As part of an initiative to encourage young people to think about elephants, environment and conservation issues, we’re launching a new project called “A ConVersation about ConServation.” The first high school to participate was the Cambridge Ringe and Latin School in Cambridge, Massachusetts thanks to biology teacher Paul McGuinness and other enthusiastic teachers. CRSL is one of those rare schools to offer courses on environmental science and ecology as well, and the students, aged 15-17, were very interested in hearing about elephants.
We discussed the astonishing diversity of forms taken by elephants in their many millions of years of evolution, including Stegotetrabelodon a four-tusked creature that looks like it inspired the behemoths in a scene from the film ‘The Lord of The Rings.’ We also discussed elephant development, all the way from embryo to adult, and played an interactive guessing game trying to match elephant photographs. They saw photos and videos of research in the field, including veterinarians’ successful attempt at treating an injured calf, and finally learned about the challenges people face when living next-door to elephant habitat. There were lots of questions afterwards, and both teachers and students were eager to pay a visit to Sri Lanka! We hope they can indeed come some day.
Many of the students volunteered to participate in a letter-exchange program with Sri Lankan students. We will pair up this class with a counterpart in Sri Lanka. In addition to these classes in Massachusetts, we also have a group in New Jersey. This exchange of perspectives will help bridge two very different sets of young people who couldn’t be more distant, but who must nevertheless learn to understand one another to face the challenges of a new generation living in a globalized world.
*Update: Pen Pals page just launched. Go see it!