Happy Earth Festival has grown

2017-04-26 06:02

OVER 1500 pupils participated in hands-on environmental learning that connects them to nature at the fifth Happy Earth Festival held over two days at the KZN Botanical Gardens.

The pupils were offered 24 activities by environmental education organisations. Chairperson of the Happy Earth EES Forum Pandora Long said this was a huge increase from the 1 300 pupils that attended last year’s festival.

“We are thrilled by the growth of the festival. A total of 65 schools used the opportunity to visit the 24 activities on offer.

“The space and beauty of the KZN Botanical Gardens made it the perfect location to hold the festival and we are truly thankful to the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi) and their on-going support.

“It was an exciting mix of old and new organisations present,” said Long.

Among the new organisations Nick Evans from the KZN Amphibian and Reptile Society taught snake awareness, Midi connected with the pupils through drumming and Alicia du Plessis offered an emotional intelligence activity.

Grow-n-live took over the popular amazing race and allowed retired lecturer Morag Peden to offer a cap related grassland activity.

Richard Mabanga from Rhino Art had the longest way to the festival as he came all the way from Nongoma to share his passion for Rhino and Rhino Conservation.

uShaka Sea World returned to the festival with new education staff and new ideas.

Hugo from Songimvelo brought some fresh recycling and up cycling ideas to the KPCA stand and the KZN Crane Foundation had for the first time a stand on its own.

The Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa) short film festival added food for thought about several environmental topics for the high school pupils. Bessie Head library had the best of both worlds as Earth Day and World Book day fell in the same week.

The KZN Museum excited the little ones with their own puppet show besides their excellent exhibit material and experienced staff. Combining teaching with much laughter and fun could be seen and heard at the Sunshine Bread, Working on Fire, Sanbi, Dusi Umngeni Conservation Trust (Duct) and Wessa Umgeni Valley stand.

At PMMBT Peace and EDTEA, pupils from all ages could learn about planting and growing their own vegetables and the Herbarium from UKZN focused on medicinal plants for this year.

#HappyEarth was the motto of a mobile frame and many pictures of the event can be found on the Happy Earth Forum Facebook page.

Thanks to Lottery funding, Sunshine Bread, Fairfield Dairy, Parklane and Mayor Walk Spar a snack was provided to each pupil attending the festival.

The ladies of the Prestbury Methodist Church prepared the 1 500 sandwiches needed for the two-day festival.

Event co-ordinator Friderieka Voigt said the overall the event was exciting and successful with hopes and plans to grow it in future. - Supplied

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