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Forest School News!

For the last three years Santa Lucia in collaboration with the regional Forest School Network and FONAG has been hosting school groups from different communities of the region for a program that's related to water and its importance for the environment. Students (aged 9 and 10 years old) have the opportunity to visit several forest schools and learn about different aspects of the importance of water in nature.

In our case we look at the water cycle in cloud forests and biodiversity. The groups are usually made up of 15 students and after a welcome at our parking spot we run a 3 to 4 hours long expedition through our forest. We try to explore nature using as many senses as possible and - although there are some fixed points in the program - we let the exploration largely up to the kids and their curiosity. Although it is difficult to find "wild life" with such big groups we often encounter tracks of animals, birds in trees and of course a good variety of plants, fungus and invertebrates. In many cases the experience is unique for the students, so there are a lot of new things to be observed for them.

After reaching the lodge and hearty lunch, we proceed to our lab where we give them in introduction into some of our research projects (camera trapping, seed dispersal, etc.) and show them some samples of our "museum", such as mammals bones.

Since the kids have to return home before night fall the biggest challenge is to make all this possible within a reasonable time frame. Although - as always in our Forest School Project - the focus is not so much on learning, but rather on inspiring - the character of the overall program (water and its importance) allows for some repeated insights into the theory and practise which has an impact on the knowledge that kids have accummulated during the different visits. Hopefully we also impact a little on the "soft" skills, such as respect and appreciating for nature and its children.

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