September 26, 2008

College Puts Ethos into Yurt Classroom

A college has installed an eco-friendly yurt on its campus as a way to practise what it teaches.

South Devon College's environment and land-based section installed the portable tent-like structure as its new classroom for students studying environmental courses.

Thought to have been used by nomadic tribes as early as the fourth century BC, yurts use naturally sustainable products like wood for the frame and cotton for the canvas. In winter they are insulated with wool or animal fibre carpets and wall hangings.

There are different types of yurt. The one at Paignton's South Devon College is a traditional Mongolian ger.

Lorraine Shears, lecturer of horticultural conservation at the college, said: "The future will be protected and managed by potential conservationists like our learners.

"What better way to start them off than with a sustainable building in which to learn?

"It is a perfect setting for the newly launched environmental conservation course and a suite of horticulture courses that will christen the educational use of this facility.

"There will even be a wind-powered laptop to marry traditional methods with modern technology."

The new yurt builds on the growing popularity of the rapidly expanding environment and land-based studies section at South Devon College, which will have a new purpose-built learning centre by September 2009.

Learners studying environmental conservation will have the chance get to grips with agricultural conservation practice, grassland habitats and wildlife and plant conservation, while honing their skills to introduce visitors to protected areas and yet preserve the species and diversity that abounds.

The yurt learning centre will be built using sustainable products and renewable energy sources.

College principal Heather Maxwell said: "We are committed to making our contribution to the sustainable agenda and we are very excited by the new curriculum developments.

"The yurt symbolises our ethos and we will continue to invest in new courses which enable the people of South Devon to become experienced and skilled in sustainable practices."

(c) 2008 Western Morning News, The Plymouth (UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.