Situated in north Taiwan, Guandu Nature Park is a wetland consisting of woodland, streams, creeks, brackish ponds and rice paddies. It is home to more than 800 species of animals, including 229 species of birds. Guandu asked the Project WET Foundation to conduct a training there in 2011, and the wetland nature preserve has been a Project WET International Partner since shortly thereafter. They train educators of all kinds to teach children about water and use Project WET to teach about water at the park and around Taiwan. In the summer of 2014, former Guandu employee Ebay Chung volunteered at Project WET headquarters in Bozeman and succeeded in making all of us want to visit the park. To learn more about Guandu Nature Park and Project WET Taiwan, we interviewed Szu-Ting (Sandra) Hsu, the project secretary for Project WET Taiwan:
Project WET Foundation (PWF): Tell us about one special water place in Taiwan. What makes it unique?
Sandra (S): Guandu Nature Park is a place that lets us keep in touch with nature even in the busiest city in Taiwan, Taipei City! Guandu maintains the original paddy landscape and represents the old relationship between people and land. We have many lessons available to help people know what a wetland is, why people need wetlands and how to protect wetlands. There is a strong relationship between water and wetlands, so we also want to introduce what water is, why water is so important and how to use water smartly and effectively.
We have many interesting lessons from Project WET that help people ask these questions and then figure out their own answers. The most interesting thing is we employ six water buffalo to maintain the wetland. We pay them many plants as their food, but they have to find these plants by themselves and eat them. Everyone who comes to Guandu must visit them and take pictures with them!
PWF: Tell us one thing about the Project WET Taiwan program that makes you proud.
S: We have a program to introduce water everywhere using lessons from Project WET. To do that, we drive a colorful car that carries many teaching aids. We have been working on this program for two years, and we have traveled from city to country to educate everyone—children through adults. People from everywhere can realize why water is so important. We probably have been over 100 places in Taiwan, and we are continuing to do this program now.