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    The Idea
    The Centre
    The Hostel
    The Organisation
    The Surroundings
    Welcome to Umweltstation Iffens, the multi-faceted Friesian Farm situated on the Butjadigen peninsula. We are a small organic agricultural holding, an independent environmental organisation, a hostel, an educational centre, a space for local arts, and many more things!

    A stone’s throw from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Wattenmeer, surrounded by willows and poplars, fields and furrows you will find us. Bärbel, Wolfgang, Martina, Manlio and Mobby welcome the curious, the interested, the nature lover and those just passing through.

    Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, in the distinctive countryside of the Butjadigen, you can come and learn about the history, geography and culture of the Friesian region, experience life on an accredited organic farm, or go bird-watching in this haven for migratory birds. We also offer specific courses in Environmental areas, and facilities for your own seminars with space for up to 20 guests in our hostel. All this happens in our 130 year old Friesian farmhouse, just a short distance from the salt marshes and mudflats of the Wattenmeer, with the famously invigorating North Sea Air.

    Use the links to the left to navigate through the different sections of this site. If there is something you can’t find then please send us your questions by email.


    Umweltstation Iffens
    dipl päd Bärbel Supper, Dr. rer nat Wolfgang Meiners
    BRD - 26969 Butjadingen / Iffens
    Tel.: 04735-920020 FAX: 04735-920024
    Tel. Gästel.: 04735-920021 ,
    e-mail: umweltstation.iffens@t-online.de


    In a large farmhouse on about 10 ha. of land we try to give interested people an insight into the basics and the connections in the subject area ‘Man and the Environment’ This is done primarily with practical work on projects at the farm, but also in the surrounding area (the Butjadingen). We try not to separate work from general living. An attempt that is fun but not always problem free. Together with many friends we have been renovating the house and setting it up as an eco-workshop for 18 years. For six years we have had girls doing a voluntary ecological year, whose activities support us. At the moment Sigi and Svenja are helping us.

    Our work is supported by ideas and course supplements from neighbours near and far: Gertrud Becker from Nordenham, the Miss Marple of environmental protection, lecturer in industrial damage in Nordenham Hans-Gerd Gerdes, Burhave, guided tours of the mud flats Lissi and Jan Gerdes, Niens, cheese manufacture Paul Hansen, chemistry and all round education and many others.

    The non-profit making Association of Environmental Education in Iffens e.V.- (Association for the promotion of educational practises in nature and the environment) is the sponsor of the educational work. We receive financial support (unfortunately still too little) from private donors. We arrange seminars together with various educational and training establishments, among others with the LEB, the VNB, JANUN, the churches, the employment office in Bremen, the trades unions and universities.


    The environment centre of Iffens lies on 10 ha. of land on the Butjadigen Peninsula. It is housed in the 130 year old Farmhouse and its numerous converted outbuildings. Its location is within a few hundred metres of the World Heritage site Wattenmeer, between the mouths of two rivers, and also in proximity to the industrial areas in Nordenham, Wilhelmshaven and Bremerhaven. Thus, it is ideally situated for studies on the subject of 'Man and the Environment'.

    Heraclitus said that you can't step into the same river twice: The same is true for the environment centre of Iffens. It is in a state of constant flux, being continuously renovated and developed, with the assistance of numerous helpers since its inception in 1978.

    The centre consists of many things:
    0 Various workshops for practical work - a dark room, a drawing/graphics room, plus chemistry and electronics laboratories.
    0 - The 'eco-hostel,' with 22 beds and enough workspace for eco-training seminars and courses.
    0 A library with a large reference section on subjects from Environmental Politics to Language learning. It also contains a substantial fiction section.
    0 Media, materials and teaching modules for environmental education, on such subjects as 'Wattenmeer' and ??????.'
    0 A wood kiln for bread baking and an apple press for juice and wine making.
    0 A large garden for vegetables, fruit and herbs, plus 10 ha. of meadows.
    0 Table tennis, table football, satellite TV and recreation areas.
    0 A sauna for up to ? people
    0 Projects in the pipeline: Solar panel, wind turbine, weather station
    0 The household residents: Bärbel, Manlio, Martina, Mobby and Wolfgang.
    0 The other animals: c. 25 Sheep (Organic accredited), chickens, cats, mice and spiders!

    Because of the remote situation an overnight stay with us is often necessary. Our hostel can accommodate up to 22 people in basic but comfortable rooms, with the provision of a modern kitchen. The accommodation is, however, a secondary purpose of the centre, so please don't expect the Burj Al Arab!


