Young Environmental Leaders Launch New Board

4 March 2015 / Posted by Janszoon Education

A group of the Nelson Tasman region's future environmental leaders have met for the first time as part of a student led advisory board tasked with helping in the restoration of the Abel Tasman National Park.

The Student Advisory Board is part of Project Janszoon and the Department of Conservation’s Adopt a Section programme.  It will see four students each from partner schools Motueka High School, Golden Bay High School and Motupipi School meet regularly and step into leadership roles for the programme.

The students met for the first time at a two-day retreat held at Onetahuti in the Abel Tasman National Park in late February.  Motueka High School Year 13 student Halina Horn says it was an awesome weekend.

“We are the next generation of conservationists and you do need to get younger people involved so there are people to take over.  I have grown up with quite a strong conservation background so this is an opportunity to get involved in something that interests me and make a difference,” she says.

Four students and one teacher from each of the three partner schools make up the advisory board, along with a representative from DOC and Project Janszoon.  While there are adult members on the board, all meetings are led by students who plan agendas and focus on areas that interest them.

Motupipi teacher Helen Young attended the retreat and says the students left the weekend buzzing and it was great to see them being empowered by their involvement.

“The students showed a real maturity about understanding what would be involved and the role of an advisory board.  They were not daunted by the idea they were leading this and that was inspiring to see,” she says.

One of the highlights of the weekend retreat was a visit to Adele Island where the group encountered inquisitive robins and a few saw some of the recently introduced saddleback.

Project Janszoon education advisor Wendy Reeve says the retreat was a huge success with the students bonding across schools and nurturing their leadership skills.

“There are kids of all ages and I was impressed at how quickly they grew in things like decision making, building consensus and communicating.  They left the weekend feeling like they were part of something bigger and are excited and energised about going back to their schools and sharing about their new roles.”

The Adopt a Section programme uses the restoration of the Abel Tasman National Park as a context for learning and for engaging students in the on-going conservation and restoration activities in the Park.

The purpose of the Student Advisory Board is to provide students from all of the partner schools an opportunity to connect with each other and to develop as future environmental leaders.  Board members will also be the ambassadors for the programme both regionally and nationally.

Special thanks must go to Robin, from CampEasy, who provided the group with tents, sleeping mats, kitchen set-up and all of the comforts of camp.  Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle also provided transport and a trip on the Mollymawk and Aqua Taxi provided logistics transport.