YEREVAN—Armenia Tree Project (ATP) launched a new and expanded edition of its “Plant an Idea, Plant a Tree” environmental education manual during a public program at the American University (AUA) of Armenia on March 26. The presentation took place at AUA’s Alex and Marie Manoogian Hall and the event was supported by the Acopian Center for the Environment.
“Plant an Idea, Plant a Tree” was introduced in 2005 when ATP published Armenia’s first teacher’s manual for environmental education, compiled and written by Dr. Karla Wesley. It received approval from Armenia’s National Institute of Education and the Center for Curriculum Development of the Ministry of Education and Science for integration into the secondary school system. The OSCE Yerevan Office partnered with ATP and supported the publication of the manual.
“Plant an Idea, Plant a Tree” quickly gained in popularity among teachers and schoolchildren. Since 2006, ATP environmental education staff has trained teachers in different regions of Armenia and the manual became an indispensable part of their classes. Already more than 820 teachers throughout Armenia have been trained on using the manual in their classroom.
Last year, ATP worked with teachers and experts from the National Institute of Education to make the manual fully compatible with official curriculum standards in Armenia. The manual was enriched with lessons on climate change, starting a youth eco-club, civic engagement, and the environment, and other topics.
“The most important thing for ATP was that teachers and especially children liked this education manual. We should teach our children very early on to love nature,” stated ATP Yerevan director Mher Sadoyan at the March 26 event. “This book is a useful tool to achieve this goal, especially since the lessons are cheerful and interactive. It is designed to incorporate elements of fun in the learning process and to maintain the enthusiasm of children.”
Representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, United Nations Development Program, World Wildlife Fund, and National Institute of Education participated in the presentation along with a number of environmental NGOs, teachers, and supporters.
Carel Hostra, the deputy head of OSCE, noted in his speech that he placed great value on the new environmental education manual. He thanked ATP for the tremendous work it had done and expressed his delight in being a part of this initiative. “The manual is important as it doesn’t dwell only on nature protection, but also emphasizes the responsibility of individuals towards nature protection. Let’s change the world starting with ourselves,” said Hostra.
After ATP Environmental Education Program manager Alla Berberyan presented the new edition of the “Plant an Idea, Plant a Tree” manual, several teachers in attendance expressed their appreciation for its publication. Berberyan pointed out that this was a completely new step for teachers in Armenia. “The teachers have taken a lead role in the elaboration of the manual, have become deeply familiar with the modern methodology standards of education, and gained the relevant knowledge and skills to create a new teaching tool,” emphasized Berberyan.
“This manual is a precious gift for the ones that are engaged in ecological issues and environmental education. One of the best things about this manual is that it is designed for students starting from seven to eight years and up to high school,” said Emma Melkonyan, a biology teacher in Yerevan.
“The majority of the lessons in this manual are practical classes, experiments, and excursions that make lessons more interesting. In such an environment, students understand their role in ecological issues and come up with practical solutions,” she continued. “Although the solutions can be simple or sometimes idealistic, they are radiant in ways that lead to the elaboration of eco-friendly thinking.”
The second edition of ATP’s environmental education manual, “Plant an Idea, Plant a Tree,” is available by visiting http://www.armeniatree.org/whatwedo/eea.htm.
Since 1994, Armenia Tree Project has planted and restored more than 3.5 million trees at over 800 sites around the country and created hundreds of jobs for impoverished Armenians in tree-regeneration programs. The organization’s three tiered initiatives are tree planting, community development, and environmental education. For more information and to support ATP’s mission, visit www.armeniatree.org.