May was a month of celebrations at plant-based education sites around the globe. Botanic gardens and arboreta throughout Europe marked the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carl Linnaeus, often called the "father of taxonomy". Botanic gardens in Mexico and Japan celebrated National Botanic Garden Day (see story below). Finally, plant-based education institutions in the United States celebrated Plant Conservation Day on May 18. Is your garden or institution celebrating a historical figure or event in the near future? Send us your news, and we'll include your story in the next issue of Education E-update.
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Education News from Around the World
Gardens in Mexico and Japan celebrate National Botanic Garden Day: In late May, botanic gardens throughout Mexico celebrated the second annual National Botanic Garden Day with special events, classes and tours for visitors. At the Francisco Javier Clavijero Botanic Garden in Xalapa, Veracruz, visitors selected from a variety of celebratory events, including exhibitions, themed guided tours, horticultural workshops for children and adults, dance and theatre performances, and a special presentation about the origin of maize culture. Visit the BGCI website for more information. Also, on May 4 botanic gardens in Japan celebrated the first-ever National Botanic Garden Day. With funding from Aveda and sponsored by BGCI and the Japan Association of Botanical Gardens, 100 botanic gardens in Japan took part in promoting botanic gardens and plant conservation. The BGCI website has additional information (in Japanese).
Join the online consultation on the DESD!: An online consultation about the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) 2005-2014 is underway. The exchange of innovative projects and ideas in English and French will continue until June 30. This online consultation will help to prepare an assessment of the progress and achievements on the first two years of the DESD. Register to join the online consultation on the DESD.
Huntington Botanical Gardens wins museum award: The Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory of Botanical Science at the Huntington Botanical Gardens (USA) has been awarded the Grand Prize in the American Association of Museum's Annual Excellence in Exhibition Competition. This competition recognizes outstanding achievement in the exhibition format from museums, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens and any other type of non-commercial institutions offering exhibitions to the public.
Botanic garden education: a global snapshot: A huge thanks to all those who answered BGCI's survey of garden education provision in 2006. The results have been analysed and were presented at the 3rd Global Botanic Gardens Congress. The data provide an invaluable baseline so we can monitor and review the achievements and growth of education in botanic gardens in the coming years. Read the full report.
Fifth Planta Europa Conference: The Fifth Planta Europa Conference will take place Sept. 5-11 in Cluj Napoca, Romania. The conference organisers are looking for education, public awareness and capacity building presentations. For more information, visit the conference website or email Eutiquio Martinez with your expression of interest or abstract.
Send us news from your botanic garden or plant-based education site, and we'll include it in an upcoming issue of Education E-update.
Tools You Can Use
New Gardening With Children book: From Brooklyn Botanic Garden (USA), this colorful new book includes more than 40 hands-on activities for teaching children about the natural world and ecology through the joys of gardening. Activities include wildlife and food gardening projects, nature explorations, science experiments, journal keeping, and arts and craft activities. The BBG website has full details and ordering information.
Plant conservation goes online for kids in Malaysia: The Malaysia Cyber Plant Conservation Project involves students and schools in the planting and conservation of rare fruit trees. Participants plant and care for trees, and learn about plant conservation through a variety of education modules. The Project's website allows children to post updates on their plants to share with other participants.
Florida (USA) Invasive Plant Education Initiative and Curriculum: This website offers teaching materials that focus on the importance of native plants and the impacts of some invasive plants on Florida's ecosystem. Materials are available for a wide range of age groups and can provide relevant curriculum ideas for plant-based educators around the world. Visit the Initiative website for more information.
Send us your tools that plant-based educators can use, and we'll include them in an upcoming issue of Education E-update.
Calling all plant-based educators! In each issue of Education E-update, we ask for your comments or ideas regarding a contemporary education issue or question relevant to plant-based conservation education. Last month, we asked for your ideas and experiences working with climate change issues. But we need more responses! Tell us how you use plants to teach about climate change, and we'll share your ideas with readers around the world in the next issue.
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In the Spotlight
In each issue of Education E-update, we shine the spotlight on an innovative plant conservation education programme or educator. If you would like to be "in the spotlight," email firstname.lastname@example.org. This month, we shine the spotlight on Nopasika Malta Qwathekana, Director: Environmental Education for the South African National Biodiversity Institute. The interview is excerpted below. You can also read the full interview.
How long have you worked in plant-based education? 4 years.
How did you become involved in plant-based education? SANBI develops and manages botanical gardens throughout the country (South Africa) and I work for SANBI as the Head of Environmental Education (EE). In the unit that I manage, we run EE programmes that are intended to use plants in educating schools and communities on how to conserve our natural heritage. We therefore invite target audiences to the botanical gardens for these sessions. We also run parallel programmes called Outreach Greening programmes, where we assist in developing indigenous waterwise gardens in schools and communities... Through developing and implementing all these complex but interesting programmes, I got involved in plant-based education.
What would you say your philosophy is on education and learning? Getting target audiences actively participating and taking ownership of processes involved, starting from the known (indigenous knowledge) to the unknown (scientific knowledge), and holistic approaches that take into consideration all the aspects involved.
What is the one thing you want your audiences to go away knowing? That the environment with all the natural resources, especially plants, is the basis for our existence, and without it as a foundation, development is unsustainable and our existence is threatened. Plants form the basis for our food (meat - we get meat from animals that eat plants; and vegetables); medication; building materials; and fresh air as plants act as pollution sinks.
What one piece of advice can you offer to an educator starting up an education programme in a botanic garden? Think globally and act locally using integrated holistic approaches.
What is your favorite plant? Cycad.
For more information about SANBI's programs, email Nopasika Malta Qwathekana or visit the SANBI website.
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