About Nature Explorers with Technology (NEWTs)

The NEWT program is organized and jointly run by Thunder Bay Field Naturalist (TBFN) club and the Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies of Lakehead University (LU Science). It will engage young persons (about 15-19 years of age) in nature exploration and learning about natural sciences. In accepting that today's youth has a strong interest in using digital technology, the program attempts to integrate nature and science exploration with the use of cell phones, digital photo and video cameras, and sharing observations and discoveries on various computer-based social media platforms. Participants will have access to computer and library resources of Lakehead University. The program is currently free, but minor transportation costs may have to be met. Parents of NEWTs are strongly encouraged to become mebers of TBFN and contribute to the running of the club and the NEWT program.

The program is in early stages of development, currently has its home base at the Claude Garton Herbarium of Lakehead University (and this website). It is hoped that the NEWTs themselves will take on the development of this website, as well as the publishing of their observations on iNaturalist, Facebook. Ultimately, vlogs will be published on their own YouTube channel. Schedules of planned activities will be communicated on a digital platform yet to be decided on and established. This website is meant to document and link to current and past events.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the first two inaugural meetings took place outdoors, on campus of Lakehead University and at Mission Marsh location of Lakehead Region Conservation Authority (LRCA). Geology focused meetings will take place in August 2021.


  1. To educate a new generation of science savvy citizens capable of making rational personal and professional decisions.
  2. To increase awareness of, and seek solutions to the conflict between environmental protection science and science on which beneficial, but potentially disruptive technological advances are made.
  3. Achieve above goals through active participation in visits to local science and technology establishments, regional protected natural areas, documentation of activities using digital and social media platforms.
  4. Enhance communication and accessibility of science learning to participants from varied, often underrepresented, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.


To register, go to the TBFN Youth Programming registration site. After registration, specific communication between leaders, parents and participants uses this email address: youth.programs@tbfn.net

Visitors and friends of registered members are welcome to attend ONE event prior to registration. As well, the imaging and video editing laboratory will be open to visitors on Wednesdays after 7PM, and Saturdays 9:30 to noon. Underage registered NEWT members must come with a friend or parent.

SCHEDULE and UPCOMING EVENTS (Spring and Summer 2022):

Note the dates may change. Once registered, check your emails from youth.programs@tbfn.net for the latest information.

April 14th -Thursday 7PM - Dr. Rob Stewart Snowmelt & Water pollution conductivity activity, and Dr. Michael Rennie Fish biology & water quality lab visit – See the role of environmental contaminants in food chains and behaviour changes in animals. If interest is there, this may lead to investigations of water quality in Lake Superior over the Summer.

April 16th - Saturday afternoon – 1PM Visit to the warm& tropical  Centennial Conservatory - economic botany, videography and photography skills. Prepare yourself to teach others how to use iNaturalist and record scientific data.

April 23th  (24th) William Bog – wetlands video and iNaturalist, Avenza wilderness orientation

City Nature Challenge- Please Watch this_> https://vimeo.com/689504304/593c6ad380, with April 30th Public Event at Mission Marsh Conservation Area from 9a.m. to noon, NEWTs are needed to help with iNaturalist instruction as volunteers and to record as many observations as possible, we need other volunteers to record video & images.

May 21st (May 22nd) Pine Bay or Caldwell Lake – iNaturalist observations, possibly water sampling, pending resolution of transportation questions

May 29th (Sunday) – The Changing William Bog Wetlands & Human Impacts video production and iNaturalist

June 4th (5th ) Slate River Valley birds, possibly a visit to the Experimental Farm

June 18 (19th ) – Saturday or Sunday depending on weather - all day trip to Greenwood Lake Conservation Reserve Old Growth Pine – in rental vehicles, car travel jointly with parents and TBFN members. Once on site, NEWTs would do their own hike and nature observations with leaders. Parents to go with TBFN leaders. Estimated cost $25 per adult, $15 per youth under 25.

July 16th (17th) changing William Bog wetlands video, iNaturalist

August 20th (21st ) Pictured Lake – photo trap collection, iNaturalist

September 17th  (18th ) – changing William Bog wetland video, iNaturalist


Dr. Ladislav (Lada) Malek, initiated the project after retiring as LU Biology professor and joining the TBFN club.

Ms. Courtney Mondoux, MSc. TBFN club youth programming coordinator

Mr. Gene Kent, MSc. Retired geologist and former coordinator of youth programming with Lakehead Region Conservation Authority and TBFN club Outreach coordinator.

Dr. Michael Rennie, LU Biology Professor in Aquatic Biology and coordinator of the affiliated Let's Talk Science program.


Mr. Myles Cummins (BSc Biology and Assistant Curator of the LKHD Herbarium), Ashley Levins,(Geology LU) Jessie McFadden (MSc, Biology and LRCA).


If interested in participating, contact us through the herbarium contacts page above, or through TBFN: https://tbfn.net/walks-talks/youth-programs/