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Gobabeb Research & Training Centre

Youth Environmental Summit 2018 (YES)

The 10 day Youth Environmental Summit (YES) was hosted this year from the 10th to the 19th of May 2018, in the Twyfelfontain World Heritage site, roughly 10km east of the Organ pipe rock formations. A total of 34 students representing 19 schools across 7 regions attended the summit to gain practical experience in scientific field work. Tents nestled under Mopani trees became home for the two week camp. Surrounded by granite rocky out crops glowing orange with each sun rise and sunset on the edge of the Aba Huab River. Waking up to a load dawn chorus of hornbills, doves and starlings, seeing Namibia’s endemic striped squirrels scampered over and between the tents and going to sleep listening to the soft duet of the pearl-spotted owls and distant jackal calls.

The campsite was situated close to an unmapped population of Welwitschias, as well as several settlements and tourist attractions. Three projects were developed in conjunction of mentors and students, to be completed over a time span of a week. These projects explored biodiversity occurring across three unique habitats (rocky outcrops, Mopani savannah and the riverbed),the Welwitschia population dynamics and lastly local communities and resource economy . In addition field work and data collection, students were encouraged to observe and explore the area, play volleyball and soccer with the mentors, engage with the community and guests, climb the outcrops, enjoy the sunset and go stargazing.

A highlight of the summit was an unexpected game drive, sponsored by Aabadi campsite and the nearby Twyfelfontein Country Lodge, to search for a local elephant heard approximately 30km away from the campsite. For many of the students these experiences were a first, ranging from seeing majestic elephants and our national treasure the Welwitschia, to having open ceilinged showers and camping in the unexpected thunderstorm.

The week followed a pattern of methodology development, data collection, group discussions and feedback, and ended off with final preparations for the big “show” day, were learners had the opportunity to share their research outcomes in the form of a play, song and dance to the local community and invited guest at Khorixas. This feedback day was celebrated along with the international Biodiversity day, as is custom and closed off with the handing over of certificates to learners by the Honourable Minister of Environment and Tourism, Mr Pohamba Shifeta. However, this lively group of scientist seized the opportunity to welcome the Honourable Minister into what they dubbed themselves to be “the Gucci gang”, a perfect ending to an exciting week long adventure.

Many of the learners were saddened when the summit came to a close and even requested a longer summit for future years. And so the sun set beyond the rocky outcrops of Twyfelfontein, beckoning the close of yet another YES, carrying in its rays the memories of our young scientists.

yes shirt design meeting the minister

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