Kent Ridge Heritage Trail Walks – PART 2!

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Despite the rain forecast for Monday evening, 27 participants (and 7 guide trainees) joined us for our bimonthly walk along the Kent Ridge Heritage Trail!

Oi Yee set off with the first group, flanked by three trainees, Sankar, Ingsind and Becky. Right off the bat, Oi Yee wows the crowd by talking about a commonly seen but rarely noticed plant – Simpoh air

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As we walked along, we saw some red seeds scattered on the road. “Does anyone know what these are?” Oi Yee asked. One of the participants piped up, “Saga seeds!” Excitedly, Oi Yee explained how she used to play with the seeds as a girl.

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The participants walked around, picking up the seeds to get a closer look at them! DSC06952

Soon, we encountered Nepenthes gracilis, or slender pitcher plants, growing on the side of the road. These carnivorous plants trap insects in their pitcher-shaped modified leaf tips.

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Oi Yee also reminisced about how she used to walk the ridge in her younger days. She recounts how she used to sit on the stone wall and stare out to the sea. The wall itself was built by the British and still stands by the side of the road today!

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Oi Yee playfully talked about the Hibiscus, another beautiful plant that can be found on the Ridge.

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The walk ended at the Gap where we took a photo in the fading light, where the commemorative marble plaque marking the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Kent was laid.

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The third group led by Siva- consisting of guide trainees Lynn, Cherry, Hui Zhen, and Zong Xian – eagerly started along the trail as Siva describes to us the techniques of guiding on the ridge.

We started off revising self-introductions and giving a brief history of the ridge before learning more about the ecology and significance of some plants along the ridge! From the bright yellow flowers of Simpoh Air, to the sweet scent of crushed Smilax, the group of us strolled along Kent Ridge Road feverishly scribbling notes while pondering how best to describe the plant to future walk participants.

Siva recounted his experiences with guiding the Kent Ridge Road and shared tips on how to engage the audience, with eight pairs of ears listening intently to his stories. It wasn’t long before the enjoyable walk ended at S2, and the group of us lingered by the stairs listening to his stories while getting abused by his handy umbrella.

At the end of this impromptu training, we were left in awe at the rich history of the Ridge as well as the budding biodiversity of this small green patch in NUS.

More photos of our walk can be found on Flickr!

Would you like to find out more about this amazing trail right in NUS? Do keep a look out for our next walk!

BoSS IV planning now under way! First Subcommittee meeting – 20 Mar 2015, 6.30pm

Preparations are now under way for our FOURTH Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium (BoSS) which will be happening on 1 Aug 2015 (Sat)! 

Held once every four years, the BoSS is a great opportunity for the local biodiversity community to gather, socialise, and find out more about each other’s on-going projects!

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15 of us enthusiastically came together last Friday evening to kick-start the planning of the BoSS IV!

Over two hours, we looked through the general timeline, explained everyone’s roles and responsibilities, and discussed ideas and ideals over cake (courtesy of Dr. Joelle Lai, thank you!). With the dates and venue now decided, each sub-committee will now dedicate their time to making BoSS IV a huge success!

To know what to expect, do check out the webpages for our past BoSS here:

More exciting details will come really soon so do keep a look out!

LKCNHM Volunteers Engagement Tea

In an effort to thank existing and welcome new volunteers, LKCNHM hosted a Volunteers Engagement Tea on Saturday, 28 Feb 2015. The galleries and their resident dinosaurs are a long way off (wait for April) from being ready to receive visitors. So it was the LKCNHM Learning Lab which hosted volunteers, Museum Associates and museum staff with the chance to catch up, network, and get a feel for the new museum environment.

Eager faces appeared in the environs of LKCNHM by 9.00 am, and seats filled by 9.45am – a good 15 minutes before the start of the welcome speech by Prof. Peter Ng and Prof. Leo Tan!

Prof. Peter Ng giving the welcome speech to the huge turnout!

