Fauna Vecina: A VcM project by a biology student seeks to bring environmental fauna closer to boys and girls

Art, education, and science intersect in Academic Extension’s Environmental Connection (VcM) project, which through Illustrated book dedicated to girls and boys from 6 to 9 yearsSearch draw attention to animal species that can be observed in the immediate environment and stimulate respect for biodiversity and interest in its conservation.

neighboring fauna is the title of the project promoted by the biology student, Laura Victoriano Habitwho announced that the book is currently in the conceptualization phase and that it should be completed in April 2023 in digital format to begin its physical distribution from July.

“Since I was little, I have always been excited to meet animals that I have read or heard about somewhere. Through these instances, I began to realize that the nature we have close to us is just as exciting as that shown on Animal Planet, and they are what made me become interested in studying the natural world,” says he.

The future biologist says that one of the motivations that led her to submit her proposal to the VRIM competition fund was the idea of ​​making children live the same illusion that she did when she was little: “that after you open the book and look of cartoons get excited when they see a chinchilla in the schoolyard or a moth in the window”.

“I think curiosity and respect for nature comes from those little things,” he said.

Unlike other educational books on the subject, which focus heavily on exotic animals, Fauna Neighbor will look at examples of closely related and recognizable native species such as different types of insects, birds, reptiles and mammals that boys and girls from the central-south zone of Chile can find at home, at school, in the park or in their daily life in general.

Laura is currently consulting with professors in the Faculty of Natural and Oceanographic Sciences to determine which animals to include in the text, but she expects that among the species selected are jumping spiders (family Salticidae), which live in houses during the warm seasons, and of which there are several natives.

“They fit perfectly into the spirit of what I hope the book will be, because they are animals that are often feared, but they are absolutely harmless, relatively easy to identify and even useful: they are excellent fly and other pest hunters.” I think it illustrates well the idea that our preconceptions about the animals around us are often wrong.“.

On the other hand, he adds that the book will have a large section devoted exclusively to birds. “They are the most charismatic and recognizable animals in town. Thrushes, Chincoles, Tiucks, Goldfinches and Jotess, among many others, will be included,” he said.

The text, which will consist of about 30 pages, will begin with an explanation of what an animal is and what it means to be native, then move on to recognizing the places where they take refuge, common insects in the home and reptiles that can seen in the environment; going through an overview of nocturnal species, those that sting or bite and those found in the garden, as well as those that live in areas such as national parks near the city.

Lasiurus fantasia, illustration by Laura Victoriano.

The content of the book will be based on scientific literaturewill be reviewed by biodiversity experts from UdeC yearwritten in collaboration with an educator specializing in early childhood education, to check that the language is appropriate for the audience to which it is addressed; while the same person in charge of the project will be responsible for the illustrations, who recognizes in the drawing one of his passions.

Illustrations will be done in alcohol-based inks, gel ink and colored pencils, with a cartoonish and striking style, always maintaining the characteristics that identify the species represented.

The project envisages the printing of 120 to 150 books, which will be supplied free of charge to various educational institutions and organizations; as well as to the Municipal Library and NGO Ansiosxswho have expressed an interest in receiving the books on loan and to the Faculty of Education of UdeC, for use as educational material.

Laura says she has gained some experience in design and draws whenever she has time; but he admits that he has never faced work like this book, which he sees as an important challenge.

“I plan to use almost all of my time next semester to get the book ready by the deadline. It’s going to be intense, but it’s something I’m really excited about and I know the end result will be worth it.“, he assures.

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