YEREVAN—Armenia Tree Project is widely known as an environmental organization that plants trees in the Republic of Armenia. Over the course of its experience in greening Armenia, ATP’s leadership recognized that planting trees alone will not necessarily lead to a successful outcome. As a result, ATP introduced an environmental education program to supplement its tree planting programs and prepare a new generation of environmental stewards.
Some of the goals of the environmental education program are to engage young people in environmental issues, educate them on how to think green, to appreciate their natural heritage, and to strive for a sustainable and healthy environment. Environmental education has become one of ATP’s core programs and it has been implemented in all of Armenia’s regions since 2005.
In 2010, 198 teachers were trained to use ATP’s “Plant an Idea, Plant a Tree” education manual. The teachers were from every region of Armenia, although a majority was from Lori where there has been widespread deforestation. Among the trainees were 20 specialists from Armenia’s National Institute of Education, who became qualified as trainers.
Already in 2011, ATP staff has organized two five-day training sessions using the “Plant an Idea, Plant a Tree” teacher’s manual with 26 teachers from schools in Yerevan. Most of the teachers were from the Mkhitar Sebastatsi and Aregnazan (Waldorf) schools, along with participants from 10 other schools in Yerevan.
“Cooperation between Armenia Tree Project and our school is very valuable, and the ‘Plant an Idea, Plant a Tree’ manual will increase the environmental activism of our school’s community,” stated A. Bleyan, the principal of the Mkhitar Sebastatsi School.
Aregnazan is a unique educational program where creativity, imagination, and art are in the forefront of the educational methodology and child’s up-bringing. ATP has added “nature and the environment” to the issues that the teachers and children are addressing through their creative talents.
“This cooperation with the Aregnazan School is going to bloom further through various joint environmental activities that are planned for the spring,” stated Alla Berberyan, who has managed ATP’s environmental education program since 2009.
When asked about her role with ATP, Ms. Berberyan notes, “Our work is about awakening in people a love for nature and the ability to care for it.”
ATP has cooperated with the Shen NGO by distributing its “Environment and Nature Protection” manual to teachers and children during education lessons. ATP has also distributed its “Plant an Idea, Plant a Tree” manual to Heifer International and the US Peace Corps for use in their educational programs in Armenia.
In March, environmental training events are being planned at schools in Kotayk, Armavir, and Aragatsotn regions. ATP staff provides environmental training for schoolchildren and involves them in various practical environmental activities.
“It is inspiring to see the enthusiasm and eagerness of the teachers and children, each of whom wants to contribute to the protection of Armenia’s environment,” stated Ms. Berberyan.
Cooperation with diasporan schools also continues within the framework of the “Building Bridges” program initiated in 2010. For example, connections are being developed between students at the AGBU Sisag H. Varjabedian School in Chicago and the Ohanyan School in Armenia. Children have been learning about each other through sharing letters, photos, and personal video-stories. They are also preparing stories about the environment in their local communities.
“Through this program, diasporan students are learning about the daily life of children in Armenia, as well as about Armenia’s natural heritage and environmental challenges. We are increasing the number of schools that are ‘building bridges’ to involve diasporans from other countries in the coming months,” added Ms. Berberyan.
“Building Bridges presents an exceptional opportunity for our students to forge cultural bonds with peers halfway around the world that we hope will be the foundation of the global Armenian community of tomorrow,” stated Gary Rejebian, cultural and community programs director for AGBU Chicago. “Every citizen of this community needs to be concerned about the environment and world we all share. Toward this end, ATP’s Building Bridges program helps our children learn environmental responsibility with exceptional clarity and purpose.”
ATP’s mission is to assist the Armenian people in using trees to improve their standard of living and protect the environment, guided by the need to promote self-sufficiency, aid those with the fewest resources first, and conserve the indigenous ecosystem. ATP’s three major programs are tree planting, environmental education, and sustainable development initiatives. For more information about ATP, please visit the web site www.armeniatree.org.