Programme to mentor young environmentalists set to expand

Organised by a few local environmentalists, the Sustainability Mentorship Programme will now run for a longer period, cover a wider scope of green issues as well as take in more participants.

Olivia Siong, Channel NewsAsia 9 Jan 16;

SINGAPORE: A programme to mentor young people passionate about the environment is being expanded, after completing its first run last year.

Organised by a few local environmentalists, the Sustainability Mentorship Programme (SMP) will now run for a longer period, cover a wider scope of green issues as well as take in more participants.

National University of Singapore undergraduate Sankar Ananthanarayanan and fellow enthusiasts formed the Herpetological Society of Singapore (HSS) in April last year. The group has an interest in reptiles and amphibians.

They lead nature walks on a monthly basis to promote conservation. The 21-year-old also took part in the first SMP, which he said helped shaped the way the society is run.


Mr Sankar Ananthanarayanan (centre) leading a nature walk at MacRitchie Reservoir. (Photo: Olivia Siong)

Mr Sankar said: "We learnt a lot about collaboration with other green groups in Singapore. For example, if we are doing a guided walk in a particular area, we don't want to clash with other groups that are already doing guided walks there.

“Instead, why not focus on other parts of Singapore which are not given as much attention? I did learn a lot from some of the mentors about how to interact with the public and how to spread the message, not only offline but also online. So, part of what we do at HSS is regular blogging. There are certain times when the outreach is best. Those are such insights which I did gain from the SMP.”


Mr Sankar Ananthanarayanan (left) pointing out interesting flora and fauna in sight. (Photo: Olivia Siong)

MORE TOPICS WILL BE INCLUDED IN SECOND RUN

This year's programme will target those aged between 19 and 29. The first run was open to those aged 19 to 35.

Once a month, mentors will share their views on a green topic. In the first run, these ranged from nature conservation and environmental law to green businesses. Field trips are also part of the programme.

More topics will be added for the second run, including hot issues like the zero waste movement and circular economy as well as food security.


Participants from the first run of the Sustainability Mentorship Programme last year. (Photo: Eugene Tay)

Environmental consultant Eugene Tay will continue as a mentor, along with three others for the programme's second run. Nature enthusiast Ria Tan, who runs website WildSingapore, will also continue as a mentor.

Urban planner and founder of The Leafmonkey Workshop, November Tan and sustainability manager, Marcus Tay have come onboard as new mentors for the second run of the programme. There were three mentors last year.

Said Mr Tay: “We can have different perspectives from different sectors. We have the private sector people come in so they can share about sustainability and businesses.

“People who are urban planners can also talk about urban planning in Singapore. We need to give the young people a sense of the different environmental issues and how they're interrelated. We also hope to nurture them and give them support, so they can stay on the sustainability cause for the long term."

More people will also get to take part in the programme. There are 20 places available this year, up from 13 last year.

With the greater scope, participants will also be expected to meet with their mentors twice a month, instead of once.

This year’s programme will also be extended from the previous seven months to 10. Participants are expected to complete a group project on top of an individual project.

Registrations are set to close on Jan 24 and the programme is expected to begin in February. Those who are interested can learn more at this website.

- CNA/xk

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