FROM planting trees to improving waste management, Aparima College pupils have been taking on environmental challenges.
Just before the Covid-19 lockdown, Environment Southland EnviroSchools co-ordinator Megan Bates helped the college’s EnviroCouncillors reflect on the five projects they had been working on throughout the past 18 months.
Projects ranged from establishing school gardens with raised vegetable beds and a tunnel house, to planting 700 trees and shrubs as part of the Mazda Foundation and Project Crimson’s Treemendous makeover.
Aparima College EnviroSchools co-ordinator Lynne Grove said the EnviroCouncil included pupil representation from Years 7 to 13, as well as teachers and administration staff.
Year 11 pupil Summa Lonneker had taken part in the Environment Southland Sustainability Roadshow and had seen how “the students at Fiordland College were really involved and proud of their environmental projects”.
“We wanted that for our school… the EnviroSchools projects helped improve our image as a school.”
Environmental action was taken during lesson-time, electives and during lunchtimes.
Year 13 pupil Alexis Halder said she appreciated “seeing individuals from across the school come together with a shared vision”.
“We collated ideas and made things happen,” which gave “a sense of accomplishment and positive change”
Year 13 pupil Dom Riddell said he was glad for the chance to “inspire the rest of the school and to raise awareness of the awesome environment on our [the college’s] doorstep”.
Pupil Genna Woodward said she enjoyed “working on the gardens, which was satisfying and mostly done by the students, whereas the project’ brought in helpers from the community”.
The gardens had been a place of learning, as well as a haven for special-needs pupils.
Support teacher Sue Mailman said, “The gardens act as an outdoor classroom where students can do hands-on learning.”
Vegetables from the gardens were also used to make soup for pupils during the winter terms and were also sold via the South Coast Environment Centre in return for seeds.
Some of the environmental learning also took place at the Whakaoraka nursery at Takutai o te Titi Marae, where Jade Maguire introduced the pupils to Matauranga Maori (Maori knowledge), and at the Guytons’ Food Forest in Riverton.
Support teacher Simon Riddell said he had seen how the field trips had engaged pupils and offered them “real-world learning and a chance to understand different perspectives”.
Mrs Grove said now pupils had returned to the college after the lockdown, she hoped many of the bronze-level projects would continue to encourage long-term participation and create lasting change.
“We are embarking on our silver Enviroschools journey with a number of new student-driven projects in the pipeline.
“We are aiming to engage as many of our students as possible.”