Finding Inspiration in Estonia
Representatives from Ramat Hanadiv’s Junior Rangers programme met their European colleagues in Estonia to share experiences and ideas for nature conservation activities in parks
This is the second year that Ramat Hanadiv has sent representatives to an international EUROPARC camp for junior rangers from around Europe. Each year, the camp hosts young adults from across Europe to enable them to meet junior rangers from other countries and learn about their activities while acquiring new field skills. The camp is run by the EUROPARC administration and hosted by a different country each year. This year, the camp took place at Lahemaa National Park in Estonia; participants included young men and women from 9 countries who work year-round for nature conservation in nature reserves and parks in their residential area. The Israeli representatives were Shirel Aknin and Yoav Bushmitz, members of Junior Rangers at Ramat Hanadiv. The Israeli delegation was accompanied by Nina Hanegbi from Ramat Hanadiv.
The Junior Rangers programme at Ramat Hanadiv is part of an international programme for youth involvement in parks and nature reserves and is recognised as a community involvement track in schools. The programme is designed for 10th- to 12th-grade students who love nature, fieldwork and wildlife conservation. This is a group of young activists who work together in diverse ways to raise awareness about conservation of the park, through publicity and through routine work around the park.
The camp in Estonia took place at Lahemaa National Park in north Estonia. Lahemaa is one of the largest national parks in Europe, covering an area of 725 km2! The park’s convention calls for conservation, research and protection of the landscapes, ecosystem, biodiversity, and national heritage of northern Estonia.
At the camp, the young adults participated in a range of experiential and learning activities throughout the park, receiving high-quality instruction from leading professionals in their field. They went on hikes, rode bicycles, sailed boats, participated in birding activities guided by professionals, monitored bats and other mammals and worked in the amazing forests of Estonia. In addition, they learned how to make a fire in the forest and played music around the bonfire, learned to dance Estonian and other folk dances, taught each other social games from different countries, visited the President’s house, visited museums, learned about Estonian culture and ate plenty of wild strawberries and blueberries.
Likewise, the camp served as a place for sharing knowledge and developing a range of ideas for the Junior Rangers programme. Each evening the participants were exposed to activities run in parks throughout Europe, via presentations given by the representatives from the different countries. At the end of each presentation, the delegation offered authentic dishes from their home country for the other participants to enjoy. Nina Hanegbi, the mentor from Ramat Hanadiv, told us that Shirel and Yoav made an impressive and honourable presentation, and were met with great enthusiasm when they talked about their use of the Survey 123 app that is used at Ramat Hanadiv to monitor and document information related to the park, such as animal footprints, hazards in the field etc. The uniqueness of the app lies in the fact that it shows the exact location of the ‘hazard’ on the map. Hanegbi added that everyone was amazed by the fact that our young adults come weekly to work in the park, while in other countries the activities took place just a few times per year. “It was moving to see the young adults from Italy, Spain, Sweden and other countries getting tongue-tied in English, but nevertheless communicating, where the common denominator is a love of nature. Indeed, spending time in nature is healing, especially in the beautiful natural areas that this country has to offer,” she added.
Shirel Aknin spoke enthusiastically about the experience: “It’s an experience I will always remember; I met new people and friends, new languages, cultures, customs and a new country. Who knew that Estonia could be so interesting?! Amazing nature, that I was not aware of, huge expanses of forests and water. This experience exposed me to new opinions and world philosophies, and also taught me many things about myself.”
Concerning the differences between the small park she comes from and the huge European park, Shirel said: “Although the Nature Park at Ramat Hanadiv is small and different from the other larger, broader and diverse parks, I realised how rich it is and how much I love it and am proud to continue next year working and guiding in it.”
The Junior Rangers programme promotes the relationship between the region’s students and the park and provides them with a unique experience that connects them to work in the real word. Their level of commitment to the programme exceeds all expectations and they ask to come during their vacations, contributing far more that required by the Ministry of Education.
Students in 10th-12th grades from the region who are interested in joining the programme in the next school year are welcome to follow this link: http://bit.ly/JuniorRangers2019
Did you like it? Join our free mailing list to receive monthly news and updates about activities for the whole family. Register here.