Education centre > Public Education Programmes
Public Education Programmes
Whilst adults and families make up the largest proportion of visitors to botanic gardens, botanic garden educators often concentrate their efforts on programmes for school children. However, this approach is limited because we have to sit back and wait for future decision makers to ‘grow up’. By focusing instead on adult education, your work can be more effective because your audience has the power to make a difference immediately.
The challenge for botanic gardens is to provide a diversity of adult and public education programmes that appeal to a broad audience. This can assist botanic gardens, not just in a financial capacity but also in fulfilling their mission to promote sustainability within the community. The articles included address several aspects of public and adult education and illustrate the diversity of choices available and utilised by botanic gardens.
(Adapted from editorial, Roots 18, Lucy Sutherland)
The majority of people visit botanic gardens for reasons other than learning. Nevertheless, when they are relaxed and enjoying themselves they are most likely to be receptive to overt or subtle messages which may change attitudes and influence behaviours. In this way they gain something from the experience of visiting a botanic garden which can be regarded as educational and relevant to the important issue of sustainability.
Etnobotanica y Educacion en el Jardin Botanico Regional-Cicy
Teaching biodiversity using a story-based approach is a vital component of the Education Programme at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden. The garden staff have found this a very effective way to illustrate to visitors how biodiversity is an essential part of our everyday lives. Now the staff are seeking to establish partnerships with botanic gardens around the world with the aim of sharing plant stories and producing a publication that ensures the oral and aural tradition will not be lost. Some of the stories that the garden currently tell are about plants such as Melaleuca alternifolia, Theobroma cacoa and Echinacea purpurea.
Limbe Botanic Garden (Cameroon) aims to develop an international centre for research, education, training and recreation to support biodiversity conservation, with particular reference to Mount Cameroon. To accomplish this, the Gardens have developed education programmes for a wide range of audiences, including schoolchildren, community members and tourists.
Aburi Botanic Garden in Ghana is often the host venue for days of traditional festival celebrations. Festivals in Ghana are often associated with the history of a particular group or area. Odwira, for example, is an annual traditional festival of some Akan people, and some of the people of the Akuapen traditional areas.
The role of Limbe Botanic Garden, Cameroon, has shifted in recent times from agricultural research and training to conservation, science, recreation and education. The Limbe area is faced with limits on available land, with restrictions placed on the community by the plantations and now the reserves. Farmers must be aware of and use intensive production techniques. Limbe has developed several outreach schemes to demonstrate these techniques to the community.
The Nanjing Botanic Garden began its education programme in the late 1970s. Since then the programme has undergone considerable development and in particular with the establishment of a Scientific Group in 1983 whose aim is to make science more accessible to the general public.
The Utrecht University Botanic Gardens held a competition to find the design for a new education garden at Fort Hoofddijk. The winning design was called `Windgong`. In its design it incorporated several adaptations for disabled visitors. These included raised beds and large-scale models of flowers and stems accompanied by short texts, in braille and large script.
Education for Sustainable Development – Guidelines for Action in Botanic Gardens
BGCI has published Guidelines on Education for Sustainable Development. Suitable for those working in botanic gardens and other site-based education centres, it features tips and case studies from botanic gardens around the world. The Guidelines are freely available to all in PDF and printed format.
Netherlands - Utrecht
Cameroon - Fako Division, South West Province - Limbe
United Kingdom - Oxford
Ghana - Aburi
China - Jiangsu - Nanjing
International Diploma in Botanic Garden Education
BGCI and RBG Kew offer an international diploma course in education for botanic garden staff. Participants will learn education skills and strategies to get their message across effectively to varied audiences. The emphasis is on interactive learning.
Setting Up and Running a School Garden
This publication, available in full online or in print from the FAO, is based on the idea that childhood habits die hard. The manual is to assist teachers, parents and communities, drawing on classroom experiences from across the world. The guide explains how to run and set up a garden in a school.