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Celebrating Environment Explorers!

With the world's many environmental challenges, we need youth to actively participate in finding solutions. Not when they become adults- their time is now! The same is true in IGCP's operational area, where a growing human population is sharing the region with the critically-endangered mountain gorilla.

For the past three years, we have been working with our partner the Rwanda Development Board to invigorate the environment clubs in schools around Volcanoes National Park, thanks to a grant from the Annenberg Foundation through our coalition member the African Wildlife Foundation. On September 14th, we wrapped up this project by celebrating the top performing environment club members and by sponsoring a competition among the participating schools. Top students from the eight participating schools (two from each District surrounding the park) were judged on their completion of the Environment Club Explorer workbook over the last school break. Out of 1,300 students who received the booklet and packet of coloured pencils last June, 16 students competed for the top spots- a boy and a girl from each of the participating schools.

Representatives from Akimitoni, Busogo, Butete, Kabara, Kabatwa, Kampanga, Kidaho and Rushubi schools. The 16 competing students (two from each school) are wearing IGCP caps.

Representatives from Akimitoni, Busogo, Butete, Kabara, Kabatwa, Kampanga, Kidaho and Rushubi schools. The 16 competing students (two from each school) are wearing IGCP caps.

While the outstanding Chelloh Band, including Celse Gabinema, entertained the students, the judges were hard at work to give each completed booklet a score.

The great Chelloh band takes the stage.

The great Chelloh band takes the stage.

The judges hard at work assessing the Explorer booklets. From left- myself; Dr. Augustin Basabose, Interim Director of IGCP; and Oreste Ndayisaba, Community Conservation Warden with Volcanoes National Park. 

The judges hard at work assessing the Explorer booklets. From left- myself; Dr. Augustin Basabose, Interim Director of IGCP; and Oreste Ndayisaba, Community Conservation Warden with Volcanoes National Park.

And the top Environment Explorer was:

Jeanne Uwamahoro from Kabatwa school! Congratulations, Jeanne. Tied for second were ThÈophile Bizimana from Kidaho School and Penina Mpabwanimana from Kampanga School.

Jeanne Uwamahoro from Kabatwa school! Congratulations, Jeanne. Tied for second were ThÈophile Bizimana from Kidaho School and Penina Mpabwanimana from Kampanga School.

 Here's a spread from ThÈophile's Explorer...

A spread from a completed Explorer booklet. In these pages, ThÈophile identified the types of trees growing near his school.

A spread from a completed Explorer booklet. In these pages, ThÈophile identified the types of trees growing near his school.

Then the top performing schools were each given a football (or soccer ball) for their clubs.

The headmaster from Kampanga school celebrating that his school was among the top three performing schools. I get ready to hand out another football to the headmaster from Kidaho.

The headmaster from Kampanga school celebrating that his school was among the top three performing schools. I get ready to hand out another football to the headmaster from Kidaho.

Nice that the footballs included this message!

soccer

It has been so gratifying to have been involved with this project along with Benjamin and Wellard from IGCP and all the students and headmasters at the participating schools. Each personís input can be felt on every page of the booklet and a sense of achievement in doing this together can be seen in every excited face of these future young conservationists. Here are some photos from the process of engaging these students:

IGCP's Benjamin Mugabukomeye (right) discusses with members of Butete's environment club what should be included in the Environment Club Explorer booklet last March.

IGCP's Benjamin Mugabukomeye (right) discusses with members of Butete\'s environment club what should be included in the Environment Club Explorer booklet last March.

The rough prototype tested by clubs last March. The students and teachers came up with so many good ideas that were incorporated into the final Environment Club Explorer.

The rough prototype tested by clubs last March. The students and teachers came up with so many good ideas that were incorporated into the final Environment Club Explorer.

Benjamin explains the final Explorer to the students at Kabatwa in early June. While the Explorer was produced in English, at the request of the schools, it was thoroughly described to the students at each school by Benjamin in Kinyarwanda.

Benjamin explains the final Explorer to the students at Kabatwa in early June. While the Explorer was produced in English, at the request of the schools, it was thoroughly described to the students at each school by Benjamin in Kinyarwanda.

Each student registered in the Environment Club received a booklet. And each club received resource materials. In the end, the colored pencils were so popular, we scrounged up some funds to distribute a pack of coloured pencils to each student along with their booklet.

Each student registered in the Environment Club received a booklet. And each club received resource materials. In the end, the colored pencils were so popular, we found some funds to distribute a pack of coloured pencils to each student along with their booklet.

 

Each club also got some posters to promote their club, and the Environment Club Explorer competition within their schools.

Each club also got some posters to promote their club, and the Environment Club Explorer competition within their schools.

200 students from Kidaho alone, received the booklet, with a completion rate at over 90%!

200 students from Kidaho alone, received the booklet, with a completion rate at over 90%!

See photos from this entire project - from gorilla visits, to supported environment club activities, to much more about the Explorer competition via IGCP's Flickr set.


Anna
About the Author

Anna serves as Communications Officer for IGCP. Originally from Iowa in the United States, she now calls the hills and volcanoes of the Greater Virunga region home. She is a conservationist at heart and by profession, and is thrilled to report on the amazing work of IGCP and partner organizations in the conservation of mountain gorillas.

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