Tell me and I will forget.
Show me and I will remember.
Involve me and I will understand.
Step back and I will act.
That is the creed of the Northern Kenya Conservation Clubs, which give kids hands-on lessons about the environment in the hope they will grow up to be knowledgeable stewards of their homeland. The idea for the clubs began as an after-school program at Mpala in 2008 and quickly grew into an education tool for raising schoolchildren’s awareness of the natural world. Kids are encouraged to carry their new knowledge to their homes and villages. Veering from the traditional “tell-me” style of Kenyan schools, the Conservation Clubs added “I will act” to the curriculum. Membership has grown from a few dozen students to hundreds, and the idea has produced a new network of conservationists. There are workshops for local teachers, a guide to what is labeled “experiential learning,” and schools stocked with books on the environment. Members are told to interview their parents and village elders to understand how Laikipia County has changed in recent times. Many adults tell of a key difference in the local environment: The large cattle herds of their youth have evolved into mixed herds of few cattle and abundant sheep and goats. “I tell my parents, ‘Conserve the environment!’,” says a club member at the clubs’ annual Community Conservation Day. He wears a yellow shirt emblazoned with the club insignia. Other kids show off their dioramas, posters, and science experiments. One display is about soil erosion that pupils found on the land around their school. The smiles on their faces reflect their pride in what they are learning and are a sign of hope for the future.
RIVER CAMP PRODUCTIONS: FILMMAKING BY KENYAN AND PRINCETON STUDENTS