Haribon's Philippine Eagle workshop for teachers a success
The teachers were asked to draw what they believed a forest which is suitable for the Philippine Eagle would look like.
This week, Haribon, the Philippines' pioneering environmental organization, successfully concluded a biodiversity conservation workshop together with one of our society's most important sectors – the teachers. At the two-day activity, Haribon brought together elementary and high school science mentors from General Nakar, Quezon, with the hope that the activity made for them will build their capacity to develop nature education lessons and programs for their schools and communities, especially on the country's national raptor, the Philippine eagle(Pithecopaga jefferyi).
The workshop for teachers, held on April 4 and 5 at the Agos River Resort in Infanta, Quezon is under Haribon's Philippine eagle Project, which is just one of the organization's main foreign-funded thrusts toward biodiversity conversation. For many years now, Haribon has been working on conservation sites in General Nakar and the Mt. Irid-Angilo area to conduct site action activities. Haribon's biologists and subject matter experts took charge of the latest workshop.
An essential outcome of the project is that elementary and high school science teachers from General Nakar would be including more biodiversity conservation and Philippine eagle topics in their lesson plans so that younger Filipinos will have an early exposure to the beauty and importance of life in all its forms.
General Nakar lies within the Mount Irid-Angilo Important Bird Area. The mountains are a southern extension of the Sierra Madre mountain range and one of the identified ares where the Philippine eagle soars. But sightings of the Philippine eagle there have been rare and it is unknown.
One idea for a learning activity is creating slogans
for Philippine Eagle conservation.
The Philippine eagle, our national bird and the symbol of Haribon's striving in the work of biodiversity conservation, is classified as a “Critically Endangered” species. One of the largest raptors in the entire world, a cohabiting pair requires at least 20 square kilometers of forest where it catches its food like snakes and medium to large mammals such as flying foxes and cloud rats. But because the Philippines is fastly losing its forests, Philippine eagle numbers are diminishing. Biologists thus consider the eagle a good indicator of the state of the country's forest cover. Based on the lowest estimates, there are now only about 200 individual eagles left.
But at the workshop, the teachers, that came from 19 schools over the General Nakar town, were inspired to do something about the plight of the Philippine eagle and of biodiversity in general in the country. By making them a part of timely, relevant, engaging and fun discussions, our “mams” and “sirs” when we were kids were given a refresher on these crucial issues. The teachers met fellow teachers, together put on their thinking caps for group activities in conservation, and drafted lesson plans just right after hearing talks on topics such as “Making a motivating lesson plan.”
The highlight of the workshop was when the teachers themselves delivered these lesson plans through teaching demonstration activities with the entire group as their audience, or “students.” Through this activity, new ideas and strategies were forged to come up with model lesson plans on biodiversity conservation and on the Philippine eagle that other teachers can use.
“After what happened to us in 2004, we have been more exposed to environmental issues. We here in General Nakar are really concerned about our environment. But not everyone wholeheartedly participates. That is why there is a need for advocacy and especially campaigns. We need activities like this,” said Marilyn Francia, Master Teacher II at General Nakar Central School who teaches Grade 3 pupils. Ms. Francia was referring to landslides and flash floods in Quezon, Aurora and Nueva Ecija that ended with 1,300 people dead or missing, and that hit Quezon (and General Nakar in particular) the hardest.
Haribon staff discussing about the conservation
status of the Philippine Eagle
“This event is very informative. This will really help us in integrating with our lessons. The content of the two-day activity, from the overview of biodiversity up to the end, really allows us teachers to know what our role is and how we can help,” said Mayla Vicencio (Teacher III), Ms. Francia's co-teacher at the same school, teaching Grade 5 and also a workshop participant.
Ms. Francia, also the district field adviser for the Girl Scout, and Ms. Vicencio, her counterpart for science, are already talking with each other about how to include more biodiversity and Philippine eagle activities through their organizations, with the possibility of tapping the Department of Education-mandated Youth for Environment in School Organization (Yes-O).
After this successful activity, Haribon plans to work along with other concerned agencies such as the Department of Education to see whether the tools imparted with teachers indeed are translated into more fruitful nature education lessons and programs for the kids.