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Nature Classrooms is an initiative of the Nature Conservation Foundation, under the Education and Public Engagement Program. We re-imagine the experience of Environmental Studies (EVS) to seamlessly include Nature Learning in primary schools across India.

Our Vision

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  1. Developing a sense of curiosity, love and wonder for the natural world among students, teachers and the larger school community.
     

  2. Supporting Primary School Environmental Studies (EVS) Teachers to be life-long learners who design and transact learner-centric and inquiry-based lessons.
     

  3. To shift the focus of environmental education from a largely human-centric approach to one that highlights that humans are a part of nature and the larger ecosystem.
     

  4. Integrating Nature Learning into the school’s ethos and culture through existing school subjects and curricula.

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We see nature as the ideal learning space, or classroom, and hope to blur the distinctions between the two - which inspired the name “Nature Classrooms". We chose to symbolise this in our logo by using the ant - an insect that is a constant reminder of how close nature is to our lives. Our curious little ant is excited about exploring the world beyond boundaries - and we hope you are too!

Team

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Independent Consultant

I have worked on exploring if spiders can be used as natural pest control agents in agricultural systems with the Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems in Chennai and as indicators of rainforest restoration efforts in Valparai in the Western Ghats. For a few years I managed the administrative and finance team in NCF's head office in Mysore. In 2010, I received the Ravi Sankaran Inlaks Scholarship for the MPhil in Conservation Leadership at the University of Cambridge, UK. Post the course I worked with the Cambridge Conservation Initiative on strategizing and improving the collaborative potential of geographically co-located conservation organisations as a continuation of my MPhil thesis topic. I re-joined NCF in 2015 and currently head the Nature Classrooms project in Bangalore. We work closely with primary school teachers and educators to develop age appropriate, locally-culturally relevant nature learning modules, curriculum that can be weaved into the environmental sciences subject, using relevant education theory and pedagogical practices. I also conduct workshops, talks, walks for adults and children to introduce them to the fascinating world of insects, spiders and nature around them. I hold an MPhil in Conservation Leadership (2010-11) from the University of Cambridge, UK, a Masters in Ecology (2000-2002) from the University of Pondicherry and a Bachelor of Commerce degree (1994-1997) from the University of Madras, India.

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Project Manager

With a background in journalism, I soon found myself drawn toward the education space. I began my journey by exploring how media can be integrated into learning programs for children. This led me to nature education, and for the past three years, I have been actively working with children and schools to raise awareness about our ocean with a focus on waste management and sustainability. I am currently completing my Master's in Environment Studies (Conservation Practices) from Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment - ATREE. As a part of my Master's internship requirement, I joined Nature Classrooms as an intern where for the past six months I have been researching the integration of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) with nature learning, to address teacher's emotional well-being through nature connections. I am delighted to be joining Nature Classrooms as a Project Manager, where I hope to continue contributing to the goals and initiatives of the program to make nature learning a meaningful and integral part of classrooms.

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After completing my Masters in Wildlife Conservation Action from BVIEER Pune, I joined Nature Classrooms as a Project Assistant (External Consultant) from September. During my Masters thesis, I developed an interest in learning about human-nature interactions and people's perceptions towards local biodiversity, especially in urban areas. While working with Nature Classrooms, I am eager to explore this interest further. My work involves assessing nature literacy among students and their perceptions towards nature. Along with this study which will be contributing to the earlier research work, I will also be working on designing a module and creating visual aids for us. Additionally, I am also actively involved in supporting and engaging in various workshops, outreach initiatives, resource creation and other ongoing activities at Nature Classrooms.

Tanaya Rele

Project Assistant

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I am a Zoologist by training, but during and after my Ph.D., I have increasingly incorporated humanities and social science in my work. Over the last 10 years, I have developed a particular interest in interdisciplinarity and practiced it in my career. I have designed and taught courses on environmental communication for undergrad students during postdoc and social science methods for wildlife conservationists over the last few years. In my research, I use the approach of Political Ecology to study development interventions in drylands and grasslands. I continue working closely with nomadic and semi-nomadic communities in India who are dependent on the drylands and grasslands. Currently, I am also working on creating a gender toolkit for researchers specifically working with livestock-rearing communities in India in collaboration with Anthra. Through this fellowship, I will work closely with the Nature Classrooms team over the next year in the Kashmir region.

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Fellow

Aditi Rao.HEIC

Aditi Rao

Fellow

Growing up surrounded by the Western Ghats, my childhood was filled with experiments like feeding ants to carnivorous plants (Drosera !) to observing hornbills soaring above my home. My village Vaddinakoppa was my first portal to living in and with nature- concepts like coexistence and sustainability were generational routines in our homes. During my undergraduate years, I heard of 'Living with Snakes', and joined them on outreach and awareness programs, where I met my now mentors. Through them I was introduced to the 'Chinnara Vana Darshana' program where we would engage with hundreds of children, to help them foster a deeper connection to our backyard biodiversity. After this, I took up the responsibility of running 'Kaanu' an online course, to help children continue their backyard biodiversity explorations through the COVID years, and facilitated experiences and activities for hundreds of children. From there I moved on to doing my Masters in Wildlife Conservation Action and for my thesis, delved into the world of traditional ecological knowledge about tubers among the Kunbi community of Uttara Kannada, highlighting the concern of the declining tuber knowledge in younger generations. These diverse experiences have made me enjoy working with people from different generations to understand their knowledge and needs and helping them foster better connections to the world around them.

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Alumni

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Aashish Gokhale
Mythreyi K
Roshni Ravi
Adira Andlay
Labonie Roy

Interns

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Nayantara Siruguri (2022)
Anvita DJ (2021)
Adya V. Reddy (2020, 2021)
Aarushi Susheel (2020)
Apara Behar (2019)

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Illustrators

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Illustrations and Visual Design by Labonie Roy

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