As the year draws to an end, so too does this year’s Marine Scout Programme. To conclude the hard work of our Local Ocean Marine Scouts, we invited their parents to the project for an end of year celebration. All the Marine Scouts arrived at the project at 4pm with their parents. They looked really smart in their uniforms and their faces shone with excitement as they love their time at LOT.
LOT’s Education coordinator, Ann Wanjiru, gave a short welcome and introduction to the scouts and their parents. This was followed by LOT manager, Casper van de Geer, talking to the parents about how proud we all are of the scout’s dedication and passion for conservation. Then it was over to the Marine Scouts as they escorted their parents on a tour of the project, taking it in turns to explain the information walkway to the group.
At the Rehabilitation Centre it was great to hear the scouts explain in detail the ailments we come across in sick and injured turtles. They spoke about different types of diseases, the effects of pollution and types of injuries, as well as what the turtles eat and how to identify the different species. Some of the parents had questions which the marine scouts answered eloquently.
From the Rehabilitation Centre, the scouts led their parents to their mangrove nursery where they explained about the importance of mangroves, the threats leading to deforestation and how they would plant the seedlings they had grown the next day as part of LOT’s mangrove restoration programme. Studying the mangroves has been one of the Marine Scouts favourite topics and they told their parents in detail how and when it was best to collect seedlings, the specialist conditions needed for growing the seedlings and what species could be found in this area.
Throughout the tour, the parents stressed how amazed they were at their children’s confidence in speaking out about what they had learned. The parent’s also drew from this confidence and asked more and more questions as the tour went on. As part of the Marine Scout programme, we encourage the scouts to present to the staff, building their confidence. This was a pleasant surprise to all of the parents.
On completing the tour, everyone headed back to the Marine Centre. Here, the scouts made individual presentations on topics they had covered over the year to the rest of the group. They spoke about marine pollution, mangroves, key conservation word definitions, marine ecosystems, water cycles, inter tidal zones, Marine Protected Areas and turtles.
The parents were all praise for their children and to the project for having the Marine Scout programme. The parents said they were more knowledgeable from the education passed on by their children and that the links they had formed with each other through the scouts’ friendships had strengthened community bonds. The scouts are so dedicated to conservation and animal welfare outside of the programme that their parents’ attitudes have changed as well.
The fact that the marine scouts are surveying, collecting and replanting mangroves has been appreciated by their parents and community at large. One of the parents said that he has been monitoring the marine scouts’ area of restoration in order to protect their efforts. This is fantastic for LOT as much of the work we do is about creating a sense of ownership within the community to avoid over exploitation of resources. The scouts are becoming true ambassadors and protectors of the mangroves as they explain to their family, friends and community members, the importance of mangroves, how long they take to grow and why they should not be cut down.
There was great appreciation of the scouts’ confidence, the parents were thankful that their children would stand in front of them and present so eloquently. We were told that this is also reflected in their school work as they are able to use the skills learnt at LOT to perform better at school.
Lastly the parents thanked the management for the opportunities given to their children through the Marine Scout Programme and expressed an interest in participating in some of the excursions so that they too can experience the beauty of the Marine Park that their children have told them so much about.
To conclude the celebration we presented each scout with a uniform for school. This gesture was greatly appreciated by the parents as it lightens their burden significantly. Everyone left the project with big smiles.
We look forward to seeing some of the scouts again next year as well as welcoming the new faces. We wish those who are moving on to secondary school the best of luck and hope they will come to visit us when they have time.
A huge thank you to the TUSK Trust for funding this programme!