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Environmental Education

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The Don Oso Education Program

In October 2011, FCT published Spanish-language curricular materials, Don Oso visits my school. The 130-page book is composed of seven units that convey information about the life history of the Andean bear, ongoing threats to its conservation, and its ecological importance. Each unit includes classroom and take-home activities for fourth through seventh graders. ¨These hands-on materials aim to educate a future generation of land stewards about the importance of local ecosystems, giving them information and tools to protect endangered species like the Andean bear¨ relates author Renata Márquez. FCT and ten community park guards developed the materials
for use by school teachers, environmental educators, park guards, and community leaders.


Hello girls and boys! My name is Don Oso and I´m an Andean bear. Want to learn more about the places I live and the food I eat? Let´s go!

Introduction
Unit 1: Bears of the world
Unit 2: The Andean bear and its relationship with communities
Unit 3: Andean bear habitat
Unit 4: Andean bear biology
Unit 5: Ecological importance of the Andean bear
Unit 6: Researching the Andean bear
Unit 7: Main threats to the Andean bear
Glossary of terms
Bibliography and Credits

Teacher Activity Guide

Our Philosophy

FCT believes that long-term environmental change rests on access to a strong science-based education that strengthens the bond between people and their local environment. The ultimate goal of our environmental education program is to replace conservation stewards from outside the community with those from within. 

Ten years of experience in environmental education has led FCT to gradually refine the methodology we use to achieve our goal. We developed our current environmental education program based on our recent work with the Green Schools Program, coupled with a desire to develop a curriculum that more aptly responds to local conservation problems and identifies viable solutions.

From 2008-2010, FCT implemented the Green Schools Program, developed by the Flemish Association for Development Cooperation and Technical Assistance and approved by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education. Unlike previous education programs in the area, which targeted students and teachers exclusively, the Green Schools Program recognizes the role of parents as an integral part of the educational community. The Program also emphasizes an interdisciplinary conservation curriculum equally stressing science, writing, and math as critical skills for future conservation stewards.

FCT's work with the Green Schools Program, as well as other experiences in the design and implementation of environmental education programs, brought us to the firm conclusion that in order for a program to be effective, it must better respond to local realities. Thus, FCT's current environmental education program borrows the Green Schools Program's holistic and rigorous approach while integrating results from our ongoing Andean bear research and water quality monitoring programs, thereby directly involving the educational community in local conservation research and actions. Moreover, we focus on developing long-term programmatic stability by training local people—park guards as well as teachers and parents—as scientists and later educators. 

Our experience to date suggests that this link between field scientists, local park guards and the educational community is providing the training and experience crucial to a future generation of community conservation leaders.  

University scholarship awarded

In August 2009, FCT worked with CELEC-Hidropaute E.P. to award a 4-year college scholarship to Alesandra Calle, from the town of San Vicente. One of the area's first high school graduates, Alesandra began studying biology and conservation in fall 2009 at the University of Azuay in Cuenca. With your help and generous contributions, we hope to be able to award more scholarships in coming years.

 

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