 minutes outside of Angus, Barrie and Innisfil, there are programs for children in preschool all the way to highschool. Programs are offered all year round and there is something for everyone!

Children playing on board walk

Camp Tiffin is an outdoor summer day camp. Activities include shelter building, hiking, canoeing, pond dipping, STEM, geocaching and wilderness survival – all to enhance childrens’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of our amazing planet

Adopted from our traditional summer camp program, this special edition of Camp Tiffin encourages outdoor exploration, guided excursions in the forest fueled by student interest.

Parents and guardians are invited to bring their children to the Tiffin Centre for Conservation where we take care of the programming so that families can spend time learning outside together.

Geared towards pre-K and children in kindegarten, this program focuses on child-led, open-ended and playbased learning. Children learn about risky play, and develop a better understanding of their relationship with the land.

Download this free flower map for the Tiffin Conservation Area and discover some of our favourite flowers. They include Round-lobed Hepatica, Jack-in-the-pulpit and Solomon’s Seal.

Meet Our Educators​

Naomi Saunders

Naomi Saunders

Manager of Environmental Education

Naomi finds herself feeling at home whenever she can be outside hearing birds and breathing fresh air.  She started forming connections with nature when she was quite young, and by the time she was nine years old she knew she wanted to share this passion with others. Starting her own nature walking club, she led many excursions in the ravine behind her home to explore the meandering creek. Memories of feeling the cold clay on her hands and feet, discovering creatures under logs and playing hide and seek with friends are the experiences that helped form who she is, and her goals in life. Inspired to share the wonder, calm and creativity that she feels when out in nature with others of all ages, she has been doing outdoor environmental education professionally since 2004. Naomi feels that there is so much we can learn from the land, and when children can guide their own inquiries, holistic and authentic personal growth is realized​.

To help her accomplish her goals she relies on her knowledge and skills gained through the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT), her additional qualification from Special Education part 1, and her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies: Culture and Education. More recently, Naomi took the Forest School course through Child & Nature Alliance of Canada so that she could become a co-learner with our youngest people and help them make similar connections.

Susan Hall

Susan has been an Environmental Educator with the NVCA since 2017. She grew up in King Township on a dairy farm, spending her time exploring the fields, ponds and forests in her backyard and learning how to be a better caretaker for the land.  She has kept that love of nature throughout her life by receiving an education from Fleming college where she graduated with two diplomas’ in Ecosystem Management, one with an Emphasis in Indigenous Perspective.

The thing that keeps her and her family rooted and focused in life is by keeping that connection to nature alive. She loves inspiring kids to find their own passion for the natural world so that they too can have a life long love of nature.

Bob Cole

In 2004 Bob began a career as a music educator, teaching private guitar, bass and piano lessons to hundreds of students over the years. Bob would go on to develop a music program with the Elite Montessori in Mississauga, as well as teach at some of the largest private music instruction facilities in Canada. 

In 2007 Bob was able to combine his love of teaching music with his enthusiasm for outdoor activity when he discovered a volunteer opportunity establishing a music education program at the “Pragya School for Underprivileged Children” in Kathmandu, Nepal. While in Nepal, Bob hiked the Annapurna circuit across Thorung La, the highest mountain pass in the world. He also helped to lead a youth white-water rafting trip with Just-One, an NGO providing assistance to homeless children aging from 5 to 16. Bob’s time with Just One showed him the incredible resilience and strength of children living lives unimaginable to us here in Canada, but also the preciousness and fragility of childhood. 

Upon returning to Canada, Bob settled in Vancouver, B.C., where he returned to private music instruction, and began to build his own private business while working on his M.A. with Athabasca University. British Columbia also provided an opportunity to enjoy the outdoor life; numerous kayaking, camping, and hiking expeditions later, Bob returned to his hometown of Barrie, Ontario to raise a family and start a music school of his own: The Modern Music Studio. 

In 2017 Bob was privileged to find a position where he could combine both his love of the outdoors and his love of working with young children. As an Outdoor Educator with the Tiffin Centre, Bob especially enjoys leading groups of young children around the diverse 300-acre property. Bob’s approach is inquiry based, allowing the students to direct topics of discussion as they enjoy the programming of the day. 

