World Environmental Education Day 2021

Kirwan Strydom
26 January 2021

As we celebrate World Environmental Education Day, NVT reflected on the immense privilege it has been to be immersed in the Environmental Education (EE) domain.

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The Nature’s Valley Trust (NVT) has developed an EE and Community Outreach programme, consisting of outdoor classrooms, associated curriculum-linked resources and a wealth of expertise backed by an informed, supportive, mobilised, and multi-skilled community. Over the course of its existence, the programme has expanded and tailored national and international EE programmes, projects, and activities to respond to the social-ecological changes in the context of Nature’s Valley (NV) and its surrounding communities.

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Annually more than 3000 learners participate in NVT’s well-structured, schools-based EE programme. Learners from various schools and communities, affluent and previously disadvantaged, have benefited from our EE programme. Through our Community Outreach programme, we were able to provide training, skills development, and mentorship from the individual level to businesses and even governmental departments.

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Over the past 7 years NVT has hosted 90 local and international university students, who joined NVT for practical training in conservation education and research. By providing practical work experience to students, NVT has participated in the process of forging a new generation of young conservationists.

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NVT engages with neighbouring communities, reaching over 7500 community members, across the Garden Route each year. We support the development of community initiatives to promote home-based food production and security, (The Tsitsi-Tuiniers Gardening Club), income generation from tourism, (The Covie Hiking Trail), the sustainable use of resources (The Covie Fishing Club) and through clean-ups, tree planting, greening, waste management initiatives and other community-based programmes the health and wellbeing of the community is enhanced.

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“An environmentally literate person is someone who, both individually and together with others, makes informed decisions concerning the environment; is willing to act on these decisions to improve the well-being of other individuals, society, and the global environment; and participates in civic life” – (NAAEE, 2013, p.6).

Due to the Covid pandemic, compelling us to rethink traditional schooling, we are at the beginning of a new era in education. The traditional classroom scenario is slowly being evolved to digital platforms and distance learning. While some Environmental Education lessons will be done inside and on various social platforms, the best practice is still to get out and enjoy nature.

It is important to be reminded of the value of environmental education for the future generations.

Here are 5 reasons EE is still relevant and important:

  1. Awareness: to address any issues, there first needs to be awareness.
  2. Raises awareness about environmental concerns: understanding the environment and how it functions allows us to predict and respond to possible environmental issues, appropriately.
  3. Sustainability: Environmental education helps us understand the repercussions of over-exploitation, and how to lessen our impact.
  4. Health Benefits: Both our physical and mental health are affected negatively when we are dissociated with nature. Our general well-being can instead flourish when more time is spent in natural surroundings.
  5. Artistic Imagination: Nature inspires all. 

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