As educators, we often struggle to engage our audience in meaningful learning. Environmental educators are no different.
It’s easy to engage the keen audiences, the ones that ask lots of questions and are generally eager to learn about conservation issues. It’s the ones that are only marginally interested that take lots of effort.
I was fortunate to have Adrian and Tamara from Animals Anonymous give a presentation to my TAFE students the other day. They brought with them their wonderful cohort of native Australian animals. Adrian Sherriff has been using animals as a catalyst to teach people of all ages about environmental issues for years. Nearly every person I’ve seen is fascinated by wildlife, especially when it’s something they often don’t get up close to.
One might call these animals exotic, but they aren’t. They are exotic in that many people don’t know anything about them, yet they are native to Australia. It always disappoints me that most Australians know more about African animals than our own.
Adrian is on a mission to change that, but he also does more. He talks about many contemporary conservation issues, and people listen. They are enthralled. The wildlife are a big part of that. I’ve seen three of his presentations now, but on the most recent occasion he brought a Rufus Bettong, Long-nosed Potoroo, Tawny Frogmouth, Green Tree Frog, lots of lizards and a Carpet Python. I think the stars of the show, however, were the baby Carpet Pythons. Everyone loved them.
Having native wildlife running around the classroom is a great way to engage your students in discussions about biodiversity issues – whether it be ecological adaptations, habitat loss or something in between.