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The Warehouse Group—5 December 2019

December 6, 2019

The Warehouse Group is New Zealand’s largest retailer.  They have a strong commitment to people and the environment and today we were very happy to have a group of professionals from the Insights and Data Science Team out to help us with some track maintenance work.

The group arrived bright and early and included Andrew, Anis, Bergen, Cherrie, Chris, Courtney, Heike, Karl, Karla, Keryn, Kevin, Lucile, Luke, Maria, Mathew, Sabrina, Sarah and Suzie.   Also joining us for the day was our good friend and regular volunteer, Alan, who also brought along his son David and friend Simon.

We spent some time getting acquainted over morning tea and because most of the team was new to CUE Haven, Mahrukh then gave an overview of the CUE Haven project and our current activities and plans.

Thomas gave a safety briefing and overview of the work plan for the day.

The plan for the day was to work on a variety of improvements to an old section of walking track.  Other teams have been upgrading the track and we wanted to continue that work. Once in the field, we carried all the gear down to the work site and went to work.

Because of the size of the group, we broke into three teams.  Two teams worked on widening a long section of track and the third team worked to install railings on a set of steps a little further up the same track.

The long section of track needed side boards to protect against erosion.  There were also some steps that were not well aligned.  Because we were working in a small area, people moved around between teams to help out with different tasks.

The first task was to study the track issues and come up with creative solutions.

Once they decided on the new layout for the track, they marked it with string and then dug out channels for the side boards.

As the channels were cut out, they could bring down the boards.

The boards were cut to size to match the contours of the track.

And the boards were placed in position and secured with pegs and nails.

As they finished a section, they moved down the track, digging out the sides of the track and fitting in new boards.

The hard working team made so much progress, we had to go down to get more timber.

It took a lot of teamwork to line up some of the boards.

They worked down both sides of the track simultaneously, digging out channels for the side boards and installing them and accomplished an amazing amount of work.

While part of the group worked on widening and lining the track, part tackled several sections of steps on the track.  Several of them were uneven and out of line and the group decided to fix them before putting on side boards.

They first measured and checked the layout, deciding the best way to align the steps.

They decided that some of the old steps needed to be removed and repositioned and that some new steps also needed to be installed.

As they aligned the steps, they were able to install side boards.

The boards needed to be cut to size and on the right angle to allow for the slope of the steps.

The repositioned steps and new side boards were fixed in place with pegs and nails.

This section of track is much better now–it is a fantastic improvement and the team should be very proud of their efforts.

The third team worked to install railings on some steps leading down to another track by the CUE Haven stream.  It was a challenging job because the steps go around a curve.

They measured the steps to determine how may posts they would need and then dug the post holes.

While the holes were dug, we went down to get the posts, rails and concrete.

Digging the holes was a real challenge.  In addition to tree roots they also had to contend with hard sandstone as the steps lead down to the stream.

Once the holes were finished they could cement the poles in place.

The posts were carefully positioned and aligned.

Getting the posts in was a major undertaking and is the most difficult part of putting in railings.  Future teams will install the rails to finish off the job.

The last task we asked the group to tackle was to put down a layer of gravel on a section of track that had been completed earlier by another team.  We went down and loaded up metal in empty buckets.

We drove the full buckets as close to the track as we could and the group carried them down to the site.

Two people at the end of the track raked and smoothed the gravel as the team dumped it on the track.

They brought back all the empty buckets and other gear.

In just a few hours the team made major improvements to the CUE Haven tracks.  Have a look at what they accomplished.

Finished metaling:

Finished track and steps:

Posts in place, ready for rails:

Thanks to everyone’s hard work the tracks got an amazing makeover within a few hours.  When we were finished, the team then packed up all the gear and took a leisurely walk back to the cottage for a well-deserved lunch.

Many thanks to Keryn and Chris for organizing The Warehouse Group visit.

And thank you to Alan, David and Simon for joining us today.  We really appreciate your help.

And a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone for all their hard work and efforts today. It was really nice meeting you and we thoroughly enjoyed working with you.  You have all made a major contribution to CUE Haven and your efforts will be greatly appreciated by visitors as they comfortably walk the tracks to explore the growing native forest.

We hope that you will come back to CUE Haven soon to explore more of your community native forest reserve with your family and friends. And back again next year for another productive volunteer day!

Thank You!!  Thank You!!

Kaukapakapa School—29 November 2019

November 30, 2019

Today we were very happy to welcome Year 4 & 5 students from Kaukapakapa School for a day of learning and exploring. The school is only 15 km from CUE Haven and is the closest school to CUE Haven.

The Year 5 students came in the morning and Year 4 after lunch.

The Year 5 students arrived shortly after nine and included teachers Charlene and Karin and parents Jessica, Julie, Kylie, Mark, Rachel, Sam, Sharleen and Trine with 52 students.

