Rob and Lillian are wildlife Folksong-artists who meld their passion for the environment with songwriting and puppetry. They have a unique gift which enables students to craft collaborative songs while also learning the wonders of nature. With their own love for the outdoors and educational backgrounds, the duo gratefully passes along what they know in countless schools, in National and Provincial Parks and with many other groups throughout western Canada through workshops and presentations. Their broad research of Canadian wildlife couples with their songwriting abilities to provide unusual and uplifting connecting-points for students and teachers to learn and deepen their understanding of the biodiversity surrounding us. They bring natural props, recordings of animal vocalizations and realistic-looking puppets to familiarize students with different wildlife and ecosystems. They have overseen songwriting ventures including "Bats in BC", "The Recycling Blues" and "Protectors of the Planet", all derived from class concerns about the environment. The duo upholds the emotional intelligence of creativity and encourages its expression from a young age. They invite children of all ages to use their different senses and abilities through word, song and other artistic means. By encouraging connection, protection and respect, and also explaining that even the tiniest creature has its marvel and its place, students rekindle their innate wonder of nature and often become more curious and compassionate. Lillian and Rob pass on what they've learned from their Indigenous sisters and brothers and have become stronger stewards of land, air and water themselves.
I am the Vice Principal of Curriculum in the Chilliwack School District and had the privilege of working with Lillian and Rob during the 2017/2018 school year. I was impressed with their level of professionalism and enthusiasm. I was part of both school wide and individual class presentations by The Well Worn Trail. Their presentations were highly engaging through the use of song and puppets for both students and teachers in the performance. They incorporated multiple areas of the revised BC curriculum including science, music and language arts to name a few. Lillian and Rob also worked with a Grade 3 class to write a song about bats in connection with a project they were already working on. Their ability to guide a class of students to brainstorm and write an original song about bats was very impressive. It was also clear that they had prepared for this activity by researching bat biology before they came. All students were included in the song writing and singing, they even had instruments made from natural materials for each student to use. After this activity, the students shared their songs with other classes in the school, showing pride for what they had learned and created. Justin Moore, Vice Principal of Curriculum
Over the last three years I have had the pleasure of observing Rob and Lillian perform at multiple schools throughout the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District where I work as an Aboriginal Support Worker. Their performances are geared toward students at the elementary level but their message of connection to nature, land and place are enjoyed by all ages. I have watched their performances numerous times and I always learn something new about the wonder of animals and the natural world around us. They use puppets and original songs to teach the audience in a fun and entertaining way. The teachers are always amazed at how engaged and entertained the children are and students leave humming a new tune or excited about learning new facts about their favorite (or new favorite) animal. I have always had positive feedback from the staff and students and one primary teacher said Rob and Lillian were the best and most relevant school performers she had seen. Leah Jackson, Aboriginal Support Worker, SD42
I have had the privilege of seeing The Well Worn Trail perform in two separate Elementary schools with a variety of students. Most recently, they accepted our school's invitation to be part of multi-presentations in a rotation for the first two days of school. Within these rotations, they were seeing 3-4 multi-aged groups per day. These groups had students that ranged from 5-12 years old. It is challenging for any presenter to engage such a wide age and interest range for 45-90 minutes but Lillian and Rob managed to engage all learners with their songs, facts and connections to the community. They were collaborative with the school staff and made connections, providing resources during and after their days of presenting at our school. The feedback from our staff and students was positive and we would love to have them back at our school again. Gillian Campbell, Support Teacher Highland Park Elementary
Lillian and Rob have engaged with students in various songwriting projects over the years. Each project begins with choosing a wildlife theme. It continues with time for reflection, then moves through brainstorming and creative writing, through which a collaborative song is written. Affirming each student's experience is important, so they ensure time is given for each child's contribution. Like a crocus blooming in spring, a song emerges through the words and experiences of each student. The duo also brings their wide selection of realistic-looking puppets to each project for the students to use while preparing their song. As well, they bring unique objects found in nature for rhythm for each student. They go beyond and encourage classes to also find their own materials for any future songs they may wish to create. The eventual outcome is a student-owned collaboration. Rob and Lillian know that many students have limited time outdoors, so they hope that by instilling creative and artistic opportunities with nature, this will form a foundation which students can build on. Students also discover the strength of collaboration as they blend their ideas with their classmates to inspire a single composition. The ripples go beyond!
Today's children experience less time outdoors than previous generations. The natural attraction to the outdoors has been eroded and replaced by the glitz of indoor alternatives. The evidence is abundant that this disconnect with nature causes challenges on many levels. (see Richard Louv - Nature-Deficit Disorder) The purpose of this workshop is based on the fundamental premise that time outside is healthy, or stated differently, "nature is medicine". We hope to help students reconnect with and re-establish their appreciation for the outdoors. They begin by taking a sensory discovery walk near their school simply to connect. Later, they take another walk and collect natural items from nature to eventually create a collage. (e.g. sticks, cones, leaves, feathers, shells, small stones, etc.). These are glued or fastened to a piece of cardboard, fabric, etc. Their works of art may include ideas about what they know about the items and where they were found, e.g. under a tree, etc. These observations develop into writing which can morph into possibilities from simple poetry and spoken word to stories and songs. This incorporation of intentional outdoor experiences with sensory input, art and language reinforces children's innate wonder of nature.
Do you ever wonder what a bird, whale or other animal think? So do students! We all have an innate curiosity and connection to animals. In this workshop, students explore the wonder of nature through the eyes of their favourite animal. After creating their animal of choice through multiple artistic mediums, they also learn to identify and reproduce its voice in nature as well as learn many of its habits. They individually and then collectively create a storyline for their wilderness characters. The students explore the interconnectedness of the different wildlife within their ecosystems. Through curiosity and imagination, children develop a deeper respect and appreciation for each animal. The student's sense of wonder and awe can be recaptured through story-play. Realistic-looking puppets are available for each class by which they can expand their learning.