​​​​​Nature and Students: Fostering Environmentally Friendly Value in Children

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EditQuote Text (Do not add quotation marks):We didn’t know before that paper was made from trees and garbage took a really long time to decompose.
EditQuote Attribution:said Roy Lamhot Sinamo.
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The quote was from Roy, a third-grader in Public Elementary School (SDN) 035944 Parongil Jehe, Tinada Sub-District, Pakpak Bharat District, North Sumatra Province, who attended an environmental awareness event for children in early age. From the event, the students of this school learned that protecting and conserving the nature were everyone’s responsibility.

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EditDescription:Students watches a film about nature.
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With forests constituting 80% of the district’s total area, community participation is a key to successful nature conservation. After all, the importance of West Pakpak forest is not limited to only biological diversity, but also its role as a source of income for the majority of the local communities.

Thus, raising awareness among the younger generations of what forests and the environment mean to them is critically important since early age. It would be basic knowledge for them to carry on the culture of protecting and conserving the nature, not only within their district, but wherever they are.

“We were taught to grow and take care of trees, both at home and in school,” said Roma Aprilia Padang, a third-grader of SDN Jambu Mbellang, Siempat Rube II Village, Siempat Rube Sub-District, Pakpak Bharat District.

Through Sustainable Agriculture Landscapes Partnership (SALP), Conservation International (CI) Indonesia has partnered up with numerous schools and students, engaging them to fully participate in these activities. The activities were conducted in SDN 030426 Lae Trondi and SDN 030414 Kecupak in 2015, and now in SDN 034816 Jambu Mbellang and SDN 035944 Parongil Jehe.

The educational activities were held three times in each shool by involving second and third-graders. The themes covered were forest and life, waste sorting, and water as the source of life. For the forest and life theme, the students were invited to plant fruit trees in their school, together with their homeroom teachers and headmasters, who also participated in the event.

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The Headmaster of SDN 034816 Jambu Mbellang, Saidup Manik, said that, "To date, the 10 longan, honey rose apple, and rambutan trees planted in January 2016 at our school are still very much alive and taken good care by our students."

To encourage and teach students to sort organic and inorganic waste, 12 waste bins were donated to SDN 030426 Lae Trondi and SDN 030414 Kecupak. A pair of waste bins were placed in each class for sorting purposes.

"We need to always remind the children to separate the dry and wet waste. But, at the end the sorted waste has to be mixed together again upon collection by the sanitary officer because there is no proper waste management for dry and wet waste," explained the Headmaster of SDN 030414 Kecupak, Nursiah Berutu.

The theme of water as the source of life was conveyed through a screening of a narrative film. It told a story about turtles and how their harmonious life with nature was ruined due to excessive logging.

There were also fun activities and games with picture books, which involved cutting and pasting, spotting the differences between similar pictures, coloring, etc. In addition, an educative funboard game was also very popular among the students. The game resembles snakes and ladders, but with an added social theme of 'Good and Bad Behaviors for the Environment'. The 1x1m board is to be played simultaneously by five persons, using a dice and five animal-shaped tokens.  If a player lands on a space denoting bad behavior, they have to move back, and vice-versa. Through this game, the students could learn about the examples of environmentally friendly and unfriendly behaviors.​

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EditDescription:A student makes a handprint as a commitment to protect nature.
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At the end of the session, all students and teachers made handprints as a sign of their commitment and willingness to conserve the environment and the nature of Pakpak Bharat.

Last April, during an educational visit, the third-graders of SDN 035944 Parongil Jehe said that they wished the activity would continue. "Visit us again, please, so we can learn and play games again", said Tampan Tumangger, one of the third-graders.

Sampetua Boang Manalu, the Secretary of the Educational Office of Pakpak Bharat District, shared the same wish. "We hope this activity would be extended to cover other Elementary Schools, so more students gain more knowledge about the environment," he said in August 2015. (Sarmaidah Damanik/June, 28​ 2016)