Conservation That Endures
Here at the AlTo alliance, we’re very proud of the successes we’ve had in the field, such as reversing the decline of the endangered maleo, or saving thousands of sea turtles that otherwise would have perished. But addressing these conservation challenges in the field today is only part of our task. In order to secure its long-term future, we must address the root causes of what threatens our natural heritage. We must take an honest look at our own human attitudes and behaviors, and find creative ways to change them.
A Sense of Wonder
AlTo’s Conservation Awareness Campaign seeks to build a lively and lasting conservation ethic among the citizens of Tompotika and the world, starting with children. It’s all about the sense of wonder. Belonging. Compassion. Curiosity. The sense of responsibility to take care of the natural world of which we are a part — and the joys of doing so. These are what AlTo’s Awareness efforts cultivate, with the aim of creating a strong, broad-based, and enduring constituency for conservation — a new and healthier relationship between people and the rest of nature — in Tompotika and beyond.
Get ‘Em When They’re Young
People’s attitudes and behaviors are profoundly affected by what they learn and experience in childhood, and AlTo’s Awareness Campaign has a strong focus on schoolchildren. Traveling throughout the 2500 km2 (1000 mi2) Tompotika area, and also in its gateway city, Luwuk, AlTo staff make regular, repeated visits to the 150+ primary, middle, and secondary schools in the area, bringing interactive educational presentations, materials, and activities to help spread the conservation message.
Why is the maleo’s egg so big? How do forests help prevent flooding? Why should I thank a bat for the fruit I’m eating? And what’s it like to try to find something through smell and sound alone? Through AlTo’s school-based program, approximately 1000 kids each month participate in one of a variety of Conservation Awareness Campaign events, whose specific topics, materials, and activities are updated frequently.
Spreading the Conservation Message
The program is very popular among Tompotika schoolchildren, their teachers, and even the parents, to whom kids go home and pass on what they’re learning. So popular, in fact, that AlTo staff are always welcomed on each return visit to the schools, and we’ve had requests to bring the Campaign to areas far outside the Tompotika region. As one Head of School commented, “I thank God that AlTo has come to our school so that the children can understand and care for our environment and rare wildlife.”
Kids in the Field
But AlTo’s Conservation Awareness Campaign doesn’t stop in the classroom. The very best way to help kids (and adults) fall in love with nature is to immerse them in it. Therefore, AlTo brings small groups of Tompotika schoolkids to our flagship maleo nesting ground near the village of Taima so that they can quietly witness–for themselves–the wonders of maleos digging their nest pits, calling to their mates, and burying their enormous eggs. For most kids, it’s their first time ever spending time watching a wild creature, let alone an endangered maleo. Groups are limited, and kids greatly prize the chance to go on these field trips, or “Adventures with Maleo,” as they’ve been dubbed. As one group of put it, “We’re happy and delighted… to learn from our AlTo older siblings things we didn’t know, to protect our environment and the maleo.”
Outreach to Adults Too!
But children are not the only target of AlTo’s Awareness activities. In addition to posters, calendars, and other outreach materials that can be seen in public places throughout Tompotika, AlTo also sponsors theater events, Art for Conservation projects, a specially-targeted Law Enforcement Outreach project, and other Awareness activities aimed at all members of the public.
Healing the Relationship
AlTo’s Awareness efforts aim to touch people’s hearts and minds — and change their behavior. Coupled with our field programs, which are actually restoring wild populations of Tompotika’s animals and plants, AlTo is working to build a stronger, healthier relationship between people and nature in Tompotika — and the world.