Wildlife clubs teach children in Guyana’s Rupununi about life and livelihoods

Wildlife club coordinators. Photo: © Samantha James

A box of chocolates seems completely out of place as a tool for teaching kids about wildlife, but Susan George makes it work.

George, a member of Guyana’s North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB), used the chocolate strategy when she started working with kids in wildlife clubs in Macushi villages. It was a creative – and tasty – way to get them to understand heady terms like conservation and sustainability.

“Our first step was to see if the kids really understood what we were talking about,” George said. “Did they really know what we meant when we talked about wildlife or sustainability? Candy was our methodology.”

The game, which is called “fishing today, fishing tomorrow,” involved putting chocolates on a table and dividing the kids into three groups – elders, adults and children. The first two groups would take everything, leaving nothing for the last group. The “aha” moment would come when George told the kids that this is actually happening today with the fish their families consume.

“When you ask the kids what is needed for everyone to have fish, they come up with rules,” she said. “They offer to put some of the candy back on the table, so everyone can have some. It is a way of teaching about sustainability.”

The wildlife clubs have become an integral part of communities in the northern Rupununi that are part of the NRDDB, not only teaching kids about sustainability but introducing them to science and even careers. On a broader scale, the clubs are also a way of getting parents more involved in their kids’ education and keeping adults engaged in community activities.