Eco-Rangers ‘badge up’ on environmental awareness

The Genets (three to seven-year-year-olds) receiving their certificates. Pictured standing at the back, from left, are Tara Dilton-Hill and James Marriott; and in front are Joah Kirkman, Alexis Peters and Scarlett Potgieter.

Helderberg Eco-Rangers is an outdoor nature and environmental education club, where children can learn about the wonders of nature and the world around them.

Children are able to spend time working on a project or activity, and each topic has a set criteria which the children must meet.

Some badges have up to three levels – level one being the most basic, up to level three, where more details, quality and input is required.

Team members are there to assist and guide the children, however , many take the initiative to work on their own at home. The idea behind the “badges” is to motivate young nature enthusiasts to research and explore their chosen topics and broaden their knowledge and skills.

In the case of projects, children create a poster or an overhead presentation and then present it to the group – an excellent way to share their knowledge and inspire others.

Some children create incredible models.

For example, Reinhart van Rooyen created models for all the dwarf planets, and then demonstrated how they move and rotate.

Other children take their pets or examples of rocks to show the group – and there have been chickens, dogs and rabbits visiting the centre.

The activity badges like hiking and conservation require children to get out in nature and take action. Hiking level one requires the children to hike up the Helderberg and sleep under the stars for one night.

Or they must take part in an eight-hour hike carrying all their baggage and refreshments.

Level two hiking means they must complete a two-day hike and two night sleep-over (usually this is up Table Mountain).

The badges achieved this term include astronomy, pet badges, geology, creative writing, photography and helping hands.

A few children also received their certificate of appreciation – this is awarded to children who have shown dedication and commitment for more than three years.

Earning a badge is quite an achievement, and is recognised at a ceremony at the end of the second and fourth term of each year.

Other badges are first aid, wild animal observations, zoology, botany, insect collection, birding and nature artist, to name a few.

For more information, contact Wenday at 021 855 1509, or email wendy@eco-rangers.co.za, or call Andreas at 082 344 1096, or visit www.eco-rangers.co.za