Memorial fund supports outdoor education for disadvantaged kids

RIDEAU VALLEY, April 24, 2024 – Don Maciver’s two biggest passions were education and conserving the natural world. Now his family is supporting both through an outdoor education fund in his name. 
Don’s wife Jeanine, with support from her family, has committed to covering bus and tuition costs for 600 students over the next five years to improve access to unique outdoor learning experiences at Baxter and Foley Mountain conservation areas for kids facing financial barriers. 

“In the outdoors, kids learn in a different way,” Maciver said. “They are going to touch and feel and see the natural environment for themselves. And they may learn about themselves, what they are capable of and what they can overcome.”

Jeanine’s husband Don worked in planning and regulations at the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) for nearly 40 years, before he passed away in 2017. 

Jeanine said he was a lifelong learner who understood the importance of conserving natural resources for future generations – and making sure the next generation understood and appreciated it, too.

“He would be so unbelievably pleased that his legacy is about conservation and educating children,” Maciver said. “We live in a time, more than ever, where our children and our children’s children have to understand the value of our surroundings, and the need to preserve it." 

"It’s not until you get out there and live it and see the caterpillars and butterflies and frogs up close that you truly understand what’s at stake.” 

The RVCA’s Baxter and Foley Mountain conservation areas welcome more than 7,000 students each year to participate in curriculum-linked outdoor education programs, including insect study, habitat exploration, survival strategies, pond and wetland studies, soil ecology programs, life cycle exploration and more. 

But the cost of bussing and tuition can present a barrier for schools in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Many of these neighbourhoods are also the least likely to have accessible greenspace nearby. 

That’s where support from the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation comes in. 

“Some of these children are visiting a real forest for the first time,” said Foundation Director Diane Downey. “The benefits of being in nature for a child’s physical and mental health are indisputable, and subsidizing the RVCA’s outdoor education programs can make a life-long difference for these children.”

She said long-term support like that of the Maciver family’s is especially appreciated, as the education programs can count on reliable funding. But the Don Maciver Memorial Fund is also open to public donations from anyone interested in supporting the cause.

To make a donation, visit and choose the Don Maciver Memorial Fund. 

Any support is greatly appreciated, said Jeanine. 

“I know Don’s looking down on this and saying thank you,” she said. “The conservation work he had done for 40 years has to continue, and the place for it to continue is with young minds open to learning."

13 2013 MaciverDon and Jeanine Maciver in 2013. Don worked for the RVCA for nearly 40 years. 


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