Year 4 included teachers Claire and Nigel and parents Kara, Karl, Lara and Samantha and 44 students. And also parents Julie and Sam from the morning session.

We were also very happy to have Anna Baine of Auckland Council Parks joining us to help out.

Mahrukh gave both groups a brief overview about CUE Haven and described the planned activities.

The plan for each group was for the students to do a variety of activities which would help them learn about nature and how they can help protect it.  The students went for a nature walk so they could learn a little bit about native New Zealand plants and animals, and did activities to learn about conserving natural resources.  Because of the size of the groups, we broke each group into two.  One group did the nature walk while the other did the other activities and we switched over so that all the students had a chance to do all of the activities.

Nature Walk

Thomas took the group for a walk in the bush.  Before starting out, he gave a safety briefing and talked a little bit about what they would see on the walk.  He showed them the neighbour’s paddock to give the students an idea of how CUE Haven looked eleven years ago and then showed them the 2008 and 2015 plantings so that they could compare the way the trees had grown up.

The students had a chance to see the area where a landslip occurred during a torrential rain storm in August 2016. The slip began on the neighbouring property but mainly affected CUE Haven. Thomas talked about the importance of having trees on hill slopes and showed the groups the remedial planting being done in the area to stabilize the hill slope.

During the walk, Thomas pointed out the difference between wetland and non wetland plants so the students could identify the difference and also explained how the plantings had helped water quality in both the CUE Haven stream and downstream in the Araparera River and the Kaipara Harbour.

As we continued our walk through the bush, the students got a chance to see many different native trees.

The students also got a chance to look out over the Araparera River and Kaipara Harbour and they could observe the connection between the CUE Haven waterways and the harbour and better appreciate how improving water quality at CUE Haven was helping the harbour.

Thomas reminded the students of the challenges that native New Zealand plants and animals faced because of introduced pest plants and animals.  The students have been learning about pest control at school and most of them are trapping at home.  They recognized the traps and tracking tunnels deployed throughout the property and also correctly identified the freshly caught stoat in one of the traps on the walk.

The group then headed down to a big puriri tree that been had saved from possum browsing.   Thomas showed the students pictures of the tree before we started doing pest control so the students could see how much damage the possums had done and a picture taken a few years later so they could see how the tree had recovered.

He then had them look at the tree and the area around it to see how much more things have changed.

That tree has become a home for kereru and a lot of karaka are growing up under the tree after the kereru have dropped the big seeds.

The students got a chance to see how everything in nature is interconnected—our pest control efforts saved the puriri tree, which attracted birds, in particular the kereru, who are in turn creating more forest by spreading the big seeds.

We finished up with a walk through the wetlands and then headed back to the nursery for the next activity.

Sustainable Living and Kaitiakitanga

The students also did an interesting activity with Mahrukh about resource depletion to help them better appreciate how to conserve our planet’s resources and be good kaitiaki (guardians) of our planet. The activity generated a lot of interesting discussion.

The students broke into groups of six or seven and each group was assisted by a parent or teacher.  Each group had a bowl full of small stones and an empty bowl, a pair of chopsticks, a fork, a teaspoon and a tablespoon.  The students were told that they were to take turns moving the stones from one bowl to the other, the first person was to use only their little fingers, the second the chopsticks, the third the teaspoon, the fourth the fork, the fifth person the tablespoon and the remaining could scoop up stones with their whole hand.

Mahrukh counted time as the students took turn moving the stones using their “tool.”

They were told to raise their hands as soon as they emptied the bowl.

Mahrukh then asked the students to imagine that the stones represented the Earth’s natural resources and their little fingers, chop sticks, forks and spoons represented the technical progress that has enabled humans to use resources more rapidly over the ages.  And then discussed how excessive use of all our natural resources would mean that there could be none left for future generations.

The students then spent some time in their groups discussing different ways to conserve resources – by Rethinking, Reducing, Reusing, Restoring, Repairing and Recycling.  They wrote down ideas for things they can do at school and home while the adults facilitated the discussions.

Although at first the students thought the activity was a game and the objective was to empty the stones from the bowl as quickly as possible, they realized the importance of what the stones represented and the risk to future generations of over consumption and they had some serious discussions of what they could do individually and as a society to reduce consumption and conserve resources.

Anna from Auckland Council gave the students an interactive talk about some of the pests the students have been catching and showed them a stuffed possum and an albino ferret.

At the end of each session, Mahrukh did an exercise with the students on identifying native New Zealand bird calls.

Although the native bird population at CUE Haven has increased significantly since the restoration of  CUE Haven started in 2008, we are hopeful that sometime in the future all the native birds will be thriving here.

Before the students returned to school, each student was given a small lolly.  Mahrukh told the students about the famous Stanford Marshmallow experiment and the numerous benefits of delayed gratification and controlling impulsive behaviour.  The students were asked to demonstrate their self control and hold on to the lolly and only eat it once they returned to school.

