Since 2015, Ya'axche Conservation Trust has held its annual BioBlitz event for students and teachers of the Toledo district. This event focuses on raising conservation awareness through participation in biodiversity monitoring techniques. Events in the past have included teaching students to identify birds, mammals, and fresh water invertebrates, tree identification, camera trapping, and distinguishing features by microscope. Ya'axche hopes to reach 200 students at this year's Bioblitz event.
Rural schools in Belize have limited resources to expose students to scientific learning beyond the classroom. In the Toledo district, many rural families live in communities buffering protected or forested areas, but have little or no awareness of conservation values. Knowledge of biodiversity conservation will expose students to an area of study that is not taught in traditional science curriculums, and increase stewardship among forest communities.
Each year Ya'axche Conservation Trust hosts a Bioblitz event for 200 primary school children in Toledo. Students spend a day at the field station learning about Ya'axche's biodiversity monitoring program and the value of protected areas and conservation. The highlights of the day include various hands on activities where students learn about setting up camera traps, identifying aquatic invertebrates and birds, measuring trees, using microscopes and proper data collection techniques.
This project will give 200 students the opportunity to learn biodiversity monitoring techniques that are actually used in protected areas management programs in Belize. This has the potential to diversify their options of study in the future and broaden their horizons for career choices that can impact their communities. In the long term this program instills values for nature and the environment in children that can influence positive behavioural practices in rural families.