|Teaching Conservation in Developing Nations (Peace Corps)|
People will not preserve and protect a natural environment which they do not understand or respect. When people learn about the relationship of all forms of life to each other and to the earth, they begin to have a responsible attitude toward natural resources and their wise use.
The goal of conservation education is to lead the public through a series of steps about nature, land and natural resources. These are:
The purpose of this manual is to show that conservation education can be presented in a variety of ways and in a variety of situations, and that there is no single method of presentation. The ideas which are presented here are to stimulate your own ideas which will relate to your own situation. It is generally easier if you have a physical setting such as a government building, a school, a community or other local center in which to present an on-going conservation education program by means of pictures and posters, exhibits and collections, films and discussions. This manual has been structured around this kind of setting.
The manual begins with a Chapter dealing with a self-contained conservation education center in order to give you the broadest possible range of ideas that could be used in presenting conservation education. Although you may not be planning this sort of center, as you read the Chapter look for general ideas which you could use in other ways. The Chapters which follow tell of ways in which a conservation education program can be incorporated into your activities if you are working in a school, a health center, an agricultural extension center or other community services. Again, as you read these Chapters, look for ideas you can use. The Appendices help you to carry out specific suggestions which are presented in the Chapters; at the end of the manual there is a list of places which can provide you with further information, and a Glossary of the environmental words used in the manual.
Do not feel that it is necessary to have a formal setting in order to educate people about their environment. If you are a community leader, or a health or agricultural extension worker who visits several communities, you will find that many of the ideas presented in the manual can be adapted for informal presentation in your situation. If you are a school teacher, use the portions of the school conservation education program (Chapter 2) that are suitable to the needs of your school's community.
What is important is to start people thinking about how to improve their own lives by improving their natural environment. In addition to the ideas suggested in this manual, you might prepare a short daily message to be presented on the local radio to encourage people to start thinking about the practice of erosion control as a means to reduce crop loss (see Chapter 4). Or you might prepare a short weekly feature in the newspaper to tell which local animals are endangered, and why (see Appendix G).
All of these are ways to help you develop your community's interest and responsibility toward the environment. If you can bring an understanding of environmental interdependence to Just one area of community life, you have made a contribution to conservation as a whole.