Where children learn more about the environment

Education for young people in Dusseldorf
Where children learn more about the environment

The animal shelter in Düsseldorf-Hellerhof was recently redesigned for the “Tina Teaches School” project. The Environmental Education Facility opened on Thursday.

When you give Natascha Karvang a matching command, chicken Rosi jumps up and down. Han Turpin has a very structured daily routine. Every afternoon he goes for a sand bath. In addition to Rosie and Torben, there are many other animals at home on the Frankfurter Straße farm in Hellerhof.

The Animal Welfare Society’s Environmental Education Facility is located in Düsseldorf and the surrounding area. Karvang leads the local project “Tina (Conservation of Animals and Nature) Goes to School”. On Thursday, the 33-year-old celebrated the facility’s opening with her team and other guests.

“The conversion is now officially complete,” explains Yvonne Reiser, who works on the farm as an animal keeper and animal care educator. On site, children from all over Düsseldorf should be made aware of how to deal with the environment.

Three and a half years ago, the Animal Protection Society received the farm as a gift from its owner at the time. Animal Friend also gave more than 1 million euros to restore the building. After work was postponed due to the Corona pandemic and the fungus in the wooden pillar of the building, the work is now finished. “We were able to start our business at the animal shelter in 2021,” says Carvang. To date, however, there are still some construction sites. This is different now.

After studying biology in 2017, Karvang started the “Tina Teaches school” project. Since then she has been going to schools. There you teach a double lesson on a specific topic that the teachers determine in advance. “During the lessons, we deal, for example, with raising pets or plastic in the sea appropriately for the species,” says Carvang. But the Tina team also offers excursions and groups at the new environmental education facility in Hellerhof. “That’s why we gradually rebuild everything,” says Yvonne Reiser.

Modern stables have now been established in part of the building. Three ponies, five sheep, two pygmy goats, and six chickens live there. From the stables they get to the pastures independently. Karvang and her team took in the animals, for example to protect them from the slaughterhouse. “We got Shetland ponies from a charity and the goats from a family that didn’t have enough space for them,” says Karvang. There is a bathroom space above the stables. To prevent the birds from breeding uncontrollably, animal rights activists laid artificial eggs in the loft.

A training room for children is located in a newly built part of the building, which visually adapts to the existing building. The outside view falls on paths marked with bark mulch leading around a natural pond. In this pond, students learn, among other things, how tadpoles become frogs. There is a fenced area next to the water. In this there are 28 cats in the house. Animals lived in the streets. A separate part of the building with a converted attic was created for them in Hellerhof.

The farm’s former residence has been preserved in function. There are three rental parties. However, the Animal Protection Society set up a special room in the basement of the house. “This is our evidence room. Among other things, we got a seahorse, a bag made of snakeskin and a turtle shell from customs,” says Carvang. In the room, kids learn more about the protected species and what they shouldn’t end up in their luggage after the holiday.

The training room on the ground floor of the courtyard building is brand new. From fall or winter there will be more training in environmental education for adults. “Advanced training is for anyone who is interested, but above all for teachers,” says Karvang. The new project is funded by the Margaret Brewer Foundation.

“We want to bring children and nature together,” explains Peter Denen of the foundation’s board of directors. The idea is to start with the adults. “We are showing ways for adults to be able to bring children closer to nature in an age-appropriate way,” says Carvang. There has already been a successful first test run with seven participants.

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