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Modern Shepherds
Start date: Feb 1, 2015, End date: May 31, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The “Modern Shepherds” Youth Exchange took place between the 18th and the 25th of April 2015 in Allariz (Ourense) and brought together 43 young people from 5 European countries (Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Romania and Greece) around two main issues, environmental awareness and entrepreneurship in rural areas. The exchange was organized by the Ramón González Ferreiro Foundation and participants were hosted on its hostel during it, with Exchange activities taking place in the hostel itself as well as in the Environmental Education Centre “O Rexo”, also managed by the Foundation. The main objective of the exchange was that, through debate, non formal education and the direct contact with nature, the young participants could be aware of the main environmental issues affecting their countries, and to let them get first hand knowledge of the land management experience that is being undertaken in Allariz around its Biosphere Reserve, through innovative entrepreneurial initiatives in the rural environment. Other specific objectives of the exchange were the raising of awareness towards nature conservation, the observation of local flora and fauna, getting them to know the Biosphere Reserve “Área de Allariz”, as well as introducing them to the work and routine of a sheep farm and cheese maker as an example of a rural activity, as well as general objectives for European youth exchanges such as the promotion of coexistence, tolerance, solidarity and participation in a multicultural group, the promotion of awareness on cultural diversity and of intercultural dialogue, the stimulation of team spirit through outdoors activities, the promotion of an active sense of citizenship amongst European young people, the promotion of mobility of young people through Europe, non formal education and raising awareness about the importance of an active citizenship and the civic participation of youngsters in society at every level, local, national and European. Participants were young people of between 18 and 30, and were selected according to their interest and sensibility about the environment and “green” behaviours, as well as their possible interest in developing entrepreneurial projects or personal initiatives in rural areas. The activities undertaken during the exchange consisted in debate sessions about the environment and the rural world, work groups about the main environmental issues of participating countries, visits to the environmental education centre “O Rexo”, during which the could get to know first hand the activity and routing of a sheep farm and the tasks of milking, shearing and cheese making, sessions of hiking and getting to know the natural environment of Galicia and the Allariz environs, visits to the village of Allariz, environmental work of river cleaning on the banks of the Arnoia river, and meetings with rural entrepreneurs from the biosphere reserve “Área de Allariz”, with team building sessions, presentations about Erasmus+ and outdoors activities of games and sports filling the agenda. The results of the project were extremely satisfactory, with the overwhelming majority of the exchange’s objectives being fulfilled. Participants obtained knowledge and tools that will allow them to be more active citizens in their communities, as well as a higher awareness about the main environmental issues of the current day and the reality of life in a rural area.
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