January 25, 2011

Young Naturalist Workshops

Summer, 2011

Young Naturalists’ Workshops

What’s this all about?

With an exponential rise in the number of children inclined towards Nature, it is only logical that there exist more avenues for Children to learn about, interact with and experience the Natural World. Unfortunately, this isn’t true for most city dwelling children. Children seem to possess more information today than ever before but are unable to test their knowledge or hypotheses through experience. Consequently, they don’t actually learn much.
If experience and life are our best teachers, then it is only fair that we offer children the chance to learn about what they are passionate about through experiences that we bring to them.

This summer, The Gerry Martin Project (TGMP) will be running six ‘Young Naturalists’ Workshops’ at different locations, focusing on separate learning objectives from Rainforest Ecology to Large Game tracking.
1. Reptile Biology at The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (MCBT)
We will be working on reptile biology here, focusing on management of reptiles in captive conditions. There is also a very interesting field component to this program. We will be camping out at Romulus Whitaker’s farm and learning field techniques in reptile biology and we will also be heading out one morning with the legendary Irula Snake Catchers.
Children will get hands on experience by working with the staff and specialists at the Croc Bank as well as shadowing the Irulas during their snake hunt. Some of the topics addressed are Reptile Captive Management, Safety Protocols, Small Wildlife Tracking, Reptile Veterinary Care, Survey Techniques, Field Techniques in Crocodile Research, Snakebite First Aid Protocol, etc.
Dates- 18th to 22nd April 2011. Age bracket: 12 to 19 yrs.  

2. Rainforest Exploration at the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station

Known primarily for its heavy Monsoon, Agumbe is a unique example of lowland rainforest. ARRS was set up in 2005 by Romulus Whitaker to study and conserve king cobras in the region. Today, it has evolved into a full-fledged research station, focusing on multiple aspects of research, conservation and education.
On this workshop, children will gain field skills as young naturalists and experience the reality of research and conservation. 
They will develop skills in Canopy Access, Radio Telemetry, Game Tracking, Outdoor Survival, Camera Trapping, Survey Techniques Stream exploration and a lot more.
Dates- 11th to 15th April 2011. Age bracket: 10 to 16 yrs.

3. Nature Skills at Hunsur

In a world where children rarely get a chance to interact with the Natural World, it is no surprise that they find it hard to develop their Nature skills. This workshop will address this lack of exposure and give children a structured learning experience that will allow them to build their own context and skills. It will run at Ossie Martin’s farm on the banks of the Devikere lake in Rathnapuri village about ten kilometers from Hunsur.

Here, we will learn how to build hides, machaans, approach animals with stealth and efficiency, observe aquatic life, some basics in Nature photography, outdoor survival, tree climbing and a lot more. Kids will also learn basics in wilderness first aid including snakebite protocol, small game tracking and a lot more. This will be an intensive young Naturalists’ workshop that will be a perfect stepping stone for aspiring naturalists, biologists and conservationists. Gerry Martin and Conan Dumenil will run this workshop along with at least two support faculty members.

Dates- 4th to 8th April. Age Bracket- 9- 16 yrs.


4. Naturalist Skills at Romulus Whitaker’s

Rom Whitaker is a pioneer in reptile conservation and has been at the forefront of the field for around four decades. He founded the first snake park in India, the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, Andaman and Nicobar Environmental Team, Irula Snake Catchers’ Co-operative Society among many other achievements and endeavours.

Rom now lives on the edge of a reserve forest about an hour away from Chennai. He has set up a small campsite to allow enthusiasts to experience Nature and also build skills in field biology.
Gerry Martin will be taking a group of 18 kids over to Rom’s campsite to run them through the basics in field biology. They will learn outdoor skills, camera trapping, bio-statistics, reptile biology, bird watching and a lot more.
Dates- 11th to 15th April. Age bracket: 10 to 16 yrs.

5. Large Game and Bird Ecology at Jungle Retreat

Jungle Retreat is a resort, located on over thirty-five acres of reforested farmland adjoining the Mudumalai National Park. It is the perfect setting to help children learn the basics in wildlife tracking, birdwatching, outdoor survival and the like. There will also be activities like camera trapping, pug mark identification, wildlife safari, visit to the elephant camp, etc. It is a perfect workshop for children who are interested in nature and would like to experience real wilderness and wildlife of all kinds.
The program will be led by Conan Dumenil, who has had over three years of experience working as a naturalist in Corbett National Park.
Dates- 11th to 15th April. Age bracket: 10 to 16 yrs. 

6.The Andaman and Nicobar Environmental Team (ANET) field station.

Here, we will be running our Island Ecology Workshop. There will be a lot of exploration,
skill building and courses. Children will learn basics in Canopy Access, Snorkelling, Scuba Diving, Outdoor Survival, Nature Photography, etc. This is also a good time to encounter a lot of reptile species because of the intermittent pre-monsoon showers. Children will get a chance to understand and experience various species of reptiles, birds and small mammals in their habitats. There will also be a significant marine exploration aspect to the workshop where children will learn snorkeling and scuba diving under professional instructors.

Dates- 18th to 23rd April 2011. Age bracket: 12 to 19 yrs.

Each of the workshops will be led by a person with relevant skill and experience. There will be also be support faculty who will help children during the activities and see to their general wellbeing and safety. We will maintain an adult to child ratio of at least 1:5 where we will only count actual faculty on the program and not include other adults who work at the locations. All our faculty will be screened and have prior experience with children. 
We completely understand your trepidation about sending your children off on experiences like this. When it comes to safety, we keep a constant vigil on children to ensure that they don’t get hurt, physically or emotionally. The ratio of adults to children that we maintain ensures that children are never alone and unwatched. We also keep a keen eye out for interpersonal dynamics and will step in if any children are being bullied or put down.
Our equipment is all tested and cleared. Wherever necessary, we have certified and experienced instructors.

To register or to get more details, please get in touch with Conan on 9972068300 or email at conan@gerrymartin.in.