Episode 3: Parks & Pollywogs

Ian Smith works with the Parks branch with the NB Government as a Program Manager. His gig includes wetland exploration at parks in NB, outreach, community building education, running the Get Outside program and enabling and facilitating experiential learning and interpretation. He is a grandfather, father and old fart who enjoys being outdoors and sharing the outdoors as much as he possibly can.

Parks play a big part as venues and with interpretive staff to help focus on connecting to nature but also playing the outreach role of NBers understanding where our parks are, what’s in them and why they need to be protected

-Why is it so important to get outside and be in nature?

It’s more important now than ever for all of us to get outside. The outside piece touches on the whole holistic human experience. It’s so important to have a good “natural vocabulary”- understanding what it’s like to be a little uncomfortable, to be patient and see what Mother Nature offers when she decides, and to listen and observe- especially since we are in a time when we have such an “on demand” lifestyle with our electronics and gadgets. We really need to go experience so we can value because if we value then we will steward and protect.

How can we claw back our perceived fear of nature (with the access to information constantly available now)?
It’s part of a global response to the whole challenge: Risk vs. Perceived risk. In a lot of ways, children now are much safer than 50 years ago yet because of perceived risk that we get through our media. We can help that through being educated experientially on how to Be in nature safely- knowing the risks and how to recognize them (like poison ivy). We are at a stage where parks, schools and communities should be taking the advantage to safely introduce people to being outdoors in steps/stages- including the physical literacy part of it but also the unstructured play outdoors. The unstructured play is good for understanding how your body moves, building your community by playing with others, using your imagination and being outdoors.


“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share … the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in. I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel.”- Rachel Carson

Ian’s top 3:


Favourite place:  Mount Carleton and close second: Spednic lake                           Favourite food: His wife’s cheese dogs (would not go into detail of what this involves.)
Favourite activity:
Hanging out with his grandkids.

Experiential learning: https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/resources/integrative-learning/experiential-learning

Richard Louv- The Nature Deficit- http://richardlouv.com/


GNB Parks: http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/thc/ParksandAttractions.html
Sugarloaf Provincial Park: http://parcsugarloafpark.ca/summer/

Mount Carleton Provincial Park: http://www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca/Products/Parks/MountCarletonProvincialPark.aspx

The Parks Green Book: https://issuu.com/nbtourism_tourismenb/docs/2016_green_book_june17

The Nature Playbook: http://www.parks-parcs.ca/english/nature-playbook.php
NB Environmental Network: http://www.nben.ca/en/