For second consecutive year, WWF Romania gathered middle and high school students along with their teachers to review the past year successes and challenges and to prepare for the activities planned by Active Youth Club for the Danube and Sturgeons in the new school year. The event took place in Tulcea, Romania, in mid-August, and included young people from the communities of Sfantu Gheorghe, Galati and Jurilovca (Romania).
The planning meetings were not the only item on the young ambassadors’ agenda of Day 1, but they also took part in trainings delivered by WWF’s experts in conservation, communications and non-formal education and presented themselves the highlights of their club activities for the past few months. The clubs’ ambassadors discussed with their mentors from WWF the regular club meetings, recruitment of new members, the competitions they had organised within the clubs as well as the organisation of specific events – the Earth Hour, Earth Day and Environment Day being the ones that received the highest uptake and most external participants involvement. That set up the tone for drawing up new project ideas and making plans for the year ahead.
Day 2 of the sturgeon youth clubs academy was dedicated to ecotourism, which is another crucial topic the young people get involved in. To find out more of the practical meaning of ecotourism and how such a business activity is carried out, Mr. Paul Condrat – an entrepreneur from Jurilovca, met with the students and shared with them his own experiences of developing business in ecotourism. In the second part of the day, the students went to the Touristic Information Center of DDBRA, followed by visits to the Danube Delta Ecotourism Museum Center and the aquarium, which hosts specimens of those sturgeon species that can still be found in Romanian waters.
On the following day, the TADS members were invited to put their knowledge into practice and prepare a half-day tour for tourists, performing the role of local guides. This resulted in a whole series of activities that the young TADS demonstrated can be done in their home city or village, such as birdwatching, cooking workshops, manufacturing and crafting of various objects typical for the region, reconstruction of historical places and events, traditional dance and music performances.
Also on day 3, the TADS coordinators and their teachers learnt the challenges of organising and delivering a communication campaign. They leart how to set goals, define the right target audiences and, depending on that, what it takes to create effective and appealing communication messages in combination with to apply various promotion methods. The students worked in teams to develop a specific communication campaign with same topic: poaching on sturgeons and responsible consumption of sturgeon products. The suggested by the students campaigns were original and diverse, including an anti-poaching protest, a Sturgeon Festival, an informal campaign for fishermen and even a documentary film on the topic of sturgeon poaching.
Despite the packed with activities schedule, the WWF sturgeon project team and the teachers managed to mobilise the students and encourage their work as a team, as a result of which the training finished with a show worth playing in theaters (see the video below). The ideas generated during the four days of youth camp academy will be used by the TADS coordinators in meetings with peers in the new school year 2019/2020.
The team of WWF Romania is particularly grateful to all the participants who got involved in the 2019 TADS academy and is very much looking forward to collaborating with the sturgeon clubs in the last year of the „LIFE for Danube Sturgeons” project, finishing in December 2020.