Sunday, 19 April 2015

Urban iNaturewatch Challenge: Valedictory Function at Hyderabad

Hyderabad, April 17th, 2015: ‘Mobile Apps for Climate Change’ an innovative initiative designed for today’s technology driven student body was launched on December 9th, 2014 by WWF-India and Ladybird Environmental Consulting (LEC) in association with the L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI). As a part of this initiative, a citizen science programme the ‘Urban iNatureWatch’ challenge was initiated wherein 600+ students from 7 schools of Hyderabad were engaged in documenting their campus biodiversity with the help of these mobile apps on trees, birds and butterflies. During these four months, students were uploading their data onto the inaturewatch website and at the end of the challenge, we received 1257 observations from schools of Hyderabad.

To begin the programme, Ms Farida Tampal, Director, WWF- Hyderabad Office presented her welcome address where she said, ‘WWF applauds the work and commitment of the schools for adopting this new pedagogy and the students for actively participating as student-scientists in the ‘Urban iNatureWatch’ Challenge’. She also mentioned, ‘Students should continue with their data collection and you will observe the variations in the occurrence and distribution of species in the three major seasons. We will analyze your data after 6 months and will felicitate the winning school during the Wildlife Week in October. We will also organize a trip to the nearby protected areas for five dedicated students from each school to expose them to the forest biodiversity and enhance their interest towards appreciating nature ’.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Taraprasad Das, Vice-Chair of LVPEI mentioned that, ‘By participating in these programmes, apart from being able to identify and record species, students also need to start developing innovative concepts that would support development that is environment-friendly and less harmful to the natural resources’.

This was followed by a brief project overview by Ms Karishma Pradhan, Education Officer, Hyderabad Office, WWF-India. She mentioned about the orientation and outdoor visits that were conducted for the schools and her observations on how the mobile apps had helped students develop an interest towards their natural surroundings. She also mentioned the enthusiastic support that she received from the faculty and students as a part of this challenge.

Post this, students from each school came forward and presented their findings, observations, methodologies and experiences of being a part of the ‘Urban iNatureWatch’ challenge. During their presentations, students of each school expressed their new found interest in connecting with Nature.

In the second session of the valedictory programme, we had the Guests of Honour Ms April Wells, Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate and Dr. C. Suvarna, IFS, Member Secretary Telangana State Biodiversity Board, Mr Anil Kumar V Epur, Chairman, WWF-Hyderabad Office and Ms Neha Kanitkar, Alumni Relations Coordinator - Public Affairs Section, US Consulate who joined us for the programme.

Each guest was invited to briefly address the students and they appreciated the initiative and motivated students to elevate their interest and contribute towards building an environment conscious society.
After the addresses, the dignitaries were requested to give away the trophy and the prizes to the winners of the ‘Urban iNatureWatch Challenge’.

The winners of the challenge are as follows:
The second runner up was Bharatiya Vidya Bhavans Atmakuri Rama Rao School with a total of 103 observations.
The first runner up was Hyderabad Public School with a total of 350 observations.
The winning school was Meridian School with a total of 615 observations.
The other participating schools were Bharatiya Vidya Bhavans Public School, Oxford Grammar School, Iqbalia International School and Chirec International School who also actively contributed towards this citizen science programme.

Dr V. Shubhalaxmi, Founder & Director, Ladybird Environmental Consulting in her concluding remarks expressed her contentment on the outcome of the project. She also congratulated Hyderabad Schools for standing out with the highest number of observations’. She has requested schools to continue this initiative in the upcoming academic year with the same zest.

The pilot phase of the ‘Urban iNatureWatch Challenge’ received a great response from Hyderabad and we hope to scale this up in the near future.  

Report by Ms. Karishma Pradhan, Education Officer, WWF-India, Hyderabad

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