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A classroom down in the taro patch

Babeldoab, Palau – Taro patches in Melekeok and Ngaremlengui served as classrooms for nine Palau Community College students recently. Instructor Juliet Ngotel serves as both an instructor at PCC, as well as a staff member at Palau Conservation Society. To carry out this 'experiential learning', Ngotel took students from the Environmental Science 249 course to two of PCS’ project sites that focus on using traditional farming practices to implement solutions to climate change.

Students had the opportunity to observe test sites where project partners are monitoring sediment flow over time and especially after big rains. Instructor Ngotel used the taro patch experience to further explain scientific inquiry and scientific method, concepts the students are currently studying.

One student commented that previous to the experience, he had been unable to make a clear connection to the concepts. Being in the field opened his mind to what he had been learning about in class, he said.

Since August 2016, PCS, with funds from United States Agency for International Development, has been working with women from various communities in Babeldaob to revive taro patches that have been abandoned in recent years. Studies have demonstrated that traditional taro farming methods can help to slow the flow of water and prevent soil erosion.

Beyond the conservation and climate change implications, the project, whose official name is “Reviving Traditional Croplands to Improve Community Climate Resilience,” also serves to promote food and economic security. PCS has also engaged in community outreach and capacity building for partners.

The project has a third site in Ngarchelong and will extend through mid-2018. For more information, please contact Palau Conservation Society at 488-3993.

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