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The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows
Sydney J. Harris
Education is the cornerstone of any conservation organisation, and it is firmly embedded in both Earthrace Conservation’s mission statement and its vision.
Raising awareness globally about marine conservation issues is the first step to achieving a lasting change that will benefit the marine environment as well as helping to protect and preserve all the creatures who live in our oceans and seas.
Put simply, life on earth cannot survive without healthy oceans.
To give just one example, whales play a crucial role in helping to reduce the effects of climate change, facilitating the growth of algae by fertilising it with their faeces; algae then absorb CO2, thus acting as a carbon sink.
Increasing populations of whales and krill will therefore have a positive feedback effect on the productivity of the entire oceanic ecosystem, and would also play an important role in global climate regulation.
Unfortunately, whales have been subjected to such severe over harvesting throughout the twentieth century that the reverse now occurs.
Education at Earthrace Conservation (ECO) takes many forms, from providing fact sheets to educators and others simply wanting to teach or learn, to promoting activities that complement our own and enable individual and group participation.
Manatee Defence Workshops
Our education mission will continue to grow and evolve as the organisation does. Already, existing projects include ‘Manatee Defence Workshops’ in Florida, US which are being run in conjunction with Selkie Society. http://theselkiesociety.org/2011/08/15/manatee-defense-workshop-2012/
At the workshops, people learn about the species in the wild in order to better understand these gentle creatures and discover more about the perils such as boat strikes, net entanglement and poaching, encountered by them not only in the US but in places like the Amazon, Caribbean, West Africa and the Gulf of Mexico.
Other members of the order Sirenia, are sea cows, and dugongs, which are also under threat. In Australia, Earthrace is working with other NPO's to address the threat from poachers and aboriginal hunting. Read more about this campaign http://new.earthrace.net/hunting.
Turtles of Trinidad
We’ve already begun creating a buzz around our first ‘on the ground’ mission in Trinidad, working with the Trini Eco Warriors to end the legal slaughter of the endangered and vulnerable sea turtles that visit Trinidad and Tobago. http://new.earthrace.net/trinidad
Sharks and dolphins
Other examples where education will form an integral part of our missions and campaigns are shark finning, and the plight of Maui’s dolphins, a species indigenous to a small area around New Zealand's North Island threatened with imminent extinction, with only an estimated 110 left.
Working in partnership
Crucially, ECO Education endeavours to involve local people and existing organisations wherever it works. Our role is not to reproduce what already exists, but to add value, creativity and impact. We’re happy to work in partnership with others who feel we can add value, or where we feel that their expertise can assist us.
Junior Activist Club
Another important educational tool for the under-18s is the Earthrace Conservation Junior Activists’ Club. Currently run mainly through face book, it provides early marine conservation education at an appropriate entry level.
It uses a mix of video, photos and links to activities and learning that encourage young people worldwide to take responsibility for, and ownership of, what is after all their future.