World Environmental Education Day 2019

Jackson Werts
28 January 2019

In a world that caters to the needs of a constantly growing population, the environment rarely comes first; every day more urban areas arise, and more rural areas are developed. Environmental Education day is there to bring people’s attention to the environment. In reality, the importance of most holidays is dampened by the weight of capitalistic culture, but they can still have an impact if taken for what they actually are.

The way in which a holiday can have an impact is if people actually listen to its message. What is the message of National Environmental Education Day? Well… The message is literally to educate yourself and others on the environment. I believe that many people don’t know the state of the local and global environment, and from ignorance breeds inactivity. Education is the key to change and this is especially true in developing nations. In many countries, like South Africa, many people are not aware that their actions and lifestyles influence the environment, badly. By teaching people, especially kids, about their environment, you can spark an interest and a passion in them for it. And just by having a little interest in the environment will increase your awareness of the natural world, how it functions and our role. This awareness can be the cause of recycling, not littering, or even not poaching, now that's a good enough reason for me to support environmental education.

I know that education works, and I can give a real-life example of some amazing kids I spent time with in South Africa. Part of my internship in Limpopo involved teaching a class of kids, around 10-12 years old, about conservation and the environment. When I first arrived, a test was given based on personal opinion. We gave examples of things like “poaching to feed your family”, or “cutting down lots of trees for firewood”, and they would mark these statements as being good or bad. The first results of the test showed that many of them thought a lot of environmentally unfriendly practices were normal and good. My peers and I then proceeded to teach and interact with these kids every 2 weeks for three months. In the end, I had developed friendships with many of the kids and been able to teach them all about conservation. On the last day, we gave the kids the same test we had given them in the beginning. The results were exceptionally better than those of the first test. The kids knew so much more about the environment around them, and for the most part, they understood which practices were sustainable and which ones weren’t.

Teaching those kids made me realized how important environmental education really is. January 26th was World Environmental Education Day - I encourage you, to take a little time to research your local environment and learn something new, every day. Maybe it will spark a little interest in you, and who knows, could change your life for the better. It is ultimately up to people, just like you, to determine the direction in which our world goes. All I know is that change is needed if we want any remnants left of the natural environment for future generations.

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