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Ficino School—11 May 2016

May 12, 2016

Today a great group of year 5 students from Ficino School in Auckland joined us for a day of planting, leaning and exploring.

The group arrived around ten and included students Abbie, Alex, Amelia, Anushka, Bruno, Emily, Jude, Justin, Lina, Matthew, Mohangeet, Noa and Peter.  The students were accompanied by teacher Ashley Leathley and parents Cindy and Trudi.

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Also joining us for the day was Shanthie Walker from Auckland Council’s Environment for Sustainability education program.

We started the day with morning tea and Mahrukh gave the group an overview of the CUE Haven project and the plan for the day.  Thomas then gave a safety briefing before the students headed out to the field.

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The first task was tree planting.  The plan for the day was to plant along the boundary with the neighbour.  The area was quite challenging as it was sloping and there were rocks and weeds to contend with.  Thomas gave a planting demo and again reminded the group of safety issues.

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The team went to work and did an amazing job planting the flax and manuka trees. And in about an hour they managed to plant all of the trees we had laid out. Great effort by all!

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Once the planting was finished, we took the team for a short bush walk.  The first stop was a visit to the area that Ficino students had planted last year.  The students were amazed to see that a lot of the trees had doubled in size and were almost twice as big as the ones they had just planted.

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As we continued the walk, Thomas showed them different aspects of the property and talked about the CUE Haven restoration project.  He related some of the things the students were leaning in class to things they observed in the field like native trees that were self-seeding and the abundance of native bird life due to our pest control efforts.

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After the walk we had lunch and it was an opportunity for the students to ask questions and learn more about the restoration project.

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We then introduced Shanthie to the students and she started her presentation in the nursery with an overview about invertebrates and insects and their role in the food chain and in ensuring the health of the environment.

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Shanthie then led the students through a series of activities where they learned about the characteristics of insects and how to identify insects based on their unique aspects such as whether they flew or walked, how many wings they have, etc.  She gave the students picture cards to give them a chance to see different varieties of insects.

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Shanthie also had some 3D models that she used to demonstrate unique characteristics of insects.

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The students then had the opportunity to examine and identify some real specimens close up.

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And then they went into the orchard to gather their own specimens to study and identify them using magnifying glasses and field guides.

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By digging in the leaf litter under the fig tree they found an amazing variety of worms and insects.

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They also had a chance to study a rarely seen Katydid (New Zealand bush cricket) which made an unexpected and much welcomed appearance.

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Our many thanks to Shanthie for her excellent, informative and fun presentation.  The students learned a lot and also had a good time.

And our thanks to Auckland Council for their continued support and having their environmental educators out to CUE Haven to conduct these valuable learning sessions for students.

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We also want to thank Nestle NZ for providing the delicious Nestle hot chocolate drinks for the students which they thoroughly enjoyed.

And a big thank you to Ashley.  This is the fourth year Ashley has brought her students out to CUE Haven – we really appreciate it and enjoy working with you and very much look forward to having you back again next year with another group.

Our many thanks to parents Cindy and Trudi for giving up a day and helping out.  We really enjoyed meeting you both and you added a lot of value to the team efforts.

And finally a very BIG THANK YOU to the hard working students. You have made a significant contribution to the CUE Haven project and our environment by planting these trees. Thank you! We are always impressed by how polite, motivated and enthusiastic Ficino students are and we really enjoyed having you visit us.  Best of luck with your studies and we do hope you will come back and see us (and your trees) again soon!

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