In the middle of the NamibRand Nature Reserve, surrounded by oryx and herds of zebra, an innovative program to educate youths about the natural environment has taken hold.
Viktoria Keding, the director of this program and a world-class environmental champion, will speak about her innovative work at the Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust (NaDEET) at the Center for Great Plains Studies Sept. 9 at 3:30 p.m.
Middle-school students visit NaDEET to learn to build and use solar cookers, make fire bricks from scrap newspaper, monitor their own water use and become more conscious of their environmental footprint. More than that, though, NaDEET equips them with practical solutions that they take back to their communities throughout Namibia and put to use.
Keding, an American, will speak about the camp and environmental education at her talk, “Teaching Sustainability in Namibia,” part of the Paul A. Olson Seminars in Great Plains Studies.
News from Africa is often dominated by disease, civil war, crime, poaching, declining animal numbers and corruption. But Namibia and neighboring Botswana have democratic governments, growing economies and a ferocious commitment to nature conservation. Here, animal populations are increasing, and there is a strong national sentiment that preserving biodiversity is crucial to the nation’s future, not least because it brings ecotourists who create jobs and growing incomes.
This ecotourism and nature education model may give those on the Great Plains (another semi-arid grassland) ideas about environmental education and sustainability programs in this region.