By Serina Rahman
This group of graduating students of Taylor’s School of Communication came to me 1 year ago to ask some of the strangest questions I’d ever heard on turtles. It is heartening to see how far they’ve come as they complete their project to increase awareness amongst their peers on the plight of the turtle and how much they have learnt and matured.
It is always encouraging to meet youth determined to make a difference in the environmental cause. It reminds us that not all of the country’s future decision makers and community leaders are completely apathetic. It is heartening to see them work so hard to open the eyes of their friends and college-mates to the plight of another being.
And this is exactly what this group did. With a project that took more than a year of planning and 1 month’s execution, these students worked to spread the word amongst other tertiary students by holding talks, exhibitions, competitions and even cook-outs to encourage interest. Incredibly, the group even travelled to Singapore to speak to the general public about turtle conservation there.
After being trained themselves in the relevant content by both MNS Marine SIG and TrEES, they then went on to work with even younger youth; the Rangers and Rovers of SMK Methodist Melaka. And of course a turtle conservation project would not have been complete without a visit to a turtle sanctuary. The group travelled to the Padang Kemunting Turtle Hatchery, run by WWF, to get a first-hand look at a turtle hatchery.
One of the highlights for us, however, was their presence at Raptor Watch 2008. Their friendly mascot, Aida, was a firm favourite of many children who spotted her from afar and made a beeline for her to take photos or receive a warm hug. Aida’s popularity and unabashed friendliness made her a firm favourite with the press and she received extensive media coverage; good for the group and good for Raptor Watch!
Although the project under their lecturer Ms Syireen Rose has now come to an end, the Turtle People are determined to leave a legacy of environmental protection and conservation behind. The group is setting up an eco-club within Taylor’s College to carry on their work, to continue bringing Aida out to the masses and to become the link between NGOs and college youth. It really is a positive sign, and a much-needed avenue to reach out to a group that is usually more difficult to engage.
Here’s hoping that more of such initiatives continue to pour forth from Taylor’s and other colleges nationwide!