Environmental programme shares learning with visitors

All fired up . . . Education co-ordinators (back, from left) Danielle Parke, of Dunedin's Town Belt Kaitiaki, Robert Stratford, of Porirua, Alishea Dench, of the Department of Conservation, Sian Moffitt, of Taupo, Josie Roberts, of Taranaki, Taylor Davies-Colley, of Town Belt Kaitiaki, (front, from left) Claudia Babirat, of Town Belt Kaitiaki, Tireni Ratema, of Rotorua, and Becky McCormack, of Porirua, after a two-day hui in Dunedin last week. PHOTO: JESSICA WILSON

Education co-ordinators from the North Island visited Dunedin last week to gain an understanding of how a local environmental programme became so successful.

Five guests, from Taranaki, Porirua, Taupo and Rotorua, joined Dunedin’s Town Belt Kaitiaki team for a two-day hui on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Taupo programme, Kids Greening Taupo, has been running for about four years, and co-ordinators are seeking to establish programmes in Taranaki, Rotorua and Porirua.

Town Belt Kaitiaki education co-ordinator Claudia Babirat said the Dunedin programme was more successful than people expected, so they shared how they managed to get so many schools on board quickly

Fifteen schools and early childhood centres are involved in the programme.

Department of Conservation national outreach and education co-ordinator Alishea Dench said the group talked about governance and sustainability of the programme.

They visited Town Belt Kaitiaki leadership site, discussed other programmes and went to the opening of Otago Polytechnic’s School of Design exhibition “Debrief”.

The school’s students collaborated with Town Belt Kaitiaki earlier in the year, and some of their work was on display.

Ms Dench said it was “fascinating” how beneficial it was for teachers to reflect on the success they had had in their schools.

Town Belt Kaitiaki leadership group members also shared their experiences, she said.

“I have been really, really impressed by how willing the local people have been in sharing with the visitors.”

Kids Greening Taupo education co-ordinator Sian Moffitt said although the co-ordinators had met online, this was the first time they had all been together in person.

“It’e been awesome getting together with people that we normally only see online.”

Sharing information in person was “so important” as it allowed them to talk about what did and did not work in their areas.

It was a busy few days, but the co-ordinators were “all going home with new knowledge and excitement”, Ms Moffitt said.