2000 Ukrainians learned about Estonian nature in trips organised by EIC 12.01
Last year, the Environmental Investment Centre (EIC) in cooperation with RMK and the Ministry of the Environment organised 80 nature trips across Estonia for Ukrainian refugees. Around two thousand children and young people participated in the trips from June to December.The trips introduced Estonian nature and its conservation and helped Ukrainian children and young people acquire basic environment-related vocabulary according to language immersion principles. Under the supervision of guides, the children solved creative tasks related to nature and gained knowledge about Estonian and Ukrainian nature.
Helen Sulg, Head of Chamber of Development and Partnership of EIC, explains the background of the project: “The idea to bring young people to nature came from entrepreneur Tiit Pruuli who suggested in an interview with Postimees in spring that trips around Estonia would help distract the people who arrived here from their worries and show them the beauty of our nature. We made the idea a reality and were surprised to see that the trips also created a good environment for language immersion and provided answers to questions about daily life that couldn’t be asked before.”
In spring 2022, the council of the EIC granted 50,000 euros for the organisation of nature trips supporting the adaptation of young people and children which covered transportation, catering and organisational costs. Nature trips for Ukrainian families were organised all across Estonia from June to August; from autumn, the focus shifted to school groups from Tallinn and Harju County as well as Lääne, Pärnu, Saare, Tartu and Ida-Viru Counties. The organisation of the trips was assisted by specialists from the Environmental Board and RMK. The trips in Harju County were led by a Ukrainian nature information specialist while other counties had special programmes in Russian.
According to Ukrainian RMK nature information specialist Maksim Ponomarjov, the most exciting thing for Ukrainian children are Estonian bogs as they do not have such environments in their homeland. “Children think that a marsh is an area covered in water and if you show them a high marsh covered with woodlands where the water is only visible in pools, they will ask where the marsh is. They are always surprised to find out that the water is covered by peat and trees,” Ponomarjov added.
The hikers were very curious and asked a lot about the local nature, forest products and hiking on your own. The guides also taught the children about behaving in nature, incl. the prohibition of littering, waste sorting and fire safety. According to Anni Raie, Project Manager at EIC, the teachers participating in the trips noted that extracurricular activities in their native tongue are very important for Ukrainian youths as adapting to Estonian conditions is more difficult than expected. “Visiting the woods is known as one of the best ways to relieve stress,” Raie added.
In the coming spring, all Estonian schools and kindergartens will once again be able to apply for grants for organising study trips from the EIC environment programme. More than half a million children have participated in learning programmes funded by the EIC.
Anni Raie, Project Manager
+372 5909 4144