Education and Outreach
Environmental Education has a critical role to play in broadening people’s understanding of some of the complicated issues we face and encouraging our engagement and participation in the decision making processes.
We know that it is important that environmental education reaches everyone: children, parents, tourists, businesses, governments, everybody.
To date the standard of environmental education projects in the UK Overseas Territories has been extremely high. The UK Overseas Territories represent a unique resource for environmental education through their exceptional environmental and cultural heritage. Montserrat’s volcanic eruption is used as a case-study in several secondary school teaching modules, but without much emphasis on Montserrat being a UK Overseas Territory or its citizens being British citizens.
In addition, small islands have the potential to act as models for sustainability for a much wider regional and global audience. Environmental education in the UK Overseas Territories is key to establishing a positive legacy for the environment within territory but is also critical in raising awareness of the importance of the UK Overseas Territories in the UK and elsewhere.
Environment Education has been the subject of several sessions at our conferences, which have celebrated the achievements of the UKOTs.
We have also undertaken a series of projects with local partners.
Environmental education curriculum development concerning water resources in the Turks and Caicos Islands
This project developed a curriculum-linked teaching programme on natural freshwater systems, the increasing need for the scarce water resource, and how these needs can be met in TCI. As well as describing the hydrological systems which enable fresh water to be accessed through artesian wells, it also provides information on rainwater collection and storage. It provides information on the desalination process, the energy requirements for this and the ecological effects of the process, as well as the wildlife. It deals also with wise use of water, and water-saving measures.
The Natural History of Tristan da Cunha
This project saw the publication of a 44-page photographically illustrated book, by Paul Tyler and Alison Rothwell, produced by UKOTCF to make the scientific results of a Darwin Initiative project on biodiversity conservation in Tristan available for use by the island’s school. However, it has also been used for a wider readership.
Bermuda National Trust education resources
This project saw the development of educational material following best practice as discussed at the Jersey conference. They are available to review online: https://www.bnt.bm/education/schools-and-teachers.
Several initiatives began as a result of discussions at our Jersey conference in 2006, including an environment education section on our website. The relevant section on our database aims to hold information on education projects. Students in Jersey wanted to learn more about the UKOTs and other Crown Dependencies, but information, as an overview was not widely available. They suggested something should be created to fill this gap.
The virtual tours or ‘VTs’ are an attempt to address lack of information online. They have been an important part of our work as they give us a means to highlight the biodiversity of the UKOTs and the need to protect and conserve them. They all follow the same basic format containing information on the UKOTs, features of natural interest, features of other interest, including cultural, threats / problems / issues, projects / conservation actions, opportunities, organisations and links together with maps and images.
Without project funding they have largely been completed using vast amounts of volunteer time. They will be completed as time allows.
We have undertaken several other funded projects in collaboration with educators in the UKOTs in partnership with our Honorary Environmental Education Coordinator with an educational element.
Wise Water Project, Turks and Caicos Islands
This project work was developed with the Turks and Caicos Department of Education which aimed to address the lack of teaching materials available which included local examples. This is because many of the textbooks available had examples of British and Jamaican habitats, which would have less meaning for the children in the TCI.Working with the Department of Education and local teachers, this project developed a curriculum-linked teaching programme on wetlands and water systems.
The teaching materials produced comprised:
- An introduction to wetland ecosystems in TCI
- Mangrove ecosystems and their importance
- Adaptations of mangrove species
- Feeding relationships in a mangrove ecosystem
- Threats to mangrove ecosystems
- Climate change and mangroves
- Caring for mangroves
- Classification of organisms in a mangrove ecosystem.
- Water sources in TCI
Our Land, Our Sea, Our People
This environmental curriculum for primary students was first developed with the Turks and Caicos National Trust as a result of a meeting between Ann Pienkowski and the TCI Education Department, in the late 1990s, at the request of the Director of the TC National Trust.
Later, as part of a TC National Trust project funded by the TCI Conservation Fund, Ann Pienkowski was requested by the Director of the TC National Trust to update and make available electronically some of the “Our Land, Our Seas, Our People” material. This was done voluntarily, and these modules will be made available on . This work was done voluntarily, as the TC National Trust was suffering considerable financial difficulties at that time.
The module on Birds in the Turks and Caicos Islands was developed combining our team’s expertise in education and scientific research. It was produced in electronic format and will be available to download shortly. Units in the module include: an introduction to bird biology and ecology, food webs, ecosystems, English and Maths activities, games activities, arts and music activities, bird identification and photo-resources.
High School conference delegates in Jersey and Cayman
During our , a group of local students took part, which was replicated in . They gained their sponsored places by demonstrating an interest in, and commitment to, environmental issues. They have already impressed us with their enthusiasm, and their eagerness to learn. (In addition to participating in the conference sessions, in the closing session the student team jointly produced a short presentation of their impression, and also supplied some notes. Some of their impressions of the conference are included at the end of this Topic section.)
One student attended both Jersey and, for mentoring, in Cayman – and has since founded his own ecology consultant company and now carries out contract work in support of the National Trust for Jersey and others to improve the land so as to encourage local wildlife and visitors e.g. the Grouville marshes. Sangan Conservation Ltd specializes in ecological surveys, conservation land management, conservation research and environmental education.
Students at the Jersey conference remarked:
If I am to sum up the conference in one word it would be: ‘FANTASTIC’. This conference has opened my eyes to all of the problems faced in developing a strategy to conserve our environment. I do think that it was a brilliant idea to get students involved and I hope you will allow students to attend your next conference.
Overall I had a really interesting and stimulating time on the conference; meeting and chatting with people from places across the globe, who knew so much about the conservation issues that their islands face was an amazing opportunity.
When working in UKOTs, we often participate in radio and newspapers interviews. This is important as it gives us an opportunity to celebrate local achievements and enables us to engage with local communities. Over time, this has been supplemented by the rise in social media platforms, which can be a more immediate way of sharing information and particularly when engaging with young people.
See our media page or Youtube for videos we have produced.