Exciting Environmental Education Exchange
2013 was already the 3rd Autumn in which BRC organized an "Environmental Education Exchange" for students from Georgia, Armenia and Turkey. The exchange is supported by the Acopian Center for the Environment (AUA, Yerevan) and the Educational Development Center of Batumi (EDC, USAID). Participants join us for 10 days to learn about raptors, their migration and the conservation work of BRC, but most importantly to train their skills in environmental education work!
The main challenge during the exchange is for participants to develop their own lesson about birds or nature for high school children from the Batumi area. That sounds easy enough at first, but as our participants quickly find out, it is quite the challenge to give an exciting class in front of very young, curious school students….who can ask any unexpected questions at any time. Even our camp coordinator had to do some research when one pupil from a Batumi school asked “Why is the down of Sparrowhawk nestlings white?”.
So ... how did we get there? This autumn we had a diverse group with 5 students from Georgia, 4 people from Armenia and a single Turkish participant. The exchange started with introductory lectures about raptors, migration and conservation. To test their knowledge in the field, students visited the BRC watch-sites and held field trips in the surrounding area.
In the second phase of the camp our participants got to put their skills to work by developing some lessons in small teams. The guys split up in three teams, each presented their own idea about what they wanted to teach at local schools and got to work on preparing their lessons. A first team made a lesson about the wetlands in Kolkheti National Park and, in particular, about the importance of the Chorokhi delta for migrating birds.
Our second team took to the schools with a lesson on biodiversity and raptors as top predators. And finally, our third team prepared a nice presentation about the life cycle of the Eurasian Sparrowhawk: the most popular raptor species in Batumi.
With these lessons we visited 9 classes in 4 schools of which the youngest kids were in 4th grade and the eldest in 8th grade. One additional special lesson for high school students of hosted by EDC.
Next to preparing and conducting their lessons for school groups our participants also developed a plan around environmental education for Chorokhi delta. Two very nice concepts were develop and the teams are still working on these at home and hope to be able to realize their concept with BRC in coming years.
Needless to say also this exchange did not go by without the necessary cultural evenings, a nocturnal swim in the Black Sea and a fantastic introduction to traditional Georgian songs and hospitality.
We thank all the participants for making this exchange so successful as they did!