By Naturalist “Azima” Aziwoh Sewuh Ndimbe
‘‘Whoever can name five plants with the scientific names will receive a gift at the end of the month.” My dad set this challenge but it turned into a quest for who is best at memorizing difficult scientific names of plants from our local community garden, called Limbe Botanical Garden. This grew into a beautiful passion that has influenced every aspect of my life.
I grew up in the country of Cameroon, found in Central Africa. This area is predominantly a tropical rainforest ecosystem. In the course of my studies, I became fascinated by the diversity of native plants and animals in my area. I was even more intrigued by the vast diversity of ecosystems around the world, and looked forward to experiencing them at some point in my life.
In 2015, I had the opportunity to participate in an exchange program through the National Park Service to work as an Interpretative Naturalist Intern at Dunes Learning Center. This opportunity became the most influential part of my career. This ecological hotspot is totally unique! I had the chance to not only learn about the biodiversity in this area, but was able to teach and help kids fall in love with the outdoors. For a year, I learned different techniques and taught approximately five thousand students, ranging from 1st to 12th grade, through different environmental education programs offered at Dunes Learning Center.
This experience teaching outdoors inspired me to start an environmental education initiative back in Cameroon when I returned in 2016. The program was called Kids For Nature (K4N). I had the chance to work with 20 schools in our local communities doing outdoor environmental programs. This program created completely new opportunities for these kids, and resulted in the planting of almost 100 native plants. We created 5 school gardens and very excited kids who love being outside.
My love and passion for the outdoors is the reason I returned to Dunes Learning Center. I want to learn more about the field of environmental education, and the dunes just feels like the best place to foster this passion. I have met so many people who share their experiences and teaching techniques. My ultimate dream is to create an Environmental Learning Center back in Cameroon, and Dunes Learning Center is the reason I have this dream.