By Sboniso Phakathi – Project Leader: Rural Initiatives for a Sustainable Environment (RISE)
The RISE team kicked off the new year by welcoming a group of 13 prospective coaches on the eight-day Coaching Conservation’s (CC) Train the Trainer course.
The coaches arrived from different work contexts joined by Coaching Conservation’s call of Inspiring Kids Who Care. We were joined by four coaches from Wild Entrust in Botswana, three from South Africa (Southern African Wildlife College), and six coaches from Amakhala in the Eastern Cape. All teams arrived in high spirits and maintained their enthusiasm until the end, even when the weather conditions made it challenging to adapt. The temperature during the training period was particularly high for the season at around 36 degrees Celsius.
In achieving the goal of producing competent and passionate CC Trainers and Mentors, the team received training in the following areas:
- The evolution of the coaching conservation program and its aims
- Policies on safeguarding and child protection
- An introduction to environmental education
- Learning from wildlife (ecology and ethology)
- Current and future conservation challenges,
- Monitoring and evaluation
- The grade 5 Rhino Rapid Awareness Programme
- The grade 6 Vulture Rapid Awareness Programme
- An introduction to the Grade 7 Ambassador Programme
The trainers’ newly acquired skills were put to the test when they visited Mtembeni and Mahlekisana Primary to do their practicals. Upon arriving at both schools, the children recognised the brightly coloured CC apparel and great excitement ensued. The trainers were greeted by over 60 grade five and six learners in the highest of spirits, eager to find out what the coaches had in store for them.
Both days were filled with fun educational activities, as the coaches presented exciting lessons on vultures and rhino. The team and children discussed the challenges faced by these animal guides, their behaviour, habitats, and lessons that can be learnt from them as well as how to apply these lessons on the field, at school and in their respective homes.
Finally, the children explored ways in which they can take action to help the animals to survive extinction. All the coaches demonstrated keen compliance with safety precautions and safeguarding of children whilst applying various “energizers” to keep the children focussed and engaged.
The RISE unit is pleased with the performance of the coaches who have become ambassadors of the programme. We hope that the trainers and Mentors continue their excellent work in Inspiring Kids Who Care.
The department also continued its work with Global Environment Facility (GEF) 6 Programmes targeting Environmental Monitors for SANParks in the Southern, Central and Northern Clusters. We look forward to the ongoing training in the year ahead.