The nature club for children
The ECO-Rangers is a private nature club (not affiliated to the Friends) for children and parents who want to learn about, explore and protect our natural heritage. They meet weekly during school terms. During these meetings the Environmental Education Officer would give a presentation on the topic, followed by a practical session. During the term the ECO-Rangers would normally go on two outings, and during the holidays camps and outings are also arranged.
Under the guidance of the Environmental Education Officer – a professional environmental educator and field guide – the group learns about, and explores topics such as:
- Animal life
- Water life
- Seashore life
- Map reading
The group undertakes projects such as:
- River rehabilitation
- Planting trees
- Bird ringing
- Setting up exhibitions
- Building owl boxes
- Collecting insects
- Rock collecting
The ECO-Rangers club was started in July 2009 by Claudia Schuster, a nature lover, and Andreas Groenewald, the Environmental Education Officer at the Environmental Education Centre at the Helderberg Nature Reserve in Somerset West.
Research shows that children need connections with the natural world as an integral part of their healthy growth and development – both physically and mentally – and even socially. Disconnection from nature is leading to increased problems such as childhood obesity, dislike and even fear of the outdoors, and even an increase in behavioural issues. To preserve our natural heritage and to lead a healthy life, we need people caring, knowing and enjoying nature. In answer to this, the ECO-Rangers facilitate the opportunity for children and their parents to connect with nature.
Says Claudia: “I’ve always enjoyed being in nature. As a child I grew up on a forestry farm. As a student, I was an active member of Exploratio, the Pretoria University hiking club. Later I joined the Magaliesberg mountain club. We moved down to the Cape and through our children we got into contact with Andreas Groenewald at the Helderberg Nature Reserve. He opened my eyes to how much there is to see while being in nature. Now I am much more aware of every plant, the stones etc. Our children enjoy hiking much more if Andreas leads a walk. It’s amazing how keen they are to explore when they are in this group. They learn so much from him and I’m sure this will influence them for the rest of their lives.”
Membership is open to all children and parents who want to reconnect with nature. At the moment the group caters for Primary School children and their parents. Present members come from schools in the Helderberg and Stellenbosch areas.
Membership is R250 per term. A part of this is used to pay the Environmental Education Centre and the rest goes towards materials and equipment for the Club.
Non-members can join in the outings and these events are billed separately.
We use e-mail to inform members and interested people about upcoming events. Kindly email us if you want to be included on the mailing list.
For contact details refer to the Information column to the right of the page.