The German Forest Protection Association honors the St. Markus primary school in Hau.

“Trees don’t need a calendar”

The all-day school of St. Markus Primary School in Bedburg-Hau received the “Forestry Experts” award from the German Forest Protection Association.

On some days they would get their feet wet, let snails and caterpillars crawl on their hands, discovered tiny frogs, listened to the multiform songs of forest birds, built teepees out of dry branches. Eventually they came to the conclusion: “The forest is very important to everyone, even adults should go there more often, because you can learn a lot there.” About 30 children from the all day school (OGS) of the Bedburg-Hauer St Markus primary school in Schneppenbaum and Hasselt was awarded the title of “Forestry Experts” by the German Forest Protection Association (SDW ). A still young predicate.

“Waldkönner” is a forestry education project from SDW that was only launched in 2020 and is aimed at primary schools and daycare centers. Marie-Luise Fasse, vice president of SDW, came to Schneppenbaum to present the award. She praised the efforts of the OGS head, Manuela Witzke, her colleague at the Hasselt site, Bianka Lehnen, and the entire OGS team in enabling the children to experience and explore the forest with all their senses. She said to the children: “You are grown up, keep it up”.

A photographic presentation showed what the project participants were doing in the nearby forest. Under titles such as “movement”, “adventure”, “research” or “be creative”, the children spent intense hours in nature with their carers. They collected cones, leaves and other forest “treasures” in empty egg cartons, found tadpoles in a pond, discovered salamanders and even the very rare stag beetle.

“We experienced the forest as a place of learning, where we experienced peace and the opportunity to play. We touched nature with our hands and learned in this way without realizing it, “said Manuela Witzke when the children gathered in the school’s multipurpose classroom to receive the award. She reported on the enthusiasm of the children during the project. and who have also provided suggestions and developed their own ideas. “The forest cleans the air, which helps everyone. You can also learn from the trees. They always know when winter and when spring begins, they don’t need a calendar”, Witzke quoted some of the children’s statements.

“Owl Kati” was announced to the students as the guest of honor. As soon as she entered the stage, a little girl shouted, “This is Ms. Huybers,” and when she was asked, she explained that she recognized her shoes as hers. Disguised as a forest owl, OGS team’s Katrin Huybers rhymed with how the owl watched children in the forest. She particularly liked the fact that the children also collected the litter, because this protects all the animals in the forest.

Stephan Reinders, Mayor of Bedburg-Hau, congratulated the children and the OGS on the award. “You guys are really forest savvy now,” he told the kids. He also thanked the OGS employees on behalf of the community for their special educational efforts. Rainer Borsch, board member of Caritas Kleve, OGS cooperation partner of the St. Markus school, presented flowers and thanked the caregivers for an “excess” of commitment. As Manuela Witzke reports, 135 children participate in the all-day event, which represents about half of the total number of students. There is after school lunch and childcare until 4.15pm (until 3.00pm on Fridays). A wide range of courses and projects are closely related to the school curriculum. There are seasonal festivals, holiday offers and courses with an artistic and creative focus.

The school principal, Birgit Wolfertz, said of the “Waldkönner” award: “The work of the OGS reflects our school’s mission, ‘Every child is precious’ with a focus on diversity, tolerance, health and creativity”.

Background of the project: The “Forestry Experts” award of the German Forest Protection Association is based on the motto “Show commitment: protect the forest and the climate together”. Since 2020, so many institutions have applied that they have had to be suspended on short notice.

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