Bridging the knowledge gap

The organisations helping you and your family learn more about the environment

When was the last time you used algebra? Or recalled the elements on the periodic table? Okay, we'll admit, although most of us didn't enjoy maths and science, they're pretty crucial parts of the education system that won't be leaving the classroom anytime soon. However, as we pass the baton to the younger generations to save our planet from global warming, shouldn't we at least arm them with as many educational tools as possible? Of course, they will learn the basics, but we've rounded up a few of the top organisations helping those who want to go the extra mile to tackle the issues that our world faces.

Forest Schools

Let the kids embark on an outdoor adventure with Forest Schools, the nature-based communities that celebrate being out in the open. Based in woodland spaces, every day is a blank canvas which encourages the exploration of senses, while focusing on the physical and emotional wellbeing of each student. Sessions are run by a team of nature lovers, who are enthusiastic about passing on their knowledge to the younger generations.

Each experience is learner-led, which gives children the freedom to follow their own interests. Forest Schools not only help children to learn about nature, but through exploring and discovering on their own, they gain beneficial tools that will help them later in life, when they venture out into the community on their won. Kids will learn a host of skills, including how to plant trees, build shelters and to look after the great outdoors in general. A Forest School education provides a life-long impact, which will embed meaningful experiences kids can carry throughout their lives, allowing them to pass on the knowledge and passion they have for the environmental community to others.

Forest Schools aim to make each of their members feel valued, while encouraging them to connect with nature and their community. To do this, they focus on nurturing each individual's potential, by carefully monitoring how they can make their experience as meaningful as possible. Forest Schools states: "In developing the community, we nuture a culture based on collaboration and of embracing challenges so that we can allow, over time, for the blossoming of character, resilience and empathy, and for a greater sense of connection with nature and for our shared future." forestschools.com

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Young People's Trust For The Environment

Founded back in 1982, Young People's Trust For The Environment is a charity that helps children and teenagers develop their understanding of the natural world. The organisation focuses on encouraging members to become aware of the issues that our planet faces, such as deforestation, biodiversity loss, pollution and climate change. The overall aim is to provide a guide to equip members with the tools they need to shape a sustainable future.

Young children are given bitesize information through videos, fun images and fact sheets online, to encourage their curiosity, while educating them about environmental issues. The organisation also supports teen development, as it provides educational, entertaining materials to read and watch. For both age groups, the information provided assists with independent learning, while also supporting the educational system. There is also a section of the website specifically reserved for teachers for who want to ensure their pupils fully understand the issues that our planet faces. These include lesson plans, which are divided up by year groups.

Young People's Trust For The Environment states: "All our materials aim to provide balanced views to take into account the realities of the modern world. Sustainable development - industry with less impact - is the way forward." The organisation is a great tool for both teachers and parents who want to encourage their children to learn more about the planet, but it is also a safe platform for children to explore on their own, if they wish. ypte.org.uk

Earthwatch

By bringing individuals from all walks of life together to work with world-class scientists, Earthwatch helps to teach people how to look after the planet. The non-profit environmental organisation aims to improve scientific understanding while inspiring individuals to pioneer knowledge and research. Earthwatch is a global organisation, with a mission to ‘engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education and to promote the understanding and actions necessary for a sustainable environment.’

The research conducted spans all global issues, from climate change to human-wildlife coexistence, while also supporting and engaging with local communities. Volunteers help the research scientists achieve their goals, while assisting with outcomes that advance conservation, which can involve tracking water pollution, carbon dioxide tests or discovering knowledge gaps in existing species. Although this organisation is mainly aimed at adults, there are student and teen expeditions available, and children are encouraged to get involved with hands-on science – so far, more than 1,000 kids have attended their Discover Earth roadshow days. Earthwatch also works with teachers and students to ensure they have the information needed to take action and save the planet. To get involved with Earthwatch, individuals can donate, fundraise or join a project on the website. The Earthwatch UK headquarters are in Oxford, however, there are offices around the world in India, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia and the United States. earthwatch.org

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Plant-For-The-Planet

Even from a young age, we’re taught the importance of trees – they provide the oxygen we breathe and are one of the only natural ways to remove carbon dioxide from the air. But, unfortunately, billions are still cut down every year. Plant-For-The-Planet is a global organisation initiated after nine-year-old Felix Finkbeiner was inspired by Wangari Maathai – a man who planted 30 million trees in Africa over 30 years. Felix adapted this vision, aspiring for children across the world to plant 1 million trees in each country, to offset CO2 emissions. As each tree binds an intake of 10kg of CO2 each year, Felix is passionate about planting as many trees as possible, while many adults are still talking about doing so.

On March 9th 2018, 30 company representatives and VIPs, signed a declaration for Plant-For-The-Planet to plant a trillion trees across the globe. Now, the cause is still going strong, and many of the children involved are striving to become ambassadors for Climate Justice, while passing their knowledge to other children along the way. As Plant-For-The-Planet is a global organisation, it’s easy for kids all over the world to get involved, by heading to their website and signing up to join the 75,000 children who are already active members. Memberships and sponsorships can also be bought at the website too, which also has a specific page to guide adults on how they can get involved. plant-for-the-planet.org