Through The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC’s) Learning – Action – Leadership model, we aim to connect youth to nature and cultivate their interest in conservation by empowering youth to LEARN about, ACT to support and LEAD their own conservation solutions.
Starting in 2021, TNC is collaborating with English Schools Foundation (ESF), the largest provider of English-medium international education in Hong Kong, to jointly present the Nature Works Hong Kong Programme 2021. The program will continue to engage secondary school students with real-world environmental initiatives and improve schools’ environmental practices.
For details about the program structure and information session, please see: https://natureworkshk.esf.edu.hk/
Nature Works Hong Kong Learning Hub is a broad-based engagement program with low barriers to entry for students, teachers and school to build more interest in environmental conservation and sustainability by connecting people the topics to their daily lives. The online curriculum platform exposes students to a wide variety of applications for environmental science, developing their passion and interest in the topic, and provides pathways to deeper engagements in the ACT and LEAD segments.
The Citizen Science in Action provides passionate students with opportunities for meaningful action in the field of conservation and sustainability. The program engages young people in conservation action, inculcating a culture of volunteerism in schools and communities and build their science thinking by the data collection and analysis in field work.
The Leadership Development Program offers students the opportunity to build leadership and entrepreneurship skills by creating real-world environmental conservation initiatives that bring measurable impact in their schools. The program aims to build pathways to further study and careers in the field, equipping participants with the demand by organizations working in conservation and adjacent industries.
Nature Works 2018
In 2018, a total of 67 students participated in NWHK 2018 from 15 schools in China and Hong Kong. Student teams ran their pilot projects to improve the sustainability of their school in four topic areas – energy, indoor air quality, biodiversity and waste. In total, we have directly impacted 420 students from 80 schools across Hong Kong and China and helped launch 50 student-led projects.
The 2018 program included four distinct stages:
- Investigation and baseline development
- Core training
- Project development and advisory
- Project execution
The top four groups that received most votes from the judges and guests turned out to be:
Shatin College – Food Waste
Their goal was to reduce by 20% the amount of food waste from Shatin College that ends up going to the landfill, and in the three weeks of the pilot project phase, they collect over 100kg of food waste.
Island School – Food Waste
The team introduced new food waste bins on campus to collect food waste to convert it into compost. The team collected more than 28kgs of food waste to be composted.
Renaissance College – Indoor Air Quality
The team hopes to see Hong Kong transform into a leader in sustainability, where clean and safe air is in abundance. The students identified four rooms in their school with the worst PM 2.5 level. They placed four different air-purifying plants in the rooms to improve indoor air quality.
Shenzhen Yantian Foreign Languages School – Biodiversity
The students took field trips to wetlands near their school collect data on local biodiversity and then created informative leaflets that were distributed to their peers and presented in classrooms to introduce what biodiversity is and why it is important to local environments. The team also created QR codes around campus for students to scan and learn more about the species found around the school. In addition, the team made a school green map model using 3D printing technology to showcase the species that can be found.
Elin Chan – Turning Fruit Waste into Fruity Clean
Creating a 100 percent natural cleaning detergent out of household waste might seem counter-intuitive, but Elin Chan decided to think outside the box with her Nature Works project. Her team, Eco-Gladiators, sought to reduce food waste and raise awareness about the negative impacts of commercial dish detergent.
Many commercial detergents contain palm oil – the product of an industry that is often linked to deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and habitat degradation. And many households don’t think twice before throwing out fruit and vegetable scraps that contribute to waste issues in major cities like Hong Kong, where 13,800 tons of waste is disposed of at landfills every day. In response, Elin’s team developed Fruity Clean, a hand washing, dish washing and floor cleaning detergent made from fruit peels, and the team successfully sold the product at several eco-fairs including the Discovery Bay Handmade Bazaar. Beyond that, the team has gone on to teach more than 250 people how to create their own natural detergent through workshops at fairs and schools across Hong Kong.
In 2016, as one of the Nature Works Hong Kong ambassadors, Elin visited TNC’s project site in Longwu Reservoir in East China to learn about how we work with local communities to transform the traditional methods of bamboo farming to protect water sources and their livelihoods.
Check out this video below by Elin on how to make your own Fruity Clean.
Ike Park — Saving Trees with Paper
Convincing organizations to change their practices can be tough, but the then-15-year-old Ike Park did just that in 2013 as a participant in Nature Works Hong Kong. He started out co-founding a project group called Inter-school Tree Planting Alliance, aiming to educate schools about the benefits of planting trees as a way to encourage reforestation in Hong Kong. However, when it became clear that this project’s return on investment would not be as high as hoped, he switched gears and decided to instead reduce deforestation on the consumption side by promoting an alternative to cutting down more trees.
This new initiative, called Project O2, lobbied secondary schools to make the switch to recycled paper and to keep it economically viable by buying in bulk. More than 25 institutions have since pledged to invest in recycled paper supplies, saving more than 4,000 trees annually. In 2014, Ike initiated the first Hong Kong Youth Environmental Summit with several local environmental NGOs. And in 2016, Ike won the SCMP Spirit of Hong Kong Award for his impressive entrepreneurial spirit and effort.