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Latvian Teachers Explore the Forest in a Summer Camp

Latvian Teachers Explore the Forest in a Summer Camp

Latvia, 29th August 2018
Author: Līga Abizāre, Latvia’s State Forests (LVM), Latvia

T o share experience and draw inspiration for the new school year, JSC "Latvia's State Forests" (LVM) invited 50 teachers from all over Latvia to participate in the annual three-day continuing education courses that take place in the open air. The teachers learned from both each other, as well as from forestry professionals how to promote student curiosity, creativity and competence in matters related to the forest.

On the first day, at a meeting that took place in the Ministry of Agriculture, Ringolds Arnītis, Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, and Liene Zeile, a representative of the National Centre for Education, delivered speeches and expressed their gratitude to the teachers for the work that they do. Kristaps Klauss, Executive Director of the Latvian Forest Industry Federation, told the participants about the situation in the forest sector and the latest trends.

In the second part of the day, teachers went to LVM Kalsnava Arboretum where they participated in the Green Backyard School performing tricky orienteering tasks. At the end of the day, in LVM Recreation and Tourism Centre EZERNIEKI, everyone was encouraged to take part in evening activities heading for an educational walk together with nature guide Māris Olte. Not only did they enjoy the beautiful sunset, badger burrows and exciting conversations about the relations between trees, they also found a rare species of moss, which turned out to be the Leucobryum moss (Leucobryum glaucum) - the moss of the year in Latvia. Of course, while in the woods, one cannot escape the breath-taking smell of marsh tea, which is to be found virtually everywhere.

Early next morning, the participants had an opportunity to enjoy birdwatching together with Latvian Bird Foundation ornithologists. The teachers could have a close view of several of the most widespread bird species in Latvia, including the white wagtail. Later, the teachers learned about the environmental education work at Riga Secondary School No. 49, as well as went on "dates" with each other, sharing their experiences. In the second part of the day, everyone boarded a bus to go deeper into the forest and discover how a forest is created in LVM Podiņi Nursery, closing the day with a walk along the fabled "Tīrumnieki" bog trail guided by environmental guide Anna Macāne.

The last camp day was devoted to the classes prepared by the teachers themselves on the topic "Forest for Latvia. The Next 100". The works were assessed by the teachers and presented to their colleagues working in smaller groups. The teachers also had an opportunity to listen to Jurģis Jansons, Director of the Latvian State Forest Research Institute "Silava", who held a lecture on the situation in the Latvian forests and on the future of forest management.

This year, the camp was attended by teachers of Mother Nature master schools – educational institutions that have earned the title of a "Mother Nature Embassy" for their active involvement in forest environmental education.

Participants shared their experiences at the end of the camp:

  • "I felt that I fit in, I was taken wonderful care of and I am very excited. I wanted to find out everything. I learned a lot, but at the same time I did not feel tired, like it often happens in courses of a similar type. On the contrary, you can relax and learn at the same time, since the courses take place in nature."
  • "The feelings are generally very positive. I've come home with a valuable "baggage", I have acquired knowledge, experience and more confidence in myself as a teacher. At first I felt a little scared because I am still new to my profession, but the seminar changed everything."
  • "Information that allowed us to get an idea of the forestry sector at a national level, the ideas offered by colleagues for new activities inside and outside school, various facts, tricks that interest children in order to replenish the stack of materials and knowledge to make classes more engaging and fun."
  • "Dispelling of delusions and myths, showing the true situation. An opportunity to look at the forest from another perspective - from the perspective of a forester. To be aware of the wealth of nature, potential for its preservation and importance in educating the younger generation."

Since its foundation in 1999, LVM by implementing sustainable forest management has paid one billion euros to state and local government budgets. LVM's economic activities are carried out by maintaining and recovering forests, taking care of nature conservation, recreation opportunities and increasing timber volumes, as well as investing in expanding the forest land and developing forest infrastructure - renovation of drainage systems and forest road construction. The volume of timber in the forests managed by LVM increases by 12 million cubic metres annually.