I’ve often thought that all you really need to start off on the journey of becoming an environmentalist is simply your curiosity.
You could probably take a whole swag of accessories too, but if you simply stepped outside into your very neighbourhood, and took some curious mates with you for a stroll – then you’ve just signed up for How to be an Environmentalist 101.
Or – you could sign your whole class up to Kids Teaching Kids, and be really inspired to become a future environmental leader.
It’s been my great delight in recent years to work with the team at Pt Nepean National Park as they host the annual Kids Teaching Kids mini-conference for local students.
Schools across the Mornington Peninsula are now being invited to take part in this innovative environmental youth leadership program on the 8th September 2016, and registrations have just opened.
It’s a simple concept, but its leaves a powerful mark on young minds – student teams host workshops for their peers with humour, energy, creativity and some pretty impressive presentations as they inspire one another to consider the big picture and the local connection.
I’ve wrangled media and photographers at quite a few Kids Teaching Kids events now and every year I want to be a 12 year old again – on the cusp of something great, ready to tell the world what it needs to do, offering up my views on why we need the environment, and why the environment needs us to champion on its behalf. It’s pretty motivating being around the energy and empathy of the Grade 5’s – Years 9’s who bound into Kids Teaching Kids with enthusiasm every year.
Unexpected learning moments, jostling elbows with other kids, being identified as a leader for the day, being treated as someone with an opinion that adults want to hear from, experiencing the excitement of a real conference – it all opens up awareness and self-esteem. They walk taller, wiser and greener and when they leave.
It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the wonder and humility” – Rachel Carson
Kids Teaching Kids is now in it’s 18th year – it’s a national collaborative program that helps Aussie youth put the environment and its challenges under the microscope, and feel empowered to make meaningful contributions to issues and concerns facing us locally, and nationally. Over 55, 000 students take part nationally.
At Pt Nepean National Park, primary and high schools from across the Mornington Peninsula schools gather at the Quarantine Station to explore solutions for global challenges. Kids create workshop bases in the historic buildings of the Quarantine Station and go to town discovering, presenting, exploring and observing the environment alongside their peers.
Over the years at Kids Teaching Kids I’ve watched nature artworks evolve, studied paper mache moulds, wrapped my arms and measuring tapes around tall trees, nailed Hooded Plover nesting boxes, held native critters in my hand, wandered through timelines and listened to statistics that made my brain pop.
Kids Teaching Kids inspires grown ups too and organisers are currently also calling for volunteer mentors who may be interested in mentoring a local school on a particular environmental topic and can offer environmental expertise.
Last years Friends of the Hooded Plover volunteers stepped in as mentors to a school group and found the program connected them with a more youthful base of supporters, really helped them in sharing the plight of the Hooded Plover and provided them with a dynamic set of opportunities to work with families. The students they mentored were so inspired by their mentors, they went on to raise $3, 000 to purchase iPads to monitor the Hooded Plover live breeding program. That in itself was a game changer – a great way to connect the dots as a community across the generations.
Quite simply Kids Teaching Kids fills their heads with what if’s, their hearts with what can be and their lungs with outdoor fun! If you’re a teacher, an educator, a Principal or someone with some free time to volunteer and mentor the students in schools, then the Kids Teaching Kids program would love to hear from you.
Register today at http://www.kidsteachingkids.com.au/get-involved/
You could be starting a young environmentalist off on a life long passion to make a difference.