The Jóvenes Delfines: Secondary School Ecology Club
The Jóvenes Delfines emerged in 1998 as the first ecology club in the community thanks to the initiative of a local teacher. The Ecology Club, an extracurricular program conducted in partnership with the middle school of Bahia de Kino, works with 30 students per year and is divided into two phases. In the first phase students participate in field and classroom activities about local ecosystems. During field activities they are introduced to field methods for ecological studies. Students learn how to use binoculars, hand lenses, spotting scopes, compasses, field guides and other research equipment. Outings include boat trips focused on marine mammals and island natural history, estuary trips focused on bird observation, and hikes through desert ecosystems. The second phase focuses on participation in community projects where students learn to work in teams and act as community leaders.
The Jóvenes Delfines meet for two hours twice a week and work on eight general themes:
- Recycling: Managing a materials collection site at the community level, collecting plastic, aluminum and batteries. They are constructing their offices made of ecologically friendly material called “papercrete”, which they create by making blocks from recycled paper mixed with a small amount of concrete, sand and water.
- Reforestation: Planting trees in parks, schools, and public plazas.
- Clean-up campaigns: Organizing and participating in clean-up campaigns on beaches, at schools, in estuaries and on highways.
- Human ecology: Working with special education students and in need members of the community to foster a sense of unity within the community.
- Networking: Forming part of regional, national, and international networks of ecology clubs through participation in web-based initiatives, traveling to regional and national ecology club conventions, and hosting visiting groups and students for workshops.
- Community environmental education: Participating in workshops and talks on conservation themes both within and outside the community.
- Artistic expression: Composing songs, poems and painting murals on environmental themes.
- Water conservation: Working with local authorities to learn how to monitor water quality and conserve water on a community level.
Community members employed in the fields of science and conservation are also invited to share their experiences with the Ecology Club in an effort to expand the students’ vision of future career opportunities. At the end of the school year the students present their work to the community and the different organizations that collaborate with the Ecology Club.
Los Jóvenes Delfines have been recognized as pioneers in Northwest Mexico, having won first place in the Premios Oxxo Human Ecology contest in 2010 and 2011, and received a special recognition of the Secretary of Education and Culture for 2001-2010. In 2010 the students also participated in a national reunion of ecology clubs in the state of Queretaro, where they met with 600 like-minded youth to share their projects and experiences. Upon returning from this event, their captivating stories and confidence inspired their peers from the primary and preparatory school, who subsequently decided to form their own ecology clubs.
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