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IFS Officer Trying to Create ‘Little Foresters’ Out of School Children in Sikkim

An IFS officer’s unique way to teach school children in Sikkim about plants is drawing much attention and earning praises. The officer, Kshitij Saxena, organised a trip for students to a forest nursery wherethey were briefed about diverse fauna and taught how to plant a sapling. This conservation awareness campaign with a difference was called ‘Little Forester’s Initiative’ as it involved little children learning about forestry.
Indian Masterminds Stories

Realising the importance of practical on-the-field experience to understand the theoretical knowledge better, an IFS officer in Sikkim has started a unique initiative for young students named ‘Little Forester’s Initiative’ to sensitise them on the importance of forest conservation. The children are taken to a nursery where they are shown the whole process of planting and growing plants. They are also given background information about the different types of plants.

This unique initiative has started in Chungthang Territorial Sub-division under Mangan District in North-East Sikkim under the leadership of 2019-batch IFS officer Kshitij Saxena. The officer recently organised an educational trip of students to a forest nursery where they were briefed about the diverse flora of Chungthang and were taught how to plant a sapling.

Indian Masterminds interacted with Mr. Saxena to get more details about this initiative.

LITTLE FORESTER’S INITIATIVE

IFS officer Kshitij Saxena told Indian Masterminds that on World Environment Day, they decided to organise an awareness campaign with a difference. Calling it ‘Little Forester’s Initiative’, they decided to take young school children to a forest nursery to get a first-hand idea of what it is and how it operates. This nursery has 2 lakhs plants and more than 25 species. “We thought of giving the students some feasible knowledge about forestry because in future, this generation will protect our environment.”

They invited around 20 students from 6th to 12thstandards with their teachers, 2 to 3 students from each class. They were briefed about all the species in the nursery and given demonstration on how to plant a sapling in a better way. They were also shown different kinds of seeds,how these are put in polybag with soil, how a sapling grows in the polybag, and how it is transplanted from polybag to soil. Basically, the whole process was shown and explained to them.

At the end of the briefing, the children were handed saplings to plant on their own in their homes.

The officer also informed that instead of celebrating World Environment Day, they celebrated Environment Week from 1st June to 5th June.

MOTHER BEDS

Giving details about the forest nursery to Indian Masterminds, Mr. Saxena said that it is filled with mother beds. A mother bed is an area in the nursery where plants grow from planted seeds. From here, the nursery plant is taken out of the soil, transferred to the polybag, and taken away. Then, it can be planted in any place as desired. This is a plantation exercise.

According to him, the main motive behind the ‘Little Forester’s Initiative’ was to introduce the children to the workings of a forest nursery so that they understand how a plant grows from a seed to a tree. The entire process was explained to them practically in a simplistic way so that they could comprehend easily.

FUND CRUNCH REAL

Mr. Saxena also highlighted another important aspect of this initiative. He said, “Generally, we face funds crunch for carrying out any awareness campaign. But interestingly, in this initiative, no fund was involved. We just printed some banners. And it turned out to be a more thought provoking and beneficial initiative for everyone.”

FUTURE PLAN

This was the first time that a forest nursery was used as a means for educational outreach in the state. And going by the success of the initiative, he plans to continue such programmes and introduce new things, like involving tourists, plan regular trips and even work towards including them in curriculum, and so on. A beginning has been made, now they just need to take it forward from there, which the officer is firm on doing to the best of his capability.


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