Youth Environment Services training programme

(We just abbreviate it to the YES)

WESSA, W Cape is implementing the Dep of Environmental Affairs (DEA) funded year long training programme, Youth Environmental Services. This programme was rolled out in Cape Town, George and the Overberg in January this year. This 3 year programme accepts a new intake for 2013 and 2015. The total programme will benefit 300 youth and their host organisations. The focus of the course is to provide work place experience together with course work, both accredited and unaccredited. The beneficiaries, who receive a training allowance for each day at the work place or on course, have recently completed 6 weeks of unaccredited course work, workshops and professional development. The majority of the 25 beneficiaries in George are resident in Thembalethu, with a few from Pacaltsdorp, Touwsranten, Conville, Parkdene and Borcherds. 

The Garden Route Botanical Garden is an excellent venue for learning about the environment. Module 4 focuses on managing problem plants. The students learned about identifying alien plants, different methods of removing them and maintenance and storage of the equipment. They used posters and playing cards for identifying the alien invasive plants:

Vernon Gibbs-Hall of Eden District Municipality and Dayne de Wet of the GRBG assisted WESSA during the interview process. We were also supported by Colin Ralston, our branch committee chairman and Cingiswa Mtabati, a fellow trustee at the GRBG. To date, WESSa has been able to find host organisations for some of the beneficiaries. Our thanks go to Eden district Municipality and the GRBG who have each undertaken to mentor 5 beneficiaries. The George Sports Academy continues to host 2 of the past students who are now giving back to the programme and mentoring the next group of high school learners. Outeniqua Tree Farm indicated their interest in mentoring a group of 5. This leaves us needing to place another 8, at least, with host organisations. Conservation organisations and municipalities approached have been unable to commit as they are under-staffed or already mentoring students.

During the past 6 weeks, the beneficiaries were introduced to the natural environment through a variety of programmes. These included participation in the WESSA organised World Wetlands Day event at the GRBG. Their introduction to alien vegetation and litter clean-ups was consolidated back in the meeting room where board games were played and education resource materials were used to find out more about wetlands and plants and animals. Activities included enviro picture building games, group work, mini-research projects in the communities and developing a code of conduct to prepare them for the workplace. Elmine Vorster welcomed the group to the George Library where she introduced all to the excitement and job of researching a topic. Lynne Thompson and Monica Vaccaro took the group to the archives of the George Museum where they were presented with a research project to consolidate their new found information. The YES participants also visited Glenwood House where the environmental club learners and Mrs Clare van Rensburg gave them an informative tour of the school wetland and the development of it. the YES participants were assisted in building model aquifers from plastic bottles, to check the function of wetlands and see whose aquifer cleaned the ‘polluted’ water best. The group completed module 1 of the accredited course on 4 and 5 March which focused our natural environment. A tour of the southern Cape biomes in the GRBG was contrasted with the environmental degradation witnessed at a site in the Bo-Dorp. Discussions on sustainable development will be followed in the next module when they work with environmental management tools.

If you would like to take part in a learning experience at the GRBG contact us.

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