Engaging Children in Nature Conservation

June 21, 2019

FFN follower Judith Algra asked one of the winning questions at the 2019 FFN Award Event and with this question she won one of Russell A. Mittermeier’s books! 2019 FFN Winner Olivier Nsengimana took the time to give a very inspiring answer to the question: “What would you like to teach children in order for them to get engaged in nature conservation?”

My Childhood

As a child, growing up in a rural village in Rwanda, I was always immersed in nature. I loved it. My toys and my entertainment were those I would find in nature – we would build houses with mud, make cars with empty containers and bottle tops, jump in streams, climb trees, watch small animals and insects, find bi rds’ nests and watch chicks hatch.

Stay in Balance

These days, with many children growing up in towns and cities, exposed to television and smart phones, life is changing. Many kids in Kigali city no longer know where milk comes from and some have never even seen a cow. I think this is the same all over the world. While of course we should embrace technology and the advances it brings, we also need to remember to stay in balance with our environment. When you are less connected to it and less aware of how reliant we are on it, it is easy to forget, to misuse it or abuse it.

The Future Generation of Nature Conservationists

So, I see a huge potential of engaging children in nature conservation, reconnecting them with their surroundings and allowing them to see how important the natural environment is. At Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association, we invest a lot in working with children and youth, inspiring them to love and protect nature as they will be our future generation of conservationists.

We Can All Make a Difference

My main message to children is spend time in nature, enjoy it, explore it. Take time to understand it and notice how everything around us is in a careful balance. If we take too much or don’t give enough back, it will become out of balance and things start to go wrong. We can all make a difference; we can all take small steps to protect the environment that is around us and keep it in balance.