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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.

Education for Sustainable Development: Case Studies

(Adapted from editorial, Roots 18, Lucy Sutherland)

Education by Stealth: The Subtle Art of Educating People who Didn't Come to Learn

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

La cultura maya se ha caracterizado por tener un profundo conocimiento de la naturaleza, herencia invaluable que rescatamos y difundimos en nuestro pograma de educación ambiental.Nuestras colecciones pretenden mostrar la diversidad del mundo vegetal asi como la enorme variedad de usos de estos recursos: maderables, comestibles, medicinales, melíferas, curtientes, tintóreas, textiles, ornamentales, ceremoniales, condimento, construcción y artesanales.

Seeking Partnerships to Teach Biodiversity

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.

Biodiversity Education for All

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.

Making the Most of Traditional Festival Days

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.

Education Programmes at Limbe Botanic Garden: Model Solutions

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.

Science for the Public

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.

A Winning Design for Education

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.