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Waikato schools and early childhood centres have got projects galore!  Here's just a few of the ones that have been documented lately...

Silver for Hillcrest High School

On Nov 1st, 2017,  a day of reflection was held to see whether Hillcrest High School's (HHS) journey of sustainability had reached Enviroschools Silver status.

Present were Mary McKnight (Enviroschool Lead Teacher), HHS Environment Council (15 students), Adrienne Grant (HHS’s Enviroschool Facilitator), Ruairi Kelly (School Programmes Coordinator WRC, Bridget Glasgow (Auckland Regional Council) and Beccy Dove (Thames area facilitator)

Prior to the day, Adrienne and Mary had planned a programme. It involved a welcome (mihi by Durrell our Pou Tama) and introductions and the revisiting of the 5 Guiding principles underpinning Enviroschools.

This was followed by several tours (of our Recycling Systems, School gardens and School Artwork). Students led these tours giving a running commentary and answering questions from the facilitators. 

Back in the library (venue for the day), talks were given by Jodie Terry (teacher of Business Studies and JEEP) as to how sustainability themes and the inquiry cycle were incorporated into her subjects. Adam N spoke of his and others involvement with the restoration of Humare Gully – HHS’s designated gully project and Katie S spoke about her 5 week experience on the Yr 10 Great Barrier trip. 

During the talks and walks, evidence was gathered and written on leaf shaped paper. The students then sorted this evidence as to which Guiding Principle it fell under and the leaves were pasted onto the appropriate branch of a tree. Also, future actions were recorded as “seeds” beneath the tree.

Finally, the paragraph containing the description of a silver Enviroschool was examined sentence by sentence to see whether we were indeed doing what the sentence described, There was plenty of evidence to show that we indeed are!

A celebration of our gaining Silver status will take place next year in a formal ceremony. We will be presented with signage to show our status. I believe it makes another point of difference for HHS. We must however maintain our present programmes and practices but more importantly move forward on our journey of sustainability. We have many good ideas as to how we can do this!

Mary Mcknight (HHS Enviroschools Lead teacher) 

Hundreds attend Enviroschools Karapiro event

In October 2017, over 200 pupils and nearly 50 teachers from 22 schools in Hamilton and the wider Waikato took part in an event supporting Catalysts for Change.

“We worked with schools, community groups, business and council staff to deliver activities focused on the Enviroschools guiding principles of learning for sustainability, empowering students, sustainable communities and Maori perspectives”, says Enviroschools Waikato regional coordinator Ruairi Kelly.
 

“It involved pupils learning many new things, being inspired to find out more and identifying actions they can use when back at school or at home.”

Pupils talked about how much they enjoyed activities such as learning how to test water’s quality, making rope from flax, hunting for bugs, pest control and much more.

“The enthusiasm of these pupils bodes well for the care of our regional environment in future,” says Ruairi.
 
Story and photo provided by Newsie.co.nz 2017.

Newcastle Kindergarten presented with Green-Gold status

Several years of earth-saving work has paid off for Newcastle Kindergarten which has reached the highest level in the Enviroschools programme. The Centre is the second kindergarten in the Waikato to be recognised.

Head teacher Tanz Podjursky said it was a "sense of empowerment" for the teaching staff and children to achieve the award. 

One of the Kindergarten's proudest accomplishments is assisting with the Hakarimata planting project run by  Waikato District Council. Once a term the children will visit the site to be involved with the maintenance of the plants they have grown.

An ultimate goal is to become a zero-waste centre, which the kindy is well on its way to achieving.

May 2017

Congratulations Goldfields School on your Green-Gold Reflection!

Principal Gary Quarless is impressed at the level of accomplishment the students and staff have made, and proud of the depth of teaching and learning.

Gary stated how "The external facilitators, two of whom were part of the team who originally set up Enviroschools, were quite simply blown away by our efforts. One even said "if only mainstream school could see what your staff and students do", a huge compliment to everyone's capability and work," he said.

The presentations from student leaders from each class developed over the last term were a real highlight. The presentations included how P1 recycles and reuses, the Paper for Trees project, how to make and care for raised gardens, the art of making good compost and taking food scraps from the kitchen to feed the worms.

