05 • 09 • 2017

A New School Year has Started in JSC "Latvia's State Forests" Environmental Education Programmes

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To encourage interest of children and young people about forests, each year JSC "Latvia's State Forests" (LVM) invites schools in Latvia to learn from and in the nature. Starting from pre-school kids and ending with university students and educators - everyone has the opportunity to go to Latvia's state forests and supplement the knowledge acquired in school with practical tasks carried out in the nature.

LVM offers environmental education programmes for different age groups. LVM eco-programme for kindergartens "Pigman's Detectives" (Cūkmena detektīvi) ensures playful learning about the forest for children aged 5 to 7 years. The aim of the programme is to encourage children to take responsibility for clean environment by raising awareness of things that are valuable, as well as those that are unwanted in the nature. Taking part in the programme, children together with their teachers step by step reveal various forest secrets, and the most active kindergartens are visited by Pigman himself.

Within the framework of the Mother Nature Master Class (Mammadaba meistarklase), students of grades 1-6 are encouraged to discover the nature as their best classroom. It is a continuous and comprehensive opportunity for schools to bring their learning process closer to the nature. The programme offers acquisition of traditional school subjects, such as mathematics and English, outdoors in the school yard or in Latvia's state forests. Schools that have been involved both in this and other LVM programmes qualify for the title of a "Mother Nature Embassy " and acquisition of a Mastery Forest.

The 6th graders of general education schools have the opportunity to study sciences in the forest heading for adventurous expeditions. Expeditions take place in the vicinity of the major cities of Latvia every September. During the rest of the school year, students can visit the three permanent LVM educational establishments: Latvia's State Forest Nature Park in Tērvete, Latvia's State Forest Kalsnava Arboretum and Latvia's State Forest Vijciems Cone Drying Facility.

For several years already, 7th-9th grade students are given the opportunity to take part in the LVM Forest Olympics, where winners each year head for a nature expedition abroad.

In order to raise awareness of the growing role of forest resources in solving environmental problems, LVM in cooperation with the society "Zaļās mājas" and the National Centre for Education invites secondary school students to participate in the scholarship contest "LVM Bio-economy School", where in three rounds school students explore and solve issues relating to the innovative sector of bio-economy.

There is also a scholarship contest for university students. The purpose of the contest is to support the growth of specialists and promote education in forest management related fields. A special training programme is arranged for the scholarship holders where they can learn about the practice of sustainable forest management in the state forests.

Teachers who are involved in the activities of the LVM School Programmes are invited to participate in the special annual continuing education courses. Curricula of the programmes are coordinated with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia and aim at encouraging school teachers to involve the forest as a research object more intensively in the study process.

LVM has been providing environmental education at schools already since 2005, with around 20 000 children participating annually. These projects are implemented in co-operation with the National Centre for Education and the Foundation for Environmental Education, involving partners from both the Latvian and the European forestry sector. Based on more than ten years of experience in working with schools, and following the recommendations of the National Centre for Education and internationally recognised forest pedagogy practices, LVM has developed its Forest Management Guidelines for general education schools in Latvia. These guidelines provide for a regular improvement and development of the school programmes. Application forms, programme regulations, study materials and additional information are available at www.lvm.lv/skolam.