    On the North Sea coast, between Jadebusen and Wesermouth, lies the half-island formed from various influences, the Butjadingen. - The expanse of shallow marsh and the many farmsteads give the landscape its character. - The countryside, protected from floods by tall dykes, has long been used for agriculture, and more recently also for industry. - The saltflats in front of the dykes are reserves for resting and breeding seabirds. - The Wattenmeer, with its unique and varied living conditions, is an easy to see eco-system, and therefore a beloved theme for excursions of school classes, students, or adult education courses. - In various nature reserves, but also in the national park, Lower Saxony Wattenmeer, there is an attempt to preserve the original character of the countryside. To this the ‘swimming moor’ in Sehestedt also belongs. It is the only moor lying outside a dyke in Europe that floats at high tide. - Many modern dangers to the environment are also to be found in the confined space. To these belong heavy metals, asbestos and atomic power in the east, oil, sulphur dioxide, vinyl chloride etc. in the west of Butjadingen. Intensive cattle farming and tourism also cause Butjadingen enormous problems.


    Our association, "Umwelterziehung Iffens e.V." is acknowledged to be of benefit to the community. Around 40 members comprise the society’s structure, at the head is Gertrud Becker from Nordenhham. Our main yearly meeting is regularly held on Ash Wednesday. This association accepts donations and fines . The "Iffens - circle of friends" is a group of donators who permit us the monthly debit of small amounts from their accounts . The association is an official placement for the voluntary ecological year, and engages itself with the regional young persons legal aid. Through the association we can - depending on the number of donations - subsidise the stay of the trainees or even the travel costs (grants programme). We have also been able to organise international projects through the association.

    Donations account:
    Umwelterziehung Iffens e.V.  acc. no.: 368 119 - 302
    Postbank Hannover BLZ 250 100 30


    The Centre of Environmental Education in Iffens is one of the few independent nature and environment organisations. Officially we are an agricultural concern with the particular emphases: research, training and hostelry. We are self-employed and have no fixed income. We live on that which the garden and animal keeping offer us. The necessary money we obtain from the fees we receive for courses or commissions. The voluntary year trainees are provided with a work contract through the state of Lower Saxony and the association of Umwelterziehung Iffens. Other trainees also work voluntarily, if possible with free accommodation and catering, without charge and without wage.

    The costs of the house are shared by all overnight guests. Because of that we have low overnight charges but make neither profit nor loss from the hostelry operation. Investments and costly rebuilding are secured through other incomes (external chemical commissions etc.). Because we carry out almost all of the work ourselves these costs have so far been relatively low. The environmental societies support us morally and with considerable encouragement. In addition we get commissions from various societies for special courses, consultations, development of ideas, certificated examinations, seminars, presentations , readings, lectures, conference management, exhibition design, campaign consultations etc. Our fifteen years’ experience in the protection of nature and the environment, and the practical nature of our work are the key to our success.

    Next contents:
    applied ecology course (Ökopraktikum)
    practical experience for your career (Berufspraktikum)
    group holidays
    walking tows of the mud-flats
    environmental education weekend
    how you can help
    the "Grodenhaus"
    how to reach us


    The follówing courses can be booked by groups (secondary schools, youth groups, teaching-staff etc...). The course topics should be understood as suggestions, and can be altered to suit your needs. (N.B. courses are offered in German only.) Should the participants of a week or weekend course not already know the other members of the group, we recommend a get-together beforehand in your home town. Accommodation is provided in the farmhouse of the "Grodenhaus"- meals are your own responsibility. A kitchen and a selection of fresian recipes are provided for creative cooks! Weekend courses begin Friday evening and end Sunday afternoon. It is also possible to lengthen the period of stay. Dates available on request.

    Course 1: Environmental Education

    Introduction to the development of environmental education to the present day. Methodology of environmental education, illustrated with examples of class instruction, and group projects. Checking the materials and equipment for use in education. Environmental discovery through the Wadden Sea and the farms. Simulation of classroom situations Motivation and public relations Tips, suggestions and concepts to emphasise environmental protection and nature conservation in educational work in and out of the classroom.

    Course 2: For group leaders

    Showing the range of activities available and the interaction between environmental protection groups and nature protection groups. Case studies of coordination of work, comunication, project work and fund-raising. Simulation and publicity about the Wadden sea. The mechanisms of public controversies. Working with the press.

    Course 3: Media and Experiments

    Getting to know and testing the available media and materials Evaluating examples of the media. Analysing the range of applications of various media, with exercises. Experiments to illustrate environmental protection and nature conservation. Planning the use of a medium and working out trial models on chosen topics.

