Connecting wetland centres across the world

Danapure, Colegio Liceo Taller San Miguel

Danapure, Colegio Liceo Taller San Miguel

Name of the organisations: Liceo Taller San Miguel

San Miguel School Garden

Financial support:  With our own resources and other economic ones that the students themselves collect in activities, such as grocery selling and raffles within the school. Due to the growth of the project and the need for materials and supplies to offer visitors, especially children and young people, we are looking for strategies to obtain external resources for the school and continue with the growth of the work, especially in the scientific field.

Number of staff: 360 students and 87 teachers

Number of visitors per year:  Around 450

Key objetives of the project

Bilingual education, environment with emphasis in art.

Description of the centre
Our school covers about 6.5 hectares, located in a rural area surrounded by forests and vegetation which is very rich in water sources.  We have two creeks and a wetland where we can see a good number of birds, which we have not identified taxonomically for inventory yet, because we are working first on labeling the insects, especially butterflies, with which students are building an interactive guide supported in artistic photographs.  These are taken in exhibition by other schools and museums to initially raise awareness in teachers and students from the same village where we share the same waters, vegetation and birdlife, looking for their protection and to end up with inadequate practices of butterfly-collection without a scientific guidance, also to teach how to observe them and enjoy them in freedom for its conservation.  Research projects are conducted with four to seventeen-year-old students accompanied by teachers and parents, some of them are specialists in environmental issues.

We do not have an accurate visitor registration as our own students are the ones who mostly visit the wetland on a daily basis.  We have conducted workshops for over a hundred children of very low-income-schools who are invited to live this experience so that it is replicated in their schools.  The area of the wetland was discovered about two years ago in botanical expeditions, in a place that was not allowed to enter due to the dangers it represented with the insecticide pollution, garbage and other waste matters that were deposited there not knowing the environmental wealth there was.   The cleaning and recovery work were done for over two years, and the results have been very positive for it has become an attractive place for all kinds of insects and birds, for outdoors classes, and a life biology laboratory where nature has became our own book for research.  The wetland is surrounded by beautiful (Heliconia) flowers and other types of plants that protect water and has become a shelter for birds, butterflies and insects, fruit trees and other ornamental plants.  In the middle of the wetland, we can see specific wetland vegetation and a wide variety of beautiful Odonados plants.

Key areas of CEPA work

We have had the support of some national and local media. Also through the Technological University of Pereira students in the Environmental Faculty, who have conducted conferences to share at the University and socialize the experience with other students of other faculties, such as the Faculty of communication and fine arts, some of them have done their apprenticeship for their degree at our school.

With the support of GREEN PEACE from Mexico, Argentina and Colombia we have made different campaigns that were shared to us in order to be spread through the Division of Ozone from the Ministry of Environment of our country, for several years we have been in charge of the WORLD DAY PROTECTION OF THE OZONE LAYER celebration, inviting students of low income from our village and we share different activities of awareness about the topic, the same way with the company AGENDA DEL MAR (The Sea´s Agenda) which whom we work in the publication of a booklet Planeta Azul (Blue Planet) and the project EL PLANETA CUENTA CONTIGO (The World´s Counting On You)

The educational part is cross-curricular to the different areas of knowledge, on the basis of mathematics, languages, social, arts, natural sciences and biology that are privileged material for the study of the nature.  Our wetlands is a real example of an innovative way of recovering contaminated areas and convert them into school outdoor classrooms, where observation is the key element of our methodology in the training of researchers.  It starts with the awareness of the little ones in preschool. This project has been shared, especially, with other schools, where it is our students the ones responsible for sensitizing and raising awareness, especially on issues that affect our own village community, like: the smuggling of wildlife, pollution of waters by poor disposal of garbage and others that are typical of rural communities.

Top three successes

getting to the educational community with messages of the environment conservation and protection, the promotion that has taken our project named WINGS. This project seeks to recover the surrounding areas of the wetland in order to convert them into gardens of butterflies in freedom.  This represents a very ambitious project for our school, looking for students and visitors to have the opportunity of interacting with dancers of nature in a direct way, getting to know their mating and reproduction way, and their lives from the larval state.  This experience awakens in viewers a protectionist sense which ensures the success of the project that is just in its initial stage. We currently have a small budget to carry it out, but seeing young people become cartoonists and environmental photographers, encourages us to move forward with our natural Butterfly Garden.

We belong to a rural educational core where there are more than twenty schools with more than thousand children from low-income families.  That’s why we are expecting the response of the Corporación Autónoma Regional CARDER (Regional Autonomous Corporation), to partially support us in order to be able to invite 5th graders of at least ten schools (three hundred and twenty students) to get to know our experience and very likely replicate it in some schools where there are wetlands, or spaces that can be recovered and are converted into outdoor classrooms.

Top three challenges
To restore the contaminated area with garbage where there wasn´t any knowledge of the importance of the wetland and enthuse the Educational Community to participate in the difficult work days.

Convert the wetland into a classroom with its own research lab, sensitizing teachers to understand its scientific value.

Start by building a garden of butterflies in the surroundings in order to augment its population and of the other insects that have arrived attracted by the environmental offer that they have found; we should find the financial resources to finally get to the design and construction of an interactive guide of insects and that the place will count on a secure environment for visitors, plant host and nutritious vegetables to maintain the equilibrium of the insect population and to spread the experience to other schools.

It hasn’t been easy getting to where we are with the wetland, keeping in mind that we had no previous knowledge and at the beginning we introduced vegetable species that didn’t belong to swamp places and  which affected the preservation of water, we also tried to build a place for butterflies without any success, therefore we didn’t think that breeding butterflies was a project that should be directed by biologists or experts in the area, also there wasn’t enough space to have a greenhouse with a lab to handle the larvae and the pupae.

The mistakes that we made at the beginning due to ignorance, we have made them our strengths that we share with the people that visit us, in order for our experience be spread with success in places where wetlands could be detected and green areas that are not being used could become live labs; a huge challenge that we have set ourselves to accomplish is to visit the different schools in our area to help them achieve similar jobs.

Interpretation techniques

Creating signage; site information; Producing written materials; Using audio-visual tools

Visitor centres

Managing / creating habitat; Running a visitor centre; Building / maintaining structures

Participation

Engaging young people; Engaging the local community; Working with volunteers

Education and communication

Early years education; Delivering adult education; Working with primary schools; Working with secondary schools; Developing resources / materials

General

PR and marketing; fund-raising; Project planning.

Calle  11 No. 24-30 Álamos, Pereira, Risaralda, Colombia S.A.  E: info@liceotallersanmiguel.edu.co; luz.tisnes@hotmail.com

Tel: 057 6 3151818   fax 057 6 3112571

Dirección del sitio web:

The WLI network is endorsed by the Ramsar Convention on wetlands and coordinated by WWT.

Contact

Wetland Link International
WWT Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, GL2 7BT, UK
T: +44 (0) 1453 891214
E: info@wli.org.uk Twitter: @wetlandlink