Location:St. Ignatius Village, Region 9
Contributed by: Katie Bertness
Counterpart: Julie Lewis
Ms. Bertness taught inquiry-based science at the primary school as part of my position as a “Community Conservation Promoter” in the village of St. Ignatius Village (just south of Lethem). Ms. Bertness’ alternate responsibility was to develop a wildlife club that focuses on building good environmental stewards to protect and preserve the natural resources of the Rupununi, foster an interest in and appreciation for STEM careers and opportunities, and develop leadership and interpersonal skills amongst youth in my community.
Ms. Bertness began holding meetings with her wildlife club, boasting membership by 100 pupils thus far. In the club, pupils participate in games/crafts/activities/hikes/projects that focus on developing life skills and an appreciation for local wildlife.
Every Saturday, Ms. Bertness and her counterparts take students on adventures around the village to observe birds with binoculars. To continue building on skills developed in the club, Ms. Bertness hosted the Hinterland Wildlife Camp following the conclusion of the school term. This camp focused on bird observation as birds serve as important indicators of environmental health and are easy to study and monitor. Birding also allows children to practice the use of scientific equipment, respect for wildlife and nature during observation, as well as discipline, patience, and leadership.
The camp was a half-day program between 8:00 am and 12:00 pm from Monday, July 8th to Friday, July 12th. In the morning, participating pupils (a maximum of 50) gathered and walked together to a different part of the village to identify, count, and observe behavior and habitat of the birds in that area. Throughout the week, pupils compiled their findings to learn about bird habitat, health, impact on humans, and diversity. Pupils participated in games and complete activities and crafts that focus on building leadership, teamwork, conservation, wildlife knowledge, and learning skills.
The camp provided pupils with a fun and structured outlet to learn valuable life skills as well as discover and explore the world around them. Aside from the FROG grant, the village donated transportation for pupils towards a field trip to Kumu Falls. This project was a true community effort to make the camp possible.