The following student leaders received a special mention for awesomeness from Gary: Andrew Trow, Caleb Starkey, Liam Grant, Logan Sissons, Maia Kauika, Mark Johns and Patrick Bond.

December 2016

Bringing back the birds to the Hauraki Plains

  

Students at Netherton Primary have initiated a vision to ‘bring back the birds’ to the Hauraki Plains. A milestone was realized this year when children planted out the first of the native trees that they had grown themselves in kahikatea remnant on a local farm.

Over five years ago, children were learning about ‘Te Ngahere’ and observed there were no native birds present at the school. They researched and invited a ranger from the Department of Conservation to give advice on how to bring back the birds. They discovered the kahikatea forest remnants on the Plains are the remains of a giant forest which once covered the entire area. They learnt that by securing these remnants through fencing and under-planting they would be able to provide habitat for birds which would also act as ‘bird islands’ for them to fly between.

They created an action plan to achieve this, learning that these stands were dying because of stock grazing under their canopy and there was no second generation forest to take their place. A meeting was held inviting local farmers to be part of the project. A partnership was also formed with Waikato Regional Council (WRC) who were happy to be part of providing some trees and to work with farmers to support them in fencing off existing stands of trees.

Last year WRC supplied around 700 trees and the children helped plant them. Meanwhile the school became part of the Trees for Survival Programme with funding from the Fonterra Grassroots Fund. This would allow them to grow their own native trees with a purpose built plant growing unit.

The Trees for Survival plant growing unit was set up in 2015 and the children had grown a mix of approx 500 manuka, harakeke, kahikatea, karamu and carex. This year the seedlings were ready to be planted out under a kahikatea remnant on Peter Corlett’s nearby farm, creating a precious understory of natives for the existing giants. Netherton Principal Tracey Adams sees it as “a great way to give back to the community” and intends for the ‘Kahikatea Project’ to be sustained long into the future. Mr Corlett said “It’s a great idea … it’s important what we do in our life… in years to come these kids will drive past this with their kids and know they have done something good”.

Netherton children hope by then, the birds will have made it back to their little school on the Hauraki Plains.

Article from Waikato Enviroschools blog, September 2016

Planting partnership bears many fruits

June 2016

A planting partnership between an award-winning Waikato farmer and children from his local school is bearing environmental fruit on many levels. Children from Tauwhare School between Hamilton and Cambridge recently visited dairy farmer Frank Portegys’ Scotsman Valley Rd farm for the fourth year on the trot to plant trees designed to protect waterways. Our pictures show children getting stuck into the work and a close up of five-year-old Shaun Mayall with a new planting.

The visits to Frank’s farm have been part of Tauwhare’s participation in the Enviroschools programme, which is supported by Waikato Regional Council. The council has also provided some $1500 in financial support to Frank under the Piako catchment’s new works programme aimed at protecting waterways from the effects of farming. Over the years, more than 1000 trees have been planted with school and council assistance on the property’s wetlands and besides its waterways. Tauwhare’s Enviroschools lead teacher Linda Cook – who praises Frank’s assistance for the schools’ programme - says the children get a lot out of visiting the farm.

“The benefit for the children is it’s embedding understanding around the importance of clean waterways. And, also, they’re getting to do work of direct benefit in their local area, and they can see the plants growing over time,” says Linda. Frank says he’s very keen to protect waterways in the area and enhance the environment generally, and is grateful for the pupils’ help.

“If you ask everyone they always want clean water. If you don’t do it properly, dairying is going to have effect on water,” says Frank, whose property has won awards in the Waikato section of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Council catchment management officer Warren Coffey says farmers can apply for up to 35 per cent of the costs of fencing and planting to protect and enhance waterways and wetlands, as well as soil conservation work such as preventing steep hillside erosion.

“It’s our way of supporting famers to make changes on their property that help provide environmental benefits for the wider community.” Ruairi Kelly, the council’s schools programmes coordinator, said the visits have enabled the Tauwhare children to learn about both the environment and farming.

“Tauwhare has done really well under Enviroschools – they’re a high-ranking Green-Gold school. “Enviroschools in the Waikato Region is supported by a team of facilitators who work with schools to engage on a long-term journey of learning and action over environmental issues. The work of Frank’s farm has been a great partnership between a proactive and caring farmer, and a school that’s been working really well on the environmental protection front.”

Article from Scoop Media

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