There are 16 Northern Kenya Conservation Clubs and they include a number of primary and secondary schools throughout Laikipia county. These clubs meet one day a week after school during the school term. Their goal is to raise student awareness of the natural world around them and the need to take care of the land and wildlife.
To make the lessons more memorable to students the activities are very much hands-on and include games that teach concepts, drawing and writing. The learning is designed to be fun and different, so students go home and talk to their families and share what they have learnt at the conservation club.
Since this style of teaching is quite unique from what our club teachers are used to, a teacher workshop is held every January to help teachers understand what experiential (hands-on) learning is and how to carry out the activities. Most importantly, the teachers also take the role of students to better see what makes the activities fun.
When and how did the NKCC begin?
The Northern Kenya Conservation Clubs were started as an outgrowth of Dan Rubenstein’s research on Grevy’s Zebra in Samburu. Dan and his team hired three scouts in each community to collect data. Every year Dan and his colleagues would go to the communities to share what was learned from the data, going afterwards into the local primary schools to teach a lesson on conservation biology. One of the head teachers wanted to know how the lessons could continue when Dan wasn’t there. Thus the idea of the conservation clubs was conceived.
Dan and his wife Nancy, a teacher, along with educators from the Saint Louis and San Diego zoos held a workshop with local teachers and members from each group ranch to determine what the curriculum should include. In 2009, the first year, there were clubs in four primary schools: at Mpala, Il Motiok, Naiperere, and Ewaso. They were selected since these were schools in the communities where Dan was conducting research. Since then the club has grown to include 16 different schools.
While Dan and Nancy are the co-founders of NKCC, there are club staff members, including Mpala’s Wilson Nderitu who is the club coordinator, Ayub Kingori and Mpala’s Everlyn Ndinda (club supervisors). Ayub and Everlyn get out to the clubs regularly to help keep the lessons and activities going.
Community Conservation Day
Every year, on a Saturday in July, a Community Conservation Day is held at the most centrally located school. All the clubs attend, and the community is invited. It is a day of learning and sharing. There is an environmental fair, in which every club has a display about a conservation project at their school or a topic they have been learning about. Each club makes a presentation — a poem, play or activity that they have worked on. Over 400 students attend, and it is a fun day for all.
Achievements of the conservation clubs in recent years
• All of the clubs visited Mpala, Ol Lentille, Ol Jogi or Loisaba Conservancies this year and were inspired by the conservation projects they saw and learned about.
• Wilson and Everlyn have instituted conservation lessons and activities during the school holidays for students.
• Students in the Mpala and Shiloh Naibor clubs have been working on biocontrol efforts, of the invasive plant Opuntia.