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Prof. Leo Tan introducing the great history of the museum to the participants

Dr. Joelle Lai provided an overview of the museum’s volunteer programme which has roots in the 90’s and officially began in 2000 – a good 15 years ago! She highlighted well known volunteer programmes which emerged back then such as the Public Exhibitions, Pasir Panjang Heritage Trail, Pedal Ubin, International Coastal Cleanup Singapore and the Sungei Buloh Anniversary Walk. More recently we have seen Project Semakau, the Otter Cycling Trail, Love MacRitchie walks, and even more recently, curatorial assistants!

The audience then obligingly regrouped and were crowd-sourced for ideas, expectations and suggestions for the new museum volunteer programme. Active chatter filled the Learning Lab as ideas and suggestions from their combined experience made for a productive 30-minute discussion.

Then, a quick sneak peak of the upcoming museum through some small windows and then to tea! Volunteers and staff had a great time mingling amidst the breezy courtyard around the museum, full of anticipation for April, when the LKCNHM doors will be finally open!

It was truly a lovely day, with friends from over a decade of volunteer work and some fresh faces, combine to signal a happy and supportive community behind the museum! Only one word for it – priceless!

Photos our Flickr at: Part 1 and Part 2!

HOWL at the Moon 12 – A Gathering of Toddycats!

Although the moon was only in its Waning Crescent phase, the time was nigh for the Toddycats to gather and HOWL! So, on the 16th of February, 40 Toddycats came together to catch up, meet new people and get updated on the latest happenings.

Chaired by Joelle and Alvin, HOWL 12 started off with everyone’s favourite – food! Everyone gathered outside the DBS Conference Room for a bite (or many bites) of pizza before starting HOWL proper with a happy stomach. New faces were introduced and everyone (old and new) swiftly warmed up to each other!

Toddycats were updated on recent events by the interns including the revival of the Kent Ridge Heritage Walks (Sankar), Himalayan Mutt Project (Lynn), as well as the upcoming World Water Day Coastal Clean up (Becky).

Sumita gave us a wonderful report on Ubin Day in 2014 and shared with us the tears and laughter of being a WILD Intern who enthusiastically helped lay the foundations for Ubin Day!

We had updates from Chloe Tan on the Love MacRitchie Walks, again reminding us about the importance of MacRitchie and how precious our forest patches are. We don’t mind walking a bit more if the Cross Island Line can be realigned to avoid the fragile forest! This brought about a discussion on ways to engage the public without bringing them to nature parks, a topic we should always keep in mind!

Following Chloe’s report, Weiting gave us a very detailed splendid report on the Bukit Timah closure; showing us the importance of the Bukit Timah closure and its impact on the various group of people. Weiting’s report further shows the importance of social media in disseminating information – the power of Facebook!

Finally, with Joelle keeping a close watch on the time, we ended off a joyous HOWL with the formation of BOSS 4 sub-committees! A major event happening this July, do keep an eye out for our FORTH Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium!

All photos of HOWL can be found in our flickr album!

Himalayan Mutt Project 5-day Fundraiser

Prior to the talk by Debby Ng, Toddycats and NUS PEACE worked hand-in-hand to hold a five-day fundraiser in NUS. From 4 Feb 2015 to 10 Feb 2015, we spoke to many students and staff about the Himalayan Mutt Project to raise awareness and funds, and also to inform them about Debby’s talk on Wednesday, 11 Feb 2015!

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Sankar with NUS PEACE members Aaron and Dewi ready to start our day!

For five days, we tirelessly covered grounds at NUS Central Library Walkway as well as UTown. Most people cringed at the plight of the dogs, others hoped to do more to help Debby and her team in Himalayas. Many further expressed interest in attending the talk by Debby on Wednesday! Any small amount of donation from them will go a long way and we were extremely grateful for all their help!

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Sankar eagerly explaining the project to an NUS student.

Approaching people for all five days to raise funds for the project was no easy feat, and reinforcements often brighten up our day so much!

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Reinforcement, Becky Lee (ICCS Intern) and her cousin putting a huge smile to our faces!

You can find out more about the Himalayan Mutt Project at pozi.be/mutts now! The Himalayan Mutt Project has reached its target as of today, but any donations are still very much welcomed!

