"classrooms in nature" held at risnjak national park – the first forest pedagogy workshop in croatia?

Prospekt News

Photo 1. Award-winning pupils and teachers of elementary schools of Gorski
Kotar and Primorsko-Goranska County who took part in Classrooms in Nature,
an educational and experiential workshop held at Risnjak National Park
(Photo by Dragan Turk)


Only a week after the three-day seminar in forest pedagogy
(as part of SOŽITJE, an EU project) was successfully held at Fara (Kupa
Valley, Slovenia), four of the seminar’s participants from Croatia (three
from Risnjak NP and one from PI Priroda) held their first forest pedagogy
workshop for elementary school children of Gorski Kotar and Primorsko-Goranska
County. The primary aim of Classrooms in Nature held at Risnjak NP was
to enable children to experience the forest in a different and unusual
way through a variety of educational and experiential games held in the
beautiful Leska dale. All games, such as Caterpillar, Blind Trails, Looking
for Animal Tracks and Forest Scents, are based on forest pedagogy. Characteristic
of the methods of forest pedagogy, these games encourage children to use,
and focus intensively on, their sense of touch, hearing, spatial orientation,
kinaesthetic sense and/or sense of smell.

Classrooms in Nature was held as part of an event entitled
On the Trail of the Lynx, by which Risnjak NP celebrated Risnjak National
Park Day and the 80th anniversary of the construction of the mountain
lodge on top of Mt Risnjak. Classrooms in Nature was held on Friday, 14
September 2012, as an award for pupils whose works were selected in a
contest entitled Bear Adventures, also part of the SOŽITJE project. Risnjak
Day was celebrated with the presentation of a bilingual calendar and brochure
of the same name, Bear Adventures, containing the stories and paintings
of awarded pupils. Mrs Ana Štrbenac of the State Institute for Nature
Protection held a lecture entitled Tourism in Protected Areas with Special
Reference to Large Carnivores.

As far as we know, this was the first Classrooms in Nature
workshop ever held in Croatia. We hope that this is but a modest beginning
and that forest pedagogy, at present completely unknown in Croatia, will
continue to flourish. We kindly invite anyone in Croatia who has previously
encountered forest pedagogy to contact us for an exchange of knowledge
and experience.


Photo 2. Exhibition of prize-winning paintings by pupils on the theme
of co-existence with large carnivores/bears, at the premises of Risnjak
NP (Photo by Dragan Turk)