Cultivating Eco-Warriors: Weedbuster Programme at St Mary’s RC Primary School

In collaboration with the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), we recently hosted an inspiring Weedbuster Programme with the Gr 6 learners of St Mary’s RC Primary School in Retreat.  The theme “Protecting Biodiversity” aimed to foster a deep appreciation for the local flora and ecosystems.

The programme commenced with an exploration of the significance of Fynbos and the broader Cape Floristic Region. The learners were introduced to the myriad benefits that biodiversity, particularly Fynbos, offers to people. The educational journey then transitioned to an engaging wetland model activity, unraveling the mysteries of these vital ecosystems and highlighting their role as natural water filters.

A focal point of the Weedbuster Programme was raising awareness about the threats posed to biodiversity, with a special emphasis on the menace of invasive alien plants. The students delved into the negative impacts of these intruders on the delicate ecological balance, learning various methods to combat the spread of invasive species.

The programme unfolded with numerous highlights, providing students with unique and memorable learning experiences. From discovering medicinal plants and engaging their senses by tasting and smelling these fascinating flora to differentiating between alien and invasive alien plants, the students were actively involved in hands-on activities that enriched their understanding of local ecosystems.

The wetland exploration activity encouraged students to match animals to their habitats, enhancing their comprehension of the intricate relationships within ecosystems. Witnessing the practical role of wetlands as natural water filters left a lasting impression on the young minds, connecting them more deeply to the importance of environmental conservation.

An exciting scientific exploration involved the use of microscopes to identify alien plants. This hands-on experience allowed students to closely examine the characteristics of invasive species, fostering a deeper appreciation for the complexity of plant life.

Tersia Minnaar, a teacher at St Mary’s RC Primary School, expressed her gratitude for the enriching experience, stating, “The learners had such a great learning experience, and we know that they will remember everything you taught them. We have always been working with Nature Connect’s Sustainable Schools team; they always do so much for our learners, and now we are grateful to SANBI for coming to our school as well. We are looking forward to working with both organisations for the same programme next year.”

The Weedbuster Programme not only delivered valuable knowledge but also sowed the seeds of environmental stewardship in the hearts and minds of these learners.



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