An opportunity to connect with nature

Children aged 7 to 11 are invited to embrace the role of a nature guardian with BirdLife Malta this spring. Mark Gauci shares some details about the course.
Photos: BirdLife Malta

Over the past weeks BirdLife Malta’s third Nature Guardians course came to an end with a graduation ceremony held after the 12th and final session.

The question I always look forward to is when the children are asked which parts they enjoyed more. You can notice the excitement and sparkle in their eyes as they scramble through their memories and recollections of all the outdoor activities organised and invariably all these activities are somehow mentioned.

This gives me such a profound satisfaction that the course was indeed a success enabling us to reach our goals of sensibilising and educating more these children towards nature, all while having fun in a safe environment outdoors.

This is why, despite needing a small break from the positive energy these children transmitted for 12 consecutive weeks in autumn 2023, we are already gearing up to go again this spring with our fourth Nature Guardians Warden for a Day course, again aimed at children aged seven to 11 years.

This course will start in early March and run for 12 consecutive Saturday mornings with a single break for the Easter weekend.

The course is tailored in such a way that the group will get to enjoy visiting and working in four different sites, namely Għadira, Simar, Foresta 2000 and Salina Nature Reserves.

Each session focuses on a particular species of local flora and fauna. Not only is this course about learning but it is mostly about getting one’s hands dirty. In fact, we sow seeds, we plant trees, we build insect hotels, we create hedgehog boxes, we sample water, we collect salt and we learn how to use the telescope and the microscope. All this while making new friends and enjoying the wonderful colours our spring can offer.

Each course accommodates a small group of children, capped at a maximum of 12, ensuring individual attention for everyone. Our experienced leaders will make sure that dynamics of the group are always positive, and a healthy environment is fostered.

Teamwork is dreamwork and our experience with such courses shows that the individuals soon become friends forming a close-knit team. We emphasise the importance of this with one of the sessions specifically planned about ants, who are known for their teamwork efforts.

For simplicity sake, the meeting point is always Salina Nature Reserve. Armed with an informative booklet outlining the upcoming sessions, work gloves and Nature Guardian-branded T-shirts, caps or hoodies, the children get hands-on experience in managing a nature reserve. Birdwatching and exploring the fascinating migration patterns of birds are also integral parts of the agenda.

Upon completion of the course, a graduation ceremony is organised, where children are presented with certificates, officially declaring them as graduated Nature Guardians.

However, the true impact lies not in the certificate but in the invaluable experience the children gain through their interaction with nature – a known contributor to their well-being, offering a respite from the stresses of traffic, schoolwork, computers and social media.

If you’re interested in applying for the Nature Guardians spring 2024 course, you can do so through this link. The application deadline is Tuesday, February 13, or earlier if fully booked.

For additional programme details, including a session calendar and content overview, click here. Also, don’t miss the photo library and different videos we have, showing what true fun this course is. More information is also available on the Facebook event.

For any inquiries, feel free to e-mail us at mark.gauci@birdlifemalta.org.

We strongly encourage you to seize this opportunity and apply for the course, enabling your children to become more conscious and enthusiastic about protecting our natural environment, a key element in securing their future.

Mark Gauci is BirdLife Malta head of land management.

You can learn more about the environment and the world around us through the BirdLife ongoing series of articles on X2. More Child stories are available here.

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