2 Dec 2014

New toolkit engages young people in conservation and education

Field trips open up the natural world to young people (Photo: Martha N. Mutiso)
By Obaka Torto

Environmental education and conservation for young people is one of the main goals of the WildLife Clubs of Africa (WCA) project. In order to achieve this vision an Education Toolkit for Site Support Groups (SSGs) has been developed, to engage young people in the conservation issues of their communities and habitats. Titled “Engaging Young People in Education and Conservation”, the Toolkit offers activities, ideas, games and discussions about the natural world with a focus on three key habitats; wetlands, grasslands and forests.

The WCA project uses bird conservation to help bridge the digital divide in Africa, aiming to link up almost 400,000 African children and members of African wildlife clubs, with each other and the rest of the world, developing a regional electronic network and a manual to promote environmental education across Africa. This contributes to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals; Number 7 (To ensure environmental sustainability) and Number 2 (To achieve universal primary education by 2015). By integrating conservation and sustainable use into education programmes’ they provide (formal and informal) education opportunities which particularly target communities that are poor and overly dependent on natural resources. The specific objectives are to link African children to the global conservation community – for the benefit of nature and people.

This new Education toolkit uses active learning, involving field visits to see nature first hand as well as indoor and outdoor games to pass on conservation messages.  Learning is also achieved through story gathering and writing, nature photography of creatures and places, and drama featuring local nature and culture. Some of the habitat activities include; field trips to the local wetlands and beaches, exploring grasslands and mangrove forests, making plant scrapbooks, growing seeds, understanding animal groups and food chains, and even building bird baths and bee hotels.

Greening and environmental projects at schools continue to be major projects that the wildlife clubs undertake to create awareness. These projects include planting trees and establishing nurseries that will provide the school’s surrounding community with tree seedlings. The types of nurseries include herbal gardens, nutritional gardens and woodlots amongst others. Other activities include making the compounds bird friendly by building bird feeders and baths, and also poultry and mushroom production projects. In most cases the wildlife club members undertake the projects themselves with guidance from their teachers. The clubs also involve others who are active in the community. These include, teachers, other CBOs, the private sector, universities, local administration, the media and other conservation agencies. Furthermore, the clubs actively participate in the celebration of environmental events such as World Environment day and World Migratory Bird Day.

The production of this toolkit was made possible through financial support provided by the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) and AAGE Jensen Charity Foundation.

Download the Education Toolkit

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Story by Obaka Torto