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Launch of Heritage and Habitat Teachers Guide

Heritage 1

Magh Éne College transition-year students with ecologist Billy Flynn (far right), surveying the flora and fauna of the Bundoran seashore.


The County Donegal Heritage Office, Culture Division, Donegal County Council in association with the Donegal Education Centre will launch the ‘Heritage & Habitat in Your Community’ Teachers’ Guide in the Donegal Education Centre, Quay Street, Donegal Town on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.  The event is open to the public and light refreshments will be served.


“The purpose of the ‘Heritage & Habitat in Your Community’ schools’ initiative was to raise awareness of natural habitats in local communities and to encourage habitat surveying and recording” explained Joseph Gallagher, County Donegal Heritage Officer.  “In 2013 and 2014, transition year students from Magh Éne College, Bundoran and St. Columba's Comprehensive School, Glenties were provided with guidance on how to survey, record and map habitats in the local community. 


The project highlighted the linkages between habitat surveying and the secondary-level curriculum in Geography.  Ecologists Billy Flynn and Éanna Ní Lamhna worked with the students and their teachers in these two schools and the teachers’ guide has been prepared to assist teachers with the teaching, surveying and recording of various habitat types through the secondary school curriculum.”


A number of common habitats in County Donegal are addressed in the guide.  In addition to the coastal habitats explored by students from Magh Ene College, Bundoran and bogland habitats investigated by students from St. Columba's Comprehensive School, Glenties, habitats such as freshwater habitats, grassland habitats, deciduous woodlands and hedgerows are covered in the guide.  The flora and fauna present in these habitats are outlined and guidance on undertaking fieldwork, surveying and recording is provided along with sample worksheets and suggestions for additional resources. 


Habitat 2

Ecologists Billy Flynn and Éanna Ní Lamhna, geography teacher Mary Martin and transition-year students from St. Columba's Comprehensive School in Glenties discuss the wildlife found in a local bog.


Authors Billy Flynn and Éanna Ní Lamhna note that “In Primary Schools, the Social, Environmental and Scientific Education curriculum ensures that pupils leave at the age of twelve with considerable knowledge about the wildlife present in local habitats.  In Post-Primary Schools however, this knowledge is allowed to lapse.


 Apart from a small ecology section in the Biology Section of the Junior Cert Science syllabus, pupils are not taught about heritage and habitat until fifth year and only then if they study geography or biology.  This guide therefore is to enable Transition Year teachers carry out a habitat and heritage study with their pupils, taking account of the level of knowledge they are likely to have at this stage.”


The guide will be launched in the Donegal Education Centre, Floor 2/3, Pier 1, Quay Street, Donegal Town on Wednesday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m.  Ecologist, author and broadcaster Éanna Ní Lamhna will give an overview of the teachers’ guide.   Éanna Ní Lamhna is the author of ‘Wild Things at School’, a member of the panel on RTÉ ‘Mooney Goes Wild’ radio programme and the wildlife expert on ‘The Six O’Clock Show’ on TV3.


This initiative was funded by Donegal County Council, The Heritage Council and the Donegal Education Centre as part of the implementation of the County Donegal Heritage Plan.  The ‘Heritage & Habitat in Your Community’ Teachers’ Guide will be made available to all schools through the Donegal Education Centre and on-line.  Copies of the guide will also be available at the launch.  If you would like to attend the launch, please contact the County Museum on (074) 912 4613 or by e-mail at [email protected]


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