‘Youth, Science, Ecology, Culture’ Youth Club, or USEC

‘Youth, Science, Ecology, Culture’ Youth Club, or USEC

Expert Reports  

The USEC Youth Club of the Russian Geographical Society (YoC RGS) has been existing for more than 3 years, it got its name as an abbreviation of the words: Youth, Science, Ecology, Culture. The activities in these areas have become the basis for the functioning of the Youth Club, and its members are the children from the city of Nalchik and the rural settlement of Tashly-Tala in Kabardino-Balkaria (located on the northern flank of the Greater Caucasus range). The USEC was set up and is operating on the basis of the State Budgetary Institution (SBI) of Additional Education “Ecological and Biological Centre” of the Ministry of Education of the Republic.

And although the USEC Youth Club has existed for a relatively short time, the history of the Ecological and Biological Centre under which it was created goes back to the 1949 when the Children’s Michurin Agricultural Station was opened at Orphanage No. 1 in the city of Nalchik to provide the schoolchildren with conditions for their successful education in biology and gaining their leaning skills in carrying out experimental work. In 1991, the Michurin Agricultural Station was reorganized to become the SBI of Additional Education “Ecological and Biological Centre” under the Ministry of Education and Science of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic. There were several more reorganizations and it was renamed several times, and since 2018, the Ecological and Biological Centre has become the SBI of Additional Education “Ecological and Biological Centre” under the Ministry of Education, Science and Youth Affairs of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic.

The USEC Youth Club was stared here a little over three years ago.

“The Youth Club’s activity is in two interconnected areas like natural science and arts-and-sports,” says Asker Kongapshev, Head of the Youth Club. “This allows us to make the events wider through forming various interesting interdisciplinary links for the comprehensive development of our USEC Youth Club members - from simple tasks requiring considerable mental agility to effecting a complex mountain climbing that requires good organization and extreme concentration.” There are three main areas of work such as patriotic education, environmental education and career guidance counseling. The Youth Club focuses on team-building and responsibility for the fate of the Motherland. Each participant willingly contributes to the preservation of the unique stunning nature of the Kabardino-Balkaria.

The activities of the Youth Club are planned for six months. The plans include holding environmental volunteer events, promoting educational events, making presentations at various educational institutions, organizing trips and expeditions for young people, and supporting educational and research projects carried out by the schoolchildren and students in the region.

What are the schoolchildren and students doing?

On May 27, 2022, they took part in a study and research tour to the Gedmishkh (Zhetmish-Suu) Waterfalls. This amazing natural object has several names like the Royal Falls, or the Royal Crown, or the Waterfall of 70 streams, or Avatar Waterfalls (because the natural landscapes are similar). It is very popular with tourists because of its breathtaking beauty.

The main purpose of the excursion is to study the current ecological state of the unique natural complex. The equipment from the convergent biological Pchyolka (Russian: Bee) complex and a LabDisk weather-analytical system from geographical laboratories provided under the “Success of Every Child” project were used to conduct express analyzes of the waterfalls’ ecological state. Biomaterial samples were taken to establish the biodiversity of the aquatic environment of the waterfalls under study.

The students determined only 7 small streams that formed waterfalls from a height of about 60 metres. However, despite the drying up of the small rivers, the geological formation itself continues to make an amazing impression - decades of the water flows working the stone have created unique ‘sculptural’ masterpieces.

In addition to the research work, a situational work was successfully carried out for the development of environmental consciousness using a rapidly changing natural object as an example.

From May 14 to 15, 2022, some USEC Youth Club members, together with several schoolchildren, climbed Mount Totors. The mountaineering event was dedicated to the 77th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.

The main objective of the mountaineering was to study the terrain, flora and fauna of the Khaznidon Gorge located uniquely, as well as to study the response of human physiology to staying in high mountains. A feature of the mountaineering event was the integration of educational and research tasks into a tourist route.

For two days, classes were organized for the students on the physiology of cardiovascular and respiratory systems under hypoxic conditions, as well as on bioecology (identification of rare and endangered plant species listed in the Red Book of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic), navigation, topography, and premedical first aid.

According to the mountaineering plan, the main reference points were reached like the Totors Lakes and the Totors Pass. The ascent of the Totors mountains was suspended at an altitude of 2,800 metres above sea level (the target point was 3,100 m) because it was necessary to minimize health risks due to the thick fog coming on. Despite this, the participants of the mountaineering were satisfied with their achievement as this was their first mountaineering experience in complicated conditions where they used their knowledge of geography, chemistry, biology, ecology, and physics.

From June 6 to 8, 2022, the activists of the USEC Youth Club took part in the activities in the volunteer camp “High-Mountain Union” functioning at the Kabardino-Balkarian High-Mountain State Nature Reserve.

They carried out volunteer work on repairing and cleaning the ecological trail launched in 2014 by the Russian power generating company RusHydro, and visited the Mizhirgi and Bezengi glaciers (the largest in the North Caucasus as for their area).

The main goal of the USEC volunteer camp is to attract young people to preserve the unique nature of the Reserve.

The students from the USEC Youth Club have far-reaching plans. Hussein Guziev, Deputy Director for educational work at the Ecological and Biological Centre, told our correspondent about the plans.

The geography of the areas being studied in the Kabardino-Balkaria will be expanded, new enthusiasts will be invited, it is planned to go to the neighbouring regions to conduct joint educational and eco-volunteer events.

The USEC members will be involved in the protection of rare and endangered plant species, and schoolchildren will take part in regular and systematic monitoring. To expand access of information, new forms and methods of eco-education will be developed and, of course, new eco-trails within the reach of the neighbouring villages will be developed and launched.

On July 5, the USEC Youth Club members were awarded badges and certificates TOURIST OF RUSSIA, the awarding ceremony was held at the Ministry of Resorts and Tourism of the KBR.

Note: The TOURIST OF RUSSIA badge is awarded to tourists who reached the age of 12 and took part in one or more at least 5-day hiking trips within one year covering at least 75 kilometres going by foot or in their ski trips, or covering at least 100 kilometres travelling by boats, kayaks, rafts, catamarans, or travelled at least 150 kilometres by bicycles or riding a horse, or travelled at least 500 kilometres by motorcycles or 1,000 kilometres by cars and improved their basic knowledge and skills in travelling, or are advanced tourists.