Education officers from national parks and organizations across the Dutch Caribbean and The Netherlands and junior rangers planned future education efforts during a workshop held July 29-31 at the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) headquarters on Bonaire. The group came together to find ways to give children a better knowledge and understanding of nature, and the passion and skills to actively participate in conservation. “The benefit of getting together with not only the islands of the Dutch Caribbean but partners of The Netherlands is that we get to share materials, develop ideas, and have the use of more resources,” said Saba Conservation Foundation education officer Sue Hurrell. “We’re beginning to realize (conservation) is not just a local problem, but a global problem. That’s the importance of education.” Information, experiences and ideas flowed as the group reviewed materials and best practices, as well as progress on their education goals since 2010, when the first workshop of this kind took place.
The group is collaborating to produce teaching materials that can be used in after-school programming as well as in classrooms, and is working to create a uniform education programme spanning ages 8 to 18, called Wild4Life. As part of that programme, five junior rangers, including one from National Park Weerribben-Wieden in The Netherlands, presented their culminating projects and demonstrated how to map tree locations using smart phones. Workshop participants are to develop a common vision of nature education and further cooperation among the islands and The Netherlands about ways to build understanding and support for nature conservation efforts.
In the future, national parks may share a junior ranger programme that culminates in older teens earning junior ranger designation. Younger children might receive “passports” to be stamped as they participate in various parks’ activities, both terrestrial and marine. The planning also pointed out the islands’ common need for fulltime education officers to work in the parks to develop youth programming. “It’s very good for the islands to work together,” said Stinapa Bonaire education coordinator Desiree Croes. “All the islands are a little bit different, and every meeting is a way to communicate and learn from each other. It makes us stronger.”
Source: “The Daily Herald” 2012-08-04 (28)