Learning Together in Authentic Contexts Workshop—29 October 2015
The Auckland Council works closely with community environmental groups and also assists area schools in environmental study programmes.
Over the years Auckland Council’s environmental educators from the Education for Sustainability (EfS) team, Trees For Survival (TFS), Wai Care and WasteWise Schools programs have conducted on-site learning for the school groups that come to CUE Haven for field trips.
Today the Council hosted a meeting for both educators and community groups in the local area so that each group could meet, exchange ideas, and find opportunities to work together. We were very happy that the Council selected CUE Haven as the venue for the workshop.
The objectives of the session were to (1) provide opportunities for schools and community groups to connect with each other, (2) share experiences of successful community collaboration and (3) facilitate sharing of resources and knowledge for mutual benefit.
The participants convened at 3:30 for afternoon tea and to get acquainted.
Eight educators from six local schools and eight representatives of six area community projects joined five representatives from various environmental departments of the Council for the meeting.
Council representatives included – Shanthie Walker and Morag Vasilaki – Education for Sustainability Advisors, Shelley Hackett – Wai Care Environmental Programmes Co-ordinator, Sue Crawshay – Trees For Survival Environmental Programmes Co-ordinator, Megan Beard – Partnerships Facilitator.
Shanthie called the session to order and gave the participants an overview of the objectives and the agenda.
Shelley then gave a presentation about a very successful community shellfish monitoring programme that involves local schools and community groups monitoring shellfish populations in the Whangateau Harbour.
Next, Liz Maire of the Forest Bridge Trust gave a presentation about the CatchIT Schools programme which is involving local rural schools in active pest control and native forest protection in the Hoteo catchment. The students learn about the problems of introduced pests in class and then conduct trapping at home. They then report back on their results and the data is used to incorporate science, math and statistical work into the classroom science curriculum.
Mahrukh Stazyk of the CUE Haven Restoration Project then talked about how the project has involved several local schools in restoration work and the environmental learning opportunities that has created for students, and how contact with nature helps with mental and physical health and creativity.
The presentations generated a lot of discussion on opportunities for collaboration and afterwards the participants had a chance to network and discuss opportunities and projects.
The group then went for a short walk around the CUE Haven project where we some of the work that students had done and described some of the learning activities that we conduct when schools come out.
It was a very productive and successful afternoon and we’d like to convey our many thanks to Shanthie for initiating and organising it, and to all the council staff present today for their involvement and support.
We also want to thank Shelly and Liz for their informative presentations. And a big thank you to the educators and community groups for participating in today’s workshop.
We especially want to thank Auckland Council for their continuing support of environmental community groups and environmental education. Linking up educators and community groups creates significant synergies in both education and environmental sustainability, and we look forward to more such workshops.