The Himalayan Mutt Project by Debby Ng!

Hosted by NUS Peace and Toddycats, Debby Ng, co-founder of the Himalayan Mutt Project was invited to share her inspiring story of how this project started in 2014. Warmly welcomed by Mr Sivasothi, Debby shared her story with an audience of close to 40 people. Many showed their support for the project!

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A warm welcome to Debby!

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Introducing the #SG50interns: Lynn & Sankar will change the world!

Joelle and I are ecstatic to have two interns to torture in this special year of SG50! Thanks to NUS’ Provost Office who egged us on, we now have two young firebrands to amplify the nature and environment education potential of our undergraduates and extend the number of opportunities for the public to discover their natural heritage. They are, in essence, going to unravel the bottleneck caused by our teaching, research and administrative roles.

At our first meeting, we had Lynn and Sankar warmed up immediately by getting the first Kent Ridge Walk off the ground, had recruitment initiated for a workshop for new guides and then they dived into supporting the Himalayan Mutt Project through a talk in NUS and sales of merchandise in collaboration with NUS PEACE.

In the midst of the flurry of learning the tricks of the trade, they were made to pen their introductions which we are happy to feature here. This also serves notice to the the world at large that if they come knocking at your door (or email), realise that Toddycats have a much more efficient mechanism this year – fuelled by the NUS Toddycats’ #sg50interns!

Wish them happiness!

SG 50 Intern – Lynn Ng

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About yourself

Hello! I am Lynn, a recent graduate with a firm interest in animal welfare, I was a in NUS PEACE for two years and have frequently helped plan and organize road shows, fundraising events, and symposiums. A large part of my undergraduate life was actually spent away from campus, and you may have instead found me with a foot stuck in mud in Costa Rica, netting damselflies in Munich, marking Lyssa zampa in parts of Singapore, or just scurrying around hugging unwilling dogs and cats.

What you are looking forward to
One thing I am definitely looking forward to is working with a great bunch of enthusiastic individuals all eager to make a difference in Singapore. Apart from gaining new knowledge and perspectives, I also look forward to the exciting challenges of planning and organizing outreach activities in order to pique interest in more people! More importantly, I look forward to Singapore having a great environmental outreach scene this year, and to finally seeing those dinosaur fossils for myself!

What you can see happening in the next few months.
I can also definitely see myself becoming really busy planning for a flurry of events in the months to come. But more importantly, apart from an impending backache and headache, I also see the next few months to be so full of activities that it will be a great year for nature enthusiasts to come together in this significant 2015. The revival of the Kent Ridge Heritage Walks, opening of LKCNHM and the Biodiversity Symposium are just some of the key events due to happen this year, with many more to come!

SG 50 Intern – A Sankar

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About me

Hi! My name is Sankar and I’m one of the new Toddycats interns! If you see a tall, skinny, Indian guy hunched over a computer this semester, it’s probably me… I just finished my NS and I’ll be matriculating into Faculty of Science this August. I’m really looking forward to it! Anyway, I love being in nature and I spend a large portion of my time walking around nature trails with my friends looking for snakes. I hope to be a herpetologist some day and work with these horribly misunderstood (and amazingly cool) animals.

What I’m looking forward to

I’m really looking forward to meeting people who are passionate about nature and conservation. I’m also trying to expand my horizons. As I’m more accustomed to fieldwork, doing administrative work provides a refreshing insight into what goes on behind the scenes of every single walk and event that we hold. I’m honestly very glad to finally be able to do something meaningful with my time (after 2 years of NS).

The next three months

The next three months are going to be busy, frankly. It’s SG50, NUS110 and the Museum is finally opening its doors again. So there will be no shortage of things to do. I’m very excited for the Kent Ridge Heritage Trail, which is being revived after quite some time. We are also in the midst of organizing the next Toddycats HOWL, which will be a great opportunity for us to meet up and find out what’s going on. Of course, the perennial Love Macritchie Walks are always something to look forward to. And last but most certainly not least, the opening of the Museum! I can’t wait to see those fossils…