Environmental education isn’t always easy. With a multitude of abstract and complex concepts within the field, it can be challenging to get across a message that is informative, inspirational, and empowering. 

Here at Greenpop, we have spent the last 5 years refining and adapting the way we educate people about the environment and their role in it. One of the programs we are most proud of is our school eco-education workshop which we run in Cape Town and Livingstone. This interactive educational program is designed to take primary school students out of the classroom, connect with peers and the environment.  Learners between the ages of 11 and 14 break into small groups, exploring different topics through a rotation of three stations: seed-growing, waste management, and tree planting. Through games, discussion and activations they learn the importance of protecting the environment, as well as useful skills that can uplift themselves and their communities.

To find out more, Charlotte Von Frischen sat down with Matthew Koehorst of Six Kingdoms who designed this program.

Charlotte: How do you make content accessible and relevant?

Matthew: We often use metaphors to make the content relatable, familiar, and easy to remember. For example, the facilitators compare tree-planting to looking after a baby. A baby needs water, care, nourishment, and a blanket (mulch, in the case of trees). It’s fun and easy to remember the steps involved. We also think about how education can inform the day to day realities of local communities, for example, creative ways to deal with waste management — using the resources that are available. For the self-watering seed germinator, we upcycle a plastic soft-drink bottle and use indigenous seeds of well-known local trees.

Charlotte: What are the core tenets of the program?

Matthew: They are four-fold: Getting active for your environment; learning through fun; being resourceful with what you have;  connecting people from different backgrounds with a common purpose. 

Charlotte: You mentioned the interactive style of the program. How do the learners become active participants?

Matthew: Learners respond in a different way based on their learning styles and habits. Some are shy and don’t answer questions but they still show tons of enthusiasm when it comes to watering a tree, adding mulch, or stuffing an eco-brick with litter found around the school.  Every station is hands-on and interactive and practical. They enjoy having a different educational experience to the rote learning experience inside the classroom.

For more education and inspiration, follow Six Kingdoms.

Photography by Lee-Ann Olwage

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