Bob is also a disc golf enthusiast. In his capacity with NVCA, Bob designed and helped establish the “Goldilocks Disc Golf Course”, a nine-hole disc golf park designed specifically for children. Bob has taught hundreds of kids of all ages the joys of this low impact and highly accessible outdoor activity. Bob has also helped to develop some SHSM programming including GPS and wilderness survival. 

Bob is also currently developing the “Music, Movement and Mother Earth” program, part of the Tiffin Centre’s preschool nature camp activities. In this program children discover the interconnectedness of the rhythms and melodies of nature, whether by imitating a songbird’s call, listening to the rustle of the leaves in the trees, or stomping on the ground or in puddles along with a beat. The hope is that children will begin to understand that music is all around them, whether at home or in the forest, and that this will lead to a love of rhythm and melody (as well as the outdoors) that can last a lifetime. 

Bob holds a B.A. from Queen’s University, and an M.A. from Athabasca University. He has also taken a number of courses with Georgian College specializing in Astronomy, Navigation & Orienteering and the use of GPS and compass, as well as basic survival skills.

Stephanie Zsolnay

Stephanie completed her diploma in Outdoor and Adventure Education and guided canoe trips for at risk teenagers in northern Manitoba and Ontario. While guiding, she realized that while spending summers taking kids on canoe trips was fantastic, she wanted to steer her career in a path that would present more opportunities to inspire children at a young age to care for and protect nature. She went back to school for Ecosystem Management Technology and has taught with the NVCA as an environmental educator ever since.  

She has worked and volunteered with kids in the environmental industry for over 8 years and feels strongly that one of the greatest ways to protect nature for future generations is to instill a deep connection and love for the natural world at a young age. Stephanie’s greatest joys in life come from being outside and discovering how many things can be seen in nature if you spend time and look a little deeper. When she isn’t teaching, she enjoys hiking, canoe tripping and camping.

Amanda Mc​​Kibbon

Amanda is passionate about child and youth psychology, animal well-being, and environmental conservation. While completing her BA in Psychology (focus on abnormal and child mental health) at Wilfrid Laurier University, Amanda spent her summers working for the Ministry of Natural Resources in forest fire management where she had the opportunity to explore, protect, and camp in remote forests across Ontario. 

After graduating from university, Amanda spent 8+ years working in child and youth mental health, first,  in residential treatment homes supporting children, youth, and families working through behavioural, emotional, and relational challenges; and then at the Hospital for Sick Children with young parents and their children, in both the Psychiatry Research and Adolescent Medicine departments.

Following her passion for animal welfare Amanda then completed an MSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare Science at the University of Guelph. Afterwards she worked at the Ontario SPCA for 7+ years where she had the honour of leading the Indigenous Partnership Program, the Affiliate program, the Annual Educational Conference, and the Human-Animal Bond program. In addition, Amanda was the lead for the organization’s Humane Education program, which, under her leadership, grew to integrate Indigenous perspectives and voices, and a systems type approach that sought to develop respect and compassion for the interconnected nature of the natural world (ie., people, animals and the environment), as well as developing the critical thinking skills, capacity, and inspiration to take meaningful action.

​These days Amanda spends her time in non-profit work both as co-founder of OneKind, and as a Board member for Youth Haven, as well as an Environmental Educator at the Tiffin Conservation Centre where she works with children and youth, nurturing respect and compassion for each other, the animals and the environment we all share.

Willem Span

Willem is an environmental educator with a passion for natural history. He grew up in Simcoe County, spending his free time exploring the flora and fauna of the area. He is an avid birder and wildlife photographer, allowing him to spend all his free time outdoors exploring! 

Having a lifelong passion for wildlife and the environment, he has worked and volunteered in habitat restoration projects and other environmental initiatives. This interest in the environment led Willem to pursue a bachelor’s degree from Carleton University in environmental studies and geography. 

Willem hopes to share his joy and passion for the natural world and to spark an interest in the next generation to protect and conserve our beautiful local ecosystems.​​

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