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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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Vena Kapoor

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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Priyanka Prakash

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 her Masters in Wildlife Conservation Action from BVIEER Pune, Tanaya joined us as a Project Assistant (External Consultant) from September. During her Masters thesis, she 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, she is eager to explore this interest further. Her work involves assessing nature literacy among students and their perceptions towards nature. Along with this study which will be contributing to our earlier research work, Tanaya is also working on designing a module and creating visual aids for us. Additionally, she is also actively involved in supporting and engaging in various workshops, outreach initiatives, resource creation and other ongoing activities at Nature Classrooms.

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Project Assistant

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A Zoologist by training, during and after her Ph.D., Ovee has increasingly incorporated humanities and social science in her work. She has 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 her research, she uses the approach of Political Ecology to study development interventions in drylands and grasslands.

She continues working closely with nomadic and semi-nomadic communities in India who are dependent on the drylands and grasslands. Currently, she is also working on creating a gender toolkit for researchers specifically working with livestock-rearing communities in India in collaboration with Anthra. Through this fellowship, Ovee will work closely with the Nature Classrooms team over the next year in the Kashmir region.

Ovee Thorat

Fellow

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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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Illustrations and Visual Design by Labonie Roy

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