Connecting children with nature…my first weeks as an education volunteer at BirdLife Malta

March 4, 2019 3:33 pm

I started my European Erasmus+ Volunteering experience with BirdLife Malta on the 9th of January 2019 when I landed on the Maltese Islands. The impact was strong but positive. Malta, a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, is extremely rich from the historical, cultural and naturalistic point of view. Thanks to this European project I have the opportunity to discover and experience day after day this great variety.

Kids and volunteer are doing crafts.
At Kuluri Karnival at Esplora (Photo by Abbie Ferrar)

I work in the education team and our main purpose is to connect people, especially children, with nature. The growing building development in Malta has generated an evident detachment from nature that has become extraneous to the people’s daily life. Under this condition, our goal is a challenge. During these first weeks I have already had the opportunity to take part in a wide variety of activities managed by the education team.

Amongst these are the Green Talk carried out at a primary school, the exploration of the Foresta 2000 Nature Reserve with a group of Girl Guides and the Magic of Stories reading sessions carried out every Friday evening at Simar Nature Reserve. I also had the opportunity to entertain a group of children and their families from the organization Smiling with Jerome at Simar. It was a great day…children were curious and loved exploring the reserve. It is rewarding to see them involved in the outdoor activities we do and this stimulates me further to find new strategies to engage them. I feel honoured that my tasks are to make children reflect upon how we can protect our environment and understand how important it is for our lives. 

A kid is spending the day with his family and volunteers at Simar Nature Reserve.
Kids from Smiling with Jerome at Simar Nature Reserve (Photo by Kristina Govorukha)

Our annual calendar is full of events and it is already time to develop the programme for the summer school that will be held at Salina Nature Reserve this summer. We will offer a programme of eight weeks with a different theme for each week. Children will be able to learn about chemistry, energy, earth science, forensic science and the human body, having a lot of fun through direct engagement with the natural world.  

We also organize events for young people and adults. In February, for instance, for Valentine’s Day we held a multiplier event for young people during which we entertained them with talks, games, food and a tour of our Salina Nature Reserve. This event formed part of one of our Erasmus+ environmental education projects called PINE (Practical Innovative Nature Education) which is aimed at youths to enhance their personal development and appreciation for the environment. It was in fact a really nice way to invite youths to experience nature in a better way.  

I look forward to more of these opportunities to engage people, especially children, with nature. Let’s hope it will be an eventful year ahead! 

By Clara Citterio, BirdLife Malta Education Assistant