Rachel Layne

Rachel Layne

Art connects kids with science and environment at Get to Know Unconference

Robert Bateman's vision to teach kids through connection with nature brings youth from across the continent to Kelowna

  • Sep. 24, 2014 12:00 p.m.

Rachel Layne was just 12 years old when her family took a trip to Horsethief Canyon, prompting her to song.

“I looked out over the canyon and there weren’t any horses and I just got this line in my head: ‘Where have all the wild horses gone?'” she said.

The special place among the Drumheller hoodoos was soon immortalized in the lyrics of Wild Horses, although it would take several years, and a locally-created environmental organization, to inspire finishing the work.

Layne is now a youth ambassador for Get to Know, the organization that created the contest for which she completed the lines:

“Shapes like horses dance in the sky, bowing their heads to say goodbye…Where did all the wild horses go?”

She won Get to Know’s annual art contest last year and has subsequently set her sights on helping the organization bring other youth outdoors to learn in and from the environment.

“I think today a lot of kids are really caught up in technology and they don’t know about the environment so much. We want to get kids outside to learn from nature,” she said.

Layne will perform her song and give a talk at the organization’s sixth conference, dubbed the “Unconference,” next month.

An accomplished young singer, who had already performed the national anthem before whole stadiums when she finished writing Wild Horses, Layne’s sweet voice epitomizes what the organization tries to inspire, and she said the environment, and issues like global warming, have always been dear to her heart.

Since being named a winner of the Get to Know contest, she has had a national audience to help put the environment front and centre for peers in her generation. It’s a far better means of communicating a message according to Get to Know founder Mary Krupa-Clark.

“The youth, they don’t want to be talked to; they’ve already got it. They want an opportunity to express their passion for the environment,” said Krupa-Clark, who runs Morning Start Enterprises, an environmentally-focused public relations firm.

Krupa-Clark and famed nature artist Robert Bateman created Get to Know in 1999. Bateman believed kids needed to get to know the names of their neighbours of other species and the pair dreamed up the art competition as a creative way to inspire a more aware citizenry in the generation which will ultimately deal with today’s environmental degradation.

Now spanning the continent, Get to Know sponsors this art competition through local galleries and uses its Unconference as the final showcase; they’ve opted to hold the event here at UBCO from Oct. 3 to 5.

The presentations will be varied. A dance troupe from California is scheduled to present on the ocean, for example, and a 12-year-old girl from Calgary will show a photo essay on urbanization.

The Unconference is free to watch, although organizers are expecting the UBCO theatre to fill. Register to attend.

Three winners will be named at the Mayor’s Enviro-Art Banquet at the Coast Capri Hotel at 4:30 p.m.

Twitter: @jaswrites

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