Published: 06th August 2020
How EcoEdu is giving students the academic brush with nature our colleges and schools so desperately need
Ulhas Anand, the co-founder of EcoEdu speaks about their activities on nature that are not just limited to group discussions but include actual field visits that keep the children intrigued
When Ulhas Anand worked in the US, one of the things that intrigued him was the way environmental education was imparted to its students. When he returned to India, the first thing he did was visit schools in Bengaluru, asking children to describe the environment or nature around them to judge their understanding. And children would either describe it through pollution or deforestation. "I wanted to change this perception among them and teach them to appreciate whatever exists around us," says Ulhas. That's why he, along with other like-minded people T S Srinivasa and Ravindran S, started EcoEdu in 2012, to provide quality environmental education to school and college kids, corporates and even hobbyists.
When we checked out EcoEdu's programmes, we found them to be quite interesting, with some of them specially designed for children. Their team has associated with several schools and colleges over the past eight years to provide various educational programmes on a regular basis. Ulhas explains, "When I was in the US, I observed that there were many organisations that involved children actively in various activities related to the environment and nature. According to me, children must be familiar with whatever exists around us. Only then, can we start working towards conserving it. To achieve this, we conduct classroom activities as well as field activities. While the classroom activities are suitable to the curriculum, the field activities are more interesting and they include a number of walks - creepers and climbers walks, lake walks, ant walks, bird walks, Christmas tree walks, avenue tree walks - talks, workshops and camps. These are conducted by particular subject specialists who have more than two decades of experience, studying and experiencing the same in this city."
What makes EcoEdu a hit among the college crowd are their credit courses that not only earn them some extra credits but also a good amount of knowledge which they can later turn into a hobby. One such course, which has been running for close to ten years at Mount Carmel College in Bengaluru, is in Ornithology. "When we touch upon the biology of birds, we also tell them about the native species that one must have seen somewhere in the city. These walks are to encourage individuals to observe, collect data, understand and document the diversity of life, etc," says Ulhas who has now turned to the online medium to deliver talks related to nature.
However, all these outdoor activities have come to a halt due to the pandemic. But that hasn't taken EcoEdu's eyes off the prize. The organisation has been doing something interesting to continue the education through books. "We are bringing out a book on spiders, written by S Karthikeyan, a chief naturalist, which will be an interesting read for both children and adults. The book is in the final stage of editing and we hope to launch it soon. It covers over 200 varieties of spiders that one can find in Bengaluru. Aside from this, we have also released a Kannada book on the avenue trees in Bengaluru. Discover Avenue Trees was written in English by Karthikeyan and it was later translated to Kannada as Namma Parisara Saalumaragalu by Srinivasa. We decided to translate it as there are already many such books in English but children studying in Kannada-medium schools don't get exposure to such books. We decided to give away these translated books for free to school children in the coming academic year," he concludes.