Encouraging care for nature at Chung Cheng High School (Main)
15 Feb 2019
Secondary 2 student Carol Chin confesses that she used to have little interest in flora and fauna - she could barely recognise the difference between a moth and a butterfly.
But she grew to love nature after attending the one-year Biodiversity Enrichment Programme at Chung Cheng High School (Main).
The programme, which was put together with various organisations including NParks and Nature Society Singapore, provides hands-on opportunities for interested Secondary One students to learn about nature.
The programme aims to bring nature and wildlife closer to students. Instead of just reading about plants and animals in their textbooks, the students are encouraged to walk around the campus to observe visiting birds and various species of trees. They also spend time weeding, laying tiles and planting greenery in the school’s butterfly garden.
“Nothing beats the experience of learning about various species of trees than actually seeing the trees, feeling the bark, looking at the lichen and algae on the trunks and watching animals living in the trees,” explained Ms Teo Jo Hsuan, the teacher-in-charge of the programme. “They also get a glimpse of how scientists collect data in nature by learning about survey techniques and actually carrying out the survey themselves.”
Students also get to learn from industry experts and share their knowledge of nature with the public at exhibitions.
The programme was inspired by the school’s location at Goodman Road, which is also home to a variety of flora and fauna. “We have sighted hornbills, grey herons, sunbirds and bee eaters in our school,” said Ms Teo. “Sea birds have also come to fish in the lake in our school.”
Sharing knowledge to make a difference
As the students get closer to nature, they realise the importance of leading a sustainable lifestyle. They also discover that habits which they may not have thought much of, such as using more plastic bags than necessary, or carelessly dropping litter on the ground, could cause harm to the environment. When students are cognisant of how their actions can make a difference, they make it a point to care for the environment and encourage others to do the same.
For Carol, meeting English primatologist and anthropologist Dr Jane Goodall at a conference inspired her to take effort in protecting the environment.
“Attending her talk gave me new insight on biodiversity and the conservation efforts that are taking place around the world,” she shared. “Listening to her struggles and persistence in learning more about chimpanzees has also inspired me to do the best I can for the environment.”
Carol found the opportunity to do so through volunteering stints in the programme, where she spoke to members of the public about nature and butterflies at the Festival of Biodiversity showcase.
“I was initially afraid of speaking to strangers,” she said. “But my interest in nature gave me the courage to stand up and share about biodiversity. I hope that my outreach will allow more people to come to know, love and protect nature.”