Making Trax to inspire young people
Danny Catt is afraid kids are losing their connection to nature because of computers.
So he’s using technology to bring nature to them.
His efforts to tell Canadian young people about Canada and other parts of the world near and far where he’s travelled have earned the BCIT instructor recognition as a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. That puts him in the elite company of the likes of Robert Bateman, Margaret Atwood, Dan Akroyd and Farley Mowat—people who’ve helped expand Canadians’ understanding of their own country, the world around them and vice-versa.
Catt’s passion for his environs started on annual camping trips with his dad and five brothers. Every summer they headed to a new part of B.C., while his mom and sister enjoyed some tranquility at home in Kitsilano.
Catt loved being amidst the trees, paddling across a lake, hiking up a mountain trail, a speck in the vast landscape. He saw bears, moose, elk. After a visit to Manning Park, he thought being a park interpreter, telling visitors about the sights, sounds and surroundings of nature, would be the coolest job in the world. So much so, summer gigs with Parks Canada in Kootenay National Park paid his way through two degrees at Simon Fraser University and another in Fish, Wildlife and Recreation at BCIT.
When he parlayed his education into an instructor’s position at BCIT he seized the chance to glean lessons from other parts of the world that Canadian young people could apply to their own rivers, lakes and forests while promoting the natural beauty of Canada to hosts in Asia, Africa, South America even the Antarctic.
He did this by creating Catt Trax, a website that chronicles his adventures through blog postings, photo galleries, and maps. His website has evolved to include live two-way discussions, interactive presentations, video and music.
He’s given online lectures from the Amazon basin and the Galapagos Islands to students in elementary and high schools as well as the E-Bus Academy.
When he returns from his journeys, which he takes every five years while on sabbatical from BCIT, he visits students in their classrooms with the Scientists in the Schools program, telling them of the lessons that can be learned from other countries about conservation and sustainability.
“I love to share my learning,” says Catt, 50. “If people are inspired about the place they live, they’re more likely to take care of it.”
It’s a labour of love Catt hopes will resonate for years.
“We really take things for granted,” says Catt. “We have to think beyond current generations.”
• The archive of the latest Catt Trax, this past summer to Southeast Asia and Indonesia, can be found at catttrax3.blogspot.ca.