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Enhancing an understanding of the environment, especially wildlife

                                                          nature in
                                                          Toohey Forest

We agree with the Deakin Declaration of the  Interpretation Australia Association, which states  "We believe that interpretation makes an essential contribution to the conservation of Australia's natural, social and cultural heritage by raising public awareness and creating opportunities for understanding, appreciation and enjoyment".

Our Scenic Rim Wildlife Ecology Centre and associated nature trails, our interpretive products and the nature interpretation offered to our guests on ecotours and educational camps, embrace this philosophy as well as the sheer enjoyment one can derive from nature appreciation.

As a young child, Araucaria proprietor  Ronda Green was continually baffled at why so many people seemed bored with life, when we have such a fascinating planet to live on. She took every opportunity to introduce fellow students and her teachers to the wonders of wildlife and nature generally, and at the age of 17 started and ran a holiday farm with an emphasis on nature study and horsemanship. Decades later, she never stops learning and being amazed by the natural wonders of our planet, or wanting to share its delights with others. There is now also an increasingly pressing need for as many as possible to appreciate and understand some of the ecological workings of our natural ecosystems to avoid their irreversible disruption, and of particular fauna and flora species before they disappear forever.

When running her holiday farm in the Adelaide Hills, Ronda spent many hours looking through books of party games and adapting these to games and puzzles that children could learn from about nature. She later
attended an environmental education course with Steve Van Matre and has several of his books. We agree with his ideas on using enjoyable activities to bring home the messages of our part in nature and environmental conservation. We think he goes a bit too far with the idea of abolishing the naming of plant and animal species - naming something does not have to detract from its beauty or intrinsic interest, and enables the person who learns the name to both recognise when the same species is mentioned elsewhere, and to look up further information. His techniques however have been employed by Ronda over the years in various capacities, especially on children's camps and outings.

Ronda has also lectured in Outdoor/Indoor Laboratories - a service course by the Biology department of the Capricorn Institute of Advanced Education to the education department  -  a sort of crash course in biology for primary teaching students and practical activities they can use for their future students.  She also worked for a year for the Australian Conservation Foundation on a special project on recreational and educational experiences for primary-aged children.  Out of that arose two books:  Bush Holidays and Outings in Victoria and Guidelines to the Preparation of Nature Trails (now both long out of print). Her interest in the interaction of play and learning also led her to conduct research into play behaviour of young chimpanzees at Taronga Zoo (still unpublished, largely due to sudden loss of computer data on and old system and no time available to go through all the field notes again transposing to data files)

We at the Araucaria home property live in one of the most species-rich regions of Australia (that's one of the reasons we chose to live here), and are keen to enhance the appreciation of our wonderful array of fauna and flora by local residents as well as visitors.  To this end we have previously run a number of wildlife workshops on behalf of Wildlife Tourism Australia and the Logan and Albert Conservation Association, and more recently have started a local Scenic Rim group of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland.

Some interesting websites relevant to environmental education:

Interpretation Australia Association
Learning environments that invite 'serious play'
Earth Education
Learning through play
Sustainability education (Australian Government pages)
Australian Association for Environmental Education Inc.