As part of the VolTerre project, close to 70 students of the CollÃ¨ge du LÃ©man (CDL), Switzerland, explored the Arboretum in Aubonne. The aim of the excursion was to raise awareness among youth about the environment, plants and sustainable development. The specific contribution of the youth was to map the Arboretum with Green MapÂ® (GSM), concept introduced in Switzerland by Earth Focus Foundation. As part of this communications project, students were also asked to describe their impressions of the field trip.
ICVolunteers initiated the VolTerre project as part of its activities linked to communications and sustainable development. It has played a leading role in the development of the project, mobilizing volunteers both for its preparation and implementation. ICVolunteers closely collaborated with the Earth Focus Foundation --a longstanding partner-- that introduced the Green Map concept in Switzerland.
On the morning of the outing, the weather was unseasonably cold, yet better than forecasted. There was no rain and even some sunshine coming through the clouds. One group of students described their impressions of the morning as follows: "It was a cold day, at the end of May. We arrived early morning at the Arboretum in order to create a Green Map. As we arrived, we were divided into groups and were given maps and a trail to walk on. As we walked, we placed icons on the map, photographers took pictures of the views and we, the journalists, took notes of what we observed. On our walk, we saw rivers, wetlands, great views, birds, bridges, flower, trees, mountains, and more. We also saw houses and a water dam."
And what did the students learn in all of this? "In this excursion, we learned about nature's beauty and why it must be preserved. We learned that, as it rains, water-loving creatures --such as snails and slugs-- come out, and birds hide in trees. We liked the trip, but we thought it was a bit tiring, cold and muddy." Another reporters summarized it by writing "It was a fun day. We learned and had a lot of interest in today's field trip." For Joshua Hawkins, Geography Teacher who had coordinated the VolTerre project on the side of CDL, the experience was a positive one too: "I would like to thank all the volunteers for giving up their time and energy, contributing to the learning experience of CDL pupils. It was a good day and we are all very grateful for your efforts. See you soon and we definitely look forward to making it a success again sometime in the future."
The project was brought to an end on the 19th of June when a small delegation of students and a CDL professor met at the Arboretum to plant some trees.
The five 'Japanese Hornbean' (Carpinius Japonica) financed by ICVolunteers through the money made at the BalÃ©lec festival, have a symbolic value and signify a commitment to keep working on environmental projects.
In the longer run, the VolTerre project aims to offer a range of opportunities to young people, be it with Green Map, sustainable development debates or tree planting in Switzerland, France, Spain and elsewhere, eventually associating African students in the tree planting and environmental awareness raising.
The following students contributed to the report: Curry Taylor (USA 15) and Veronica Castillo (Venezuela 14), Maha Bin Mussallam (Saudi Arabia 15), Dallas Moqhali (Lesotho 14), Sami Tarbush (USA 15), Idrissa Coulibaly (Mali 14), Julan Nyagiera (Zimbabwe 14), Zhen Xu (China 15)