23 July 2009

Earth Expeditions visit the South Rift

The South Rift is the latest place to be added to the Earth Expeditions prestigious line-up of global destinations, hosting a team of 19 participants in early July this year.
Earth Expeditions is jointly offered by Project Dragonfly at Miami University, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, and partners worldwide, in order to build an alliance of individuals with first-hand knowledge of inquiry-driven, community-based learning for the benefit of ecological communities, student achievement, and global understanding.
Earth Expeditions envisions each person as an ambassador who creates as well as transmits knowledge, who promotes authentic dialogue at all levels of society, and who inspires others to do the same. By adopting participatory models of education, schools become centers of investigation, students engage more deeply in their studies, and communities achieve higher levels of self-determination.
The Kenya course themes include:
• Introduction to the ecology of East African savannah ecosystems
• Inquiry-driven learning
• Community-based conservation and participatory education
• Models of conservation: national parks and community-owned conservancies
• Field method techniques
Most of the 19 people were actually enrolled in the new Global Field Program offered by Earth Expeditions. The Global Field Program (GFP) brings Master’s degree candidates, scientists, educators, community leaders, and others together at conservation hotspots in Africa, Asia, and the Americas for firsthand experience with inquiry-driven education, environmental stewardship, and global understanding. GFP candidates join a growing network of leaders who work collaboratively to bring about change in local and global contexts. This program builds on the graduate courses and environmental partnerships of Earth Expeditions and the NSF funded Wild Research.

This year included a community interaction day, a visit to the local Olkiramatian Primary school (where there was a historic football match played), game drives which included learning some field techniques for observing animal behaviour in relation to carnivore presence and general methods for counting animals, walking with Joel and the baboon troop and going out with Paul at night to track and observe the collared lions in the area.

The trip was an enormous success, and the South Rift will continue to host Earth Expedition groups for many years to come.

‘Thanks you so much. The course was very meaningful to all of the participants. It is the type of experience that changes a person forever! I am more impressed than ever with your effort and the community, even with the stress caused by the drought you and the community were so very welcoming. Thank You’ (Dave Jannike, course leader).