    Course 4: The Wadden Sea

    Introductory slide-show Field trips onto the mud-flats Understanding of the ecosystem 'Wadden Sea', through experiments . Historical development of the Jadebusen Specific topics : Conservation of species diversity, chemical pollution of the wadden sea, and a listing of alternative protests.

    Further course topics

    arise from the special interests and research areas of the helpers and residents at the centre.

    *Photography, photo-lab techniques
    *Methods of chemical analysis
    *Analysing toxic chemicals
    *Agriculture and horticulture
    *Bread baking and nutrition
    *Herbal lore
    *Spinning, weaving and dying with natural products
    *Health and chemicals in the environment
    *Ecology and the third world

    The applied Ecology Course ("Ökopraktikum")


    This is a four week practical course for 12 participants, who are accommodated in our house. At the end of the course, each participant receives a complete certificate, which includes a list of all the topics dealt with. The form and content of the certificate allows its possible recognition towards the participant's formal education.


    -Supplementing and building up of the individual's knowledge and experience in the field of nature conservation and environmental protection -development of critical and judgmental faculties with respect to environmental issues -development of environmental consciousness -independent research of a topic -working and living as a group -Experience of the man - environment relationship. -fun and fantasy -the developoment of a personal environmental consciousness to allow the individual to carry on as an environmental activist in the long term

    3.Target Groups

    The course content is designed for the needs of 5 target groups. In the case of the last three, it serves as a supplementary course. -young people, after completition of their school education-young people about to choose a carear -teachers -people working in the environmental field -people active in environmental groups

    4. Stucture of the course

    In consultation with the course-leaders, the participants choose topics which they work on individually, in groups, or with the course-leader, according to their interests. Along with relevant literature, text-books, press-clippings, experiments and other sources, a set of questions will serve as a guideline for research on each topic. At the same time, the applied ecology course embraces a wide range of practical activities, for example:keeping sheep, making hay, planting, harvesting, cooking..., just some of the many daily tasks, whereby participants can contribute towards the development of the centre. Four to six field-trips are planned: -environmental degradation and conservation in the area: industrial and household waste, tourism, environmental advisary board, environmental committees, clarification plants. -Bremerhaven, with its North Sea museum, navigational museum, and "Morgenstern" museum, conservation authorities, harbour. -cycling-tour:wind mills, moors, glacial land farms, woods, the "Zwischenahner"Lake, the "floating moor", solar panel company -wadden sea.

    5 Contents

    The following grouping of the individual topics can be varied, and is included here to describe the course-content. For one topic, each of the themes should be given equal weight. None of the themes stand alone - each necessasily touches upon all the others.

    Theme 1:  Learning about and observing nature
    Observation of the wadden sea at low and high tides
    Living conditions of the salt water flora.
    Bird-life of the wadden sea.
    Soil-structure development along the coast.
    Weather observations and typical weather pattern.
    Recording weather statistics
    The natural garden
    Observation of animal behavior
    Experiments with plants
    Protective measures in nature conservation areas
    Theme 2:  Experience and skills with materials
    Woodwork eg. how too build bird-boxes and display cases
    Building models for regional planning, or for harnessing
       wind and solar energy
    Building electrical circuits
    Documentation with photographs and photo-laboratory skills
    Building toys form rubbish
    Printing skills: transfer, offset etc...
    Technical drawing and graphics
    Building materials
    Textiles:spinning, weaving, dying, batik
    Theme 3:  Conventional environmental protection
    Air, air-pollution and atmosphere
    Water, water-cycle, drinking water
    Effluent, water treatment plants
    Soil, its prepatation and agricultural usage
    Waste, waste-management and rubbish dumps
    Radioactivity and radiation
    Toxic chemicals in the environment
    Food, food additives and their analysis
    Noise, its measurement and reduction
    Regional planning and traffic
    Theme 4:  Resources
    Solar energy
    Wind energy
    Heat pumps
    Storage and use of energy
    The electrical power industry
    Nuclear power plants
    The earth's raw materials and their availability for exploitation
    The food situation
    Population development
    Theme 5:  Social Environment
    Concepts of work and leisure
    Structure and responsibility of the health sector
    Fundamentals of economic models
    Municipal environmental planning, environmental committees
    Planning and role-playing games
    Discussions- strategies and rhetoric
    Rational problem solving
    Structure of interest groups and the "enviornmental scene"
    Exercises in self-awareness
    Environmental awareness as a basis for political activity.
    Theme 6:  Increasing Public Awareness in Environmental Issues.
    Determining possible target groups of an interest group
    Communication aids
    Role-playing simulation of a public controversy
    Creative possibiliies for an "environmental day"
    Listing of possible protest measures
    Planning and holding public displays
    Working in committees
    Evaluating laws for environmental protection
    The press and how to deal with it
    Analysis of advertising techniques
    Lectures, courses and other events
    Four weeks of applied ecology - impressions

