A Devon educator has become the first accredited UN climate change teacher in a UK zoo.
Steve Nash, Head of Education for Wild Planet Trust, the charity that runs Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall, has become a UN Accredited Climate Change teacher.
“The modules are based on the most recent evidence regarding climate change science and its impacts on everyday life around the world. It is now widely acknowledged that we are facing a climate emergency – and a changing climate poses challenges for wildlife, for wild places, and for us as a society. Recent reports suggest that the majority of teachers think climate change should be better integrated into the curriculum, but that they find it a challenge to teach such a complex and wide ranging issue.
“Having this certification in our education team means we can offer expert help to teachers. We will be delivering a series of sustainability focussed workshops that broaden our offer and build on the premise that we are more than ‘just’ zoos.
“We have been teaching school groups about conservation since the 1960s. When people think of zoo conservation they often think of breeding programmes for threatened species, or field projects around the world. Climate change poses a real and immediate conservation challenge for thousands of species, so it stands to reason that as a conservation charity we should be able to provide up-to-date information on this topic. We can now speak in a credible and authoritative voice to deliver the facts.”
Paignton Zoo will offer a range of new workshops for the new academic year, focusing on climate change and other sustainability topics. Living Coasts already runs sustainability sessions called Plastic Oceans. Steve again: “We think that children and young people should understand what the challenges are, but more importantly, we want them to see that their actions make a difference, and that the choices they make have a real impact.
“Climate change affects many of the species guests can see at our zoos. Their stories add faces to the problem and help people to understand the topic first hand. When you start to explain that climate change affects not only our own daily lives, but also the lives of people, and animals, from elsewhere, we can create a powerful, compelling, and empowering session.
“Completing the UN accredited course has ensured that we have the most up to date information available about this subject. Not only regarding what climate change is and why it’s happening, but also what its predicted impact will be for topics as wide ranging as health, city living and gender.” Full details of the Trust’s new climate change workshops will be available from September on www.paigntonzoo.org.uk.
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