World Wildlife Day – The Future of Elephants is in Our Hands
Report from International Intern, Maddy Ballard
Hello everyone! I’m Elephants and Bees’ newest intern. My name is Maddy Ballard and I’m from the United States. I grew up in Philadelphia but have been living in Brooklyn, NY for the past eight years with my dog, Daisy. I’ve always loved animals and I plan on dedicating my life to conservation and wildlife protection. I majored in Interdisciplinary Science at the New School University in New York, NY. And since graduating in 2012 I’ve been participating in various conservation internships around the world from Ecuador to Madagascar. I love to travel, eat new foods, and meet new people. I’m very excited to be here in Kenya with Elephants and Bees. I’ve only been here a few days but my experiences have been nothing but amazing so far.
Every Wednesday we go to the neighboring school to teach class 8 about ecology. The children are nine to fourteen years old. They are bright and eager to learn and participate. Even though we teach them after their school classes are over, all the children still stay an extra hour to learn with the Elephants and Bees interns.
We try to cover a large range of topics, from animals and plants to biodiversity and sustainability. We also try to add in activities to get the children physically involved. For example last week we taught them about the importance of compost. At the end of the class we all went outside to the school permaculture garden to flip the compost pile.
This week was a special week because Thursday was World Wildlife Day. Coincidentally, the theme this year is elephants! We were lucky to get a class in in the morning where the children drew some elephants and some shared experiences they had had with elephants.
During our afternoon lesson, we wanted to emphasize the international aspect of World Wildlife Day. We wanted to show that people all over the world are celebrating this day, and that we must all work together for the future of our animals. We put together a lesson about the different biomes of the world and animals that lived in each biome. We tried to stress that different parts of the world have very different climates which leads to varying plants and animals. And also that animals have specific adaptations that make them better suited for that habitat. However, it can be difficult to even wrap your head around the existence of a penguin when you have only seen hot savannah your entire life. None the less, many children picked up the different animals very quickly.
After the lesson we played a game outside that was meant to test what the children learned in a fun way. We split the children into groups of three and lined them up on one end of a football field. One of our interns, Emma, then yelled out a biome, and the children could consult with their team members, and then one could run up and tell Sasha an animal that lived in that biome. For example, if Sasha yelled out “Tundra,” after talking with teammates, one person from the group would run up and say “penguin.” The first team with a correct answer would receive three points, the second team, two, and the third, one. Then on to the next round!
This game was a huge success. The children got really into it. Some were a bit shy at first and hung back, but with a bit of encouragement from teammates, they eventually ran forward with different animal names. Others would race each other to get to Sasha first. After many rounds and some bonus rounds we tallied up the scores for each team. We had one clear winning team. The children from the winning team all received a Disney T-shirt, Disney are long term supporters of the project and kindly donated the T-shirts as a prize.
The day was great and we all had a good time, students and teachers alike. I’m glad we were able to celebrate World Wildlife Day in a fun and educational way. Teaching at the school is important to me, because not only is the future in our hands, but more specifically, it’s in the children’s hands.