The panel who made the launching of the education centre possible are from left: Chairman of the Garden Route Botanical Garden (GRBG) Trust, Colin Ralston; Prof Raymond Auerbach of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University; Annemarie Gebhardt of the Wildlife Environmental Society of SA (WESSA) Eden; Louise Störm of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED); and Monica Vaccaro of the Landmark Foundation.
GEORGE NEWS – The first Environmental Education Centre (EEC) of its kind in the Southern Cape was put into use for the first time on Saturday 5 February when 100 primary school teachers attended two training workshops.
The EEC in the heart of the Garden Route Botanical Garden was completed last year. The centre is unfurnished, the floors are untiled, and an urgent appeal was made by a group of passionate volunteers asking for funding or donations for desks, laboratory equipment, IT equipment and floor tiles.
The panel includes Monica Vaccaro from Landmark Foundation, Prof Raymond Auerbach from Nelson Mandela University, Louise Störm, Subject Advisor (Natural Sciences),Western Cape Education Department (WCED), Eden/Central Karoo, Annemarie Gebhardt from the Wildlife Environmental Society of SA (WESSA) Eden and Colin Ralston, Chairman of the Garden Route Botanical Garden (GRBG) Trust.
Since the Environmental Centre is still just an empty building, it was thanks to the generosity of Auerbach and the tea garden Getafix that sufficient chairs were loaned for the day.
Tarita Pollicutte, curator of the Botanical Garden, sourced trestle tables for the occasion. Apart from being the first official event at this new centre, it is also a red letter event in that it is the first time in several years that the Western Cape Education Department partnered up with the Botanical Garden team.
Two enthusiastic subject advisors presented teacher training workshops in their respective subjects. Louise Störm integrated the theme of sustainability of natural resources in her teacher training workshop and Pieter Theron, Subject Advisor (Social Sciences) WCED Eden/Central Karoo, focused on the links between culture and natural resources.
For the majority of teachers, this was their first visit to the Botanical Gardens and they were visibly thrilled at the discovery of such a gem in George. Many of them travelled from distant towns such as Ladismith, Riversdal, Beaufort West and other places in the Eden /Central Karoo Education District. The enthusiasm shown by all these teachers was tangible and very rewarding to witness.
Colin Ralston guided the teachers along the Mushroom Trail through the forest. The teachers were very excited about the many ideas they came up with on how the Botanical Gardens can be integrated into their subjects.
Auerbach introduced the teachers to the Medicinal Mound and ideas of how Indigenous Knowledge Systems can be integrated were outlined.
Gebhardt said, “It is a unique opportunity for interest groups to partner up with the GRBG Trust towards a fully functional EEC. Your sponsorship will be acknowledged and will be a most valuable investment towards environmental education in the region.”
For sponsorship, please contact Colin Ralston at 044 874 1558 or 082 338 2121. Gebhardt can be reached at 044 870 0086 or 083 301 3248.
The inauguration of the first Environmental Education Centre (EEC) of its kind in the Southern Cape took place on Saturday 5 February. Human and natural sciences workshops were attended by 100 teachers. Teachers and volunteers were all excited at having such a facility on their doorstep. Photos: Pauline Lourens