Our greatest resource are our people who continue to learn and share alongside each other and build the puna mātauranga of Enviroschools, honour the kaupapa and evolve the practice.
We have invited facilitators to supply us with a few photos of themselves at work or in your favourite place and to spend a few minutes answering the following questions:
- Length of time in Kaupapa
- your passion
- favourite facilitation moment
- funniest or most challenging facilitation moment
- complete this sentence… Enviroschools is…
Let’s see what they say!
Anna Cunningham – Environmental Education Facilitator, Waikato
I’m Anna Cunningham from Enviroschools Waikato. My role is Environmental Education Facilitator.
Length of time in Kaupapa – I started in September 2019, so almost 4 years! A big chunk of that was through COVID though, so I still feel like I’m near the start of my Enviroschools journey.
My passion is supporting people of all ages to remember that they are part of the natural world, not separate from it, and what’s best for Papatūānuku is often best for humans too.
My favourite facilitation moments have been with Secondary aged students. Teenagers who care, REALLY care! This gives me hope for the future… there are some amazing young leaders here in the Waikato. We’ve run overnight Climate Action Camps for this age group over the past couple of years, which has been lots of fun and a great opportunity to offer something special for our secondary enviro-leaders. (See banner image). As a follow-on from these camps, we invited all attendees to a Leadership Skills Day, which we ran in collaboration with Waikato Regional Council’s Learning & Development team. We spent the day exploring the idea that leadership is what creates change, and that we can all be leaders using our unique skills and passions. We looked at personality profiles, communication strategies, and how to navigate difficult situations. The day was really fun and also super useful for all attendees. It was great to be able to bring these useful insights and life-skills to young people – I wish I’d learnt these things in school!
The funniest or most challenging facilitation moment was when I was asked to speak at the senior assembly of one of my Secondary Schools during their Enviro Week. I was given 5 mins to talk on ‘why we should protect the environment’ – not a small topic eh?! It was a large school, so I had 1,000 pairs of teenage eyes watching me, which was fairly daunting! I started my presentation by asking them to imagine that they were in a place in nature that they cared about, and then consider how important it was to them that that place was looked after. Ripples of chatter started around the room, and I was worried that I might lose the crowd. At that point, the DP came to stand next to me. She didn’t say a word, but I could feel her power and the respect the students had for her. The chatting stopped straight away!!
Enviroschools is… the most fun job I’ve ever had!
Gill Stewart – Facilitator, Wairarapa, Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui and Facilitator Support, National Enviroschools team
Ko Takitimu te maunga
Ko Te Ara-a-Kiwa te moana
Ko Uruao me Takitimu te waka
Ko Ngāi Tahu te iwi,
No Murihiku ahau.
Ko Wairarapa tōku kainga
Kei Enviroschools Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui ki Wairarapa e mahi ana
Ko Gill Stewart tōku ingoa.
Ngā mihi nui ki a whānau o Enviroschools.
Although my heart is in Te Wai Pounamu even after 22 years away, I am very much in love with the Wairarapa. My oldest daughter is an Enviroschools pepi. She came to the training with me in Whaingaroa, still in my belly, to my first meeting, which was with a principal, and was rocked by many a teacher as I led staff meetings. Anika is now 18 years old.
As a teacher I advocated for Enviroschools to be funded in the Wairarapa and then with encouragement from our RC and well-loved mother of all, Jan Cox, I ended up being the first facilitator in the Masterton district. It started as a 10 hour a week role, which was good for a brand-new mum. Now my role covers all of the Wairarapa with twice as many hours.
I kept the Regional Coordinator seat warm in Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui (Wellington region) for a short time. However, tamariki and kaiako and being out in the taiao are more my thing rather than councils, budgets, and team management.
My passion is community and fostering learning. Connecting people with people and people with our beautiful taiao brings me great joy. My mantra is if you do nothing else foster awe and wonder and if everyone understood that everything is connected, our job would be done.
My favourite facilitation times are when I bring people together in workshops, hubs and events with their peers and other environmental educators. I can sink into the background and watch the magic happen – the learning, the a-ha moments and the fun. However there always is an expectation that action will be taken once they return to their schools or centres.
It was such a buzz to see Pohutukawa Early Learning Centre, our latest Silver Enviroschool, sharing their sustainability practices with kaiako from their two sister centres at our May ECE Sustainability Hub. After watching Pohutukawa for several years these centres are now ready to start their own sustainability journeys.
Also, earlier in the year Pohutukawa kaiako and tamariki totally won over our district councillor, who came to present them with their Enviroschools Holistic Reflection Silver certificate. She shared with the other councillors how this centre was taking action for the climate and influencing many along the way. These are the moments that make me proud of what I do.
My most challenging facilitation moment was that first meeting with our first school. I was breast feeding Anika while Jan (RC) ran the meeting with the principal. It was hot and I couldn’t understand why Anika was crying – she never cried. I took a moment outside and realised I was feeding her on the wrong side. Back we went in and now that school is about to go through their second Green-Gold review and will be our first school to trial our ngahere holistic reflection model.
Being part of the Enviroschools whānau has been a privilege. I love the beautiful, compassionate, creative, clever and courageous people I work with. I am constantly learning and being challenged. Now being a part of the Toimata team in the role of Facilitator Support I get to learn from you all as I pull together zoom hui to inspire and uncover the important mahi we, with our schools and centres, are doing around Aotearoa.
Enviroschools, for me, is a way of living. May the kaupapa be with you.
Matt Stanford – Enviroschools Community Facilitator, Waitaha – Canterbury
Ko Crooks Peak te maunga
Ko Yeo te awa
Ko Bristol Channel to moana
No Bristol, England ahau
Ko Ōtautahi tōku kainga
He kaimahi au Enviroschools Waitaha/ Canterbury
Ko Matt Stanford tōku ingoa
Length of time in kaupapa – This year, 2023, is my 10th year as an Enviroschools facilitator.
Passion – connecting young people to their local environment through the discovery of native plants and animals, some being taonga or mahinga kai species to foster love/ appreciation and therefore instinct to protect and nurture.
Favourite facilitation moment – Being greedy, I’m taking two.
1.This moment below: The point of initial discovery. For example, the first time Matilda ever saw a tuna/ long finned eel in a drain right by her school. Then seeing how that spark ignites, in this case with Matilda visiting the awa every evening for weeks, building a database poster, then meeting with the council to construct an eel observation area to showcase these special creatures.
2. Working with awesome teachers to push boundaries and support those truly special students that have a yearning to act for te taiao. For example, supporting Allana a teacher at Te Kura o Makonui/ Springston School as the students researched and prepared a restoration plan for a whole 50m stretch of waterway that informed a resource consent for a partnership project with DOC/ Fonterra and the district council.
Six months later whilst laying out plants at a separate community planting event, Toby the original planting plan team leader demonstrated his knowledge of the plants, their ecosystem services and values. Wow, embedded and applied knowledge which was recognised when he won the New Zealand Young Plant Conservationist award. This learning and action about plant conservation and leadership is covered in more detail in Our Stories.
Funniest or most challenging facilitation moment. Eating Macaroni and cheese for three days after Toni and I over catered at an Enviroleaders camp at Arthurs Pass. We even ate it for breakfast- I have never really liked it and certainly less so now!
Enviroschools is… a nurturing kaupapa for both people and te taiao, it’s BIG but we use the word holistic!