    It's not easy for me to sum up my many experiences during the last four weeks: it was more than a matter of absorbing new information and ideas: In the applied ecology course, I experienced something which had been rarely presented in my studies - project work. For our topic BIOGAS, the questions ranged form "What biochemical processes take place in the production of biogas ?" to "From which farmer can I get which nature ?" to "How economical can the production of biogas be ?" As far as our work was concerned, we weren't out to obtain detailed knowledge on a specialised subject - more important for us was to understand the relationships involved. Okay, so I still don't know the latin names of the saltwater plants, but I have learned something about the relationships between the plants, birds and soil organisms on the mud-flats, and about the threats to this ecosystem. It was rewarding for me to be able to totally involve myself in the work. The deciding factor was the way we lived together during the four weeks - the normal separation of work, spare-time, study, sprot, political activity was abolished. I developed a greater sensitivity to my environment. Apart from that, I learned a whole load of practical skills, from baking bread to developing photographs to building roofs. The month at Iffens was really great - I got to know lots of lovely people, and was terribly sad when I had to go.

    Practical experience for your career ("Berufspraktikum")

    Facing us in Butjadingen are many pressing, contemporary problems, which we work on in co-operation with regional municipalities, government and research institutions. Students who, during their studies, spend time in practical field work, can therefore find topics here. Intended are students studying the following subjects: Geography, Biology, Ecology, Sociology and Pedagogics. The individual's research will form the basis of our regional work.

    *mapping vegetation
    *rejuvenating ditches and ponds
    *water resources management
    *conflicting agricultural land-uses
    *tourism in the coastal resorts
    *industrialisation of the coast
    *causes of tree death
    *new measures for the preservation of historical buildings
    *environmental education in the classroom

    The lecturers responsible should be consulted for the guidance of the research and its recognition. Please inquire as to the individual topics, dates and financing.

    Group Holidays

    Groups, or large families with a flair for improvisation, can rent the upper storey of our house. It comprises of approx. 200m² - four rooms with twelve beds, bathroom and kichen, as well as a large work/play area. During your stay here, you have access to all the centre's resources.You may use our library, media resources and equipment. You can help work on our projects, ranging from alternative gardening to building sorar-panels. According to your interests, you can get to know more about nature conservetion (wadden sea, moors, birds etc..) and the environmental protection (Nordenham, Wilhelmshaven)

    Walking tours of the mud-flats

    From the middle of July onwards, we offer groups tours of the mud-flats. *Introduction to the ecology of the wadden sea, with an ensuing tour of the mud-flats (Approx. 2-4 hours)

    Working Holiday

    Our centre is a large, old farmhouse with a garden. We need your help to maintain it and keep it running. So if you want to help... The varied work is instructive, fun and leaves enough spare time to explore the surrounding area. Please ask for details of the specific projects.

    Environmental education Weekend

    All teachers, group-leaders etc.. who are involved in environmental education are invited to an environmental education weekend. The chief purpose of this get-together is to exchange ideas and discuss environmental issues. The weekend won't be lacking in fun and imagination, and, of course, you'll get to know the centre for environmental education.


    Please spread the word about the work at the centre aiming at your friends and acquaintances.

    How to reach us

    You can reach the centre by car: from the east and the north, via the Bremen motorway- junction, along the A 27 towares Bremerhaven as far as Stotel. Take the Desesforf-Kleinensiel ferry across the River Weser. Then follow signs to Nordenham, until Ellwürden. Turn off towards the North Sea resorts. In Stollhamm, take the road towards Tossens. For the final stretch, see sketch map. From the south and west, along the A 29 towards Wilhelmshaven as far as Varel/Obenstrohe. Then along the B 437 towards Rodenkirchen as far as Diekmannshausen, and there turn off to the left towards Stollhamm. For final stretch, see sketch map. by train: the nearest station is in Nordenham, via Bremen/Hude. On school-days, bus number 9 travels from there as far as Iffens, and bus number 8 to Stollhamm. Please phone if you need to be picked up.

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