Where children learn more about the environment

Education for young people in Düsseldorf
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Where children learn more about the environment

The animal boarding school in Düsseldorf-Hellerhof was recently converted into the “Tina Teaches School” project. The environmental education facility opened on Thursday.

When Natascha Karvang gives a similar command, the chicken Rosi jumps up and down. Hahn Torben has a very structured everyday life. Every dinner he goes for sand bathing. Besides Rosie and Torben, there are many other animals at home on the farm on Frankfurter Straße in Hellerhof.

The Animal Welfare Association’s environmental training facility is located in Düsseldorf and the surrounding area. Karvang leads the local project “Tina (animal and nature care) goes to school”. On Thursday, the 33-year-old celebrated the opening of the facility along with his team and other guests.

“Now the conversion has finally been officially completed,” explains Yvonne Rieser, who works on the farm as an animal caretaker and animal welfare teacher. On site, children from all over Düsseldorf must be made aware of how to deal with the environment.

Three and a half years ago, the animal welfare association received the farm as a gift from the then owner. The animal friend also provided more than a million euros for the restoration of the building. After work was delayed due to the corona pandemic and a fungus found in the building’s wooden beam, it has now been completed. “We could start our work at the animal boarding school in 2021,” says Karvang. So far, however, there have still been some construction sites. It’s different now.

After studying biology in 2017, Karvang started creating the project “Tina teaches in school”. Since then she has gone to school. There, she teaches a double lesson on a specific topic that teachers determine in advance. “During the lessons, we deal, for example, with species-appropriate keeping of pets or with plastic in the sea,” says Karvang. But the Tina team also offers excursions and groups in the new environmental training facility in Hellerhof. “That’s why we gradually rebuilt everything,” says Yvonne Rieser.

Modern stables have now been set up in part of the building. There live three ponies, five sheep, two pygmy goats and six chickens. From the stables they reach pastures independently. Karvang and her team took the animals in, for example, to protect them from the slaughterhouse. “We got the Shetland ponies from a charity and the goats from a family that did not have enough space for them,” says Karvang. There is room for pigeons above the stables. To prevent the birds from reproducing uncontrollably, animal rights activists put artificial eggs in the attic.

A training room for children is arranged in a newly built part of the building, which optically adapts to the existing building. The view outside falls on paths laid out with bark bark leading around a natural pond. At this pond, the students learn, among other things, how tadpoles turn into frogs. There is a fenced area right next to the water. In this, 28 cats are at home. The animals used to live on the streets. A separate part of the building has been furnished with a converted ceiling for them in Hellerhof.

The farm’s former residence has been preserved in its function. There are three rental companies. In the basement of the house, however, the animal welfare association has set up a special room. “This is our proof space. We got, among other things, a seahorse, a bag made of snakeskin and a turtle shell from customs,” says Karvang. In the chamber, children learn more about protected species and what must not end up in the luggage after a holiday.

A gym on the ground floor of the farmhouse is brand new. From autumn or winter, there will be continuing education in environmental education for adults. “Higher education is aimed at everyone who is interested, but above all at teachers,” says Karvang. The new project is funded by the Margarete Breuer Foundation.

“We want to bring children and nature together,” explains Peter Dehnen from the foundation’s board. The idea is to start with adults. “We show methods for adults so that they can bring children closer to nature in an age-appropriate way,” says Karvang. There has already been a first successful test run with seven participants.

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