We really enjoyed spending time with the Kaukapakapa School students, teachers and parents and we want to thank Charlene for making all the arrangements for the visit.  And a big thank you the teachers and parents for helping out.

And a special thank you to Anna for coming out and adding her expertise.

And a BIG thank you to the students!  We really enjoyed meeting you and working with you and hope you enjoyed your visit as much as we did.

We hope you will come back to CUE Haven with your families to explore more of the property and see how the forest is growing. Looking forward to seeing you all often at your community native forest reserve.

JLL—22 November 2019

November 23, 2019
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JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle) is one of the largest commercial property firms in New Zealand, specializing in valuation, research, property management, project development services, sales and leasing.

They provide their staff with a community volunteer day. Last year a team of JLL property valuers had come to CUE Haven and assisted with planting trees, and today a group of professionals from a variety of functional areas in the Auckland office joined us for a day of track maintenance work.

The group arrived early and included Ashleigh, Ben, Cameron, Hanna, Jacob, Joseph, Lisa, Megan, Phoebe, Sophie and Yulia.

We spent some time getting acquainted over morning tea and because most of the team was new to CUE Haven, Mahrukh then gave an overview of the CUE Haven project and our current activities and plans.

Thomas gave a safety briefing and overview of the work plan for the day.

The plan for the day was to work on a variety of improvements to two old sections of walking track.  Once in the field, we carried all the gear down to the work site and went to work.

We broke the group into two teams and each team focused on two different track challenges

One team tackled a stretch of track that needed side boards to protect against erosion.  The first challenge was to connect up with some completed steps.  They studied the track section and came up with a plan for how to widen the track and connect it to the existing track sections.

They worked down both sides of the track simultaneously, digging out channels for the side boards and installing them.

As they moved down the track and encountered curves they needed to cut the boards to size.  This required a lot of measuring and sawing.

The team made a lot of progress down the track.  Here is how it looked when they started:

And this is how it looks now!

It is a fantastic improvement and the team should be very proud of their efforts.

The other team was assigned a challenging section of track that runs along the stream.  The streamside edge of the track is prone to erosion and we asked the team to widen the track and install retaining boards along the stream side.

It was a slow process because it was necessary to take the time to determine the best way to route the track around some big trees and also it took a lot of digging.

Once they determined the track layout, it was necessary to measure for the retaining boards.

The boards were test fitted and more digging was usually required to get them into the right position.

The boards were then secured with pegs and nailed into place.

As they finished a section, they moved down the track.

It was a very challenging job with lots of hard work in a small space, but the result is a huge improvement in the track.  This is how it looked at the start of the day:

And here it is now—well done team!

Future teams will level the surface and put down a layer of gravel on the improved sections of track.

Thanks to everyone’s hard work the tracks got an amazing makeover within a few hours.  The team then packed up all the gear and took a leisurely walk back to the cottage for a well-deserved lunch.

Many thanks to Phoebe for once again organizing the JLL visit.

And a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone for all their hard work and efforts today. It was great seeing old friends and meeting new JLL people.  You have all made a major contribution to CUE Haven and your efforts will be greatly appreciated by visitors as they comfortably walk the tracks to explore the growing native forest.

We thoroughly enjoyed working with you all and we hope that you will come back to CUE Haven soon to explore more of your community native forest reserve with your family and friends. And back again next year for another productive volunteer day!

Thank You!! Thank You!!

 

Orewa College—20 November 2019

November 20, 2019

As part of their end of year activities, Year 10 students at Orewa College north of Auckland were able to select from a variety of outdoor projects, and four students chose to come to CUE Haven to help us with our summer maintenance work and to learn a little bit about forest restoration and New Zealand plants and animals.

Students Callum, Flynn, Grace and William arrived at about 9:30 with teacher Annie.

We spent some time getting acquainted over morning tea and then Mahrukh gave an overview of the CUE Haven restoration project and the transformation of the former dairy farm into a native forest reserve for the community.

Thomas then gave a description of the work planned for the day and a safety briefing.

We had a warm, wet winter and an unusually wet spring which means that everything is growing—good stuff and weeds!  So the task for the day was for the students to trim back vegetation that was growing over the main walking track to make it easier for visitors exploring the CUE Haven bush.

Before we got started, Thomas gave a brief explanation and demo for the trimming work.

We started near the top of the property and worked down and the group had a chance to explore different parts of the property.

As they moved down the track, Thomas pointed out features and aspects of the restoration project.  He explained in more detail the restoration plan and process, how to identify various trees and plants and explained the positive effects of controlling pest plants and animals.

They checked out the wetas in the weta hotels.

And found out how springy a muelenbeckia bush can be.

They also took time to relax and enjoy the wonderful sounds in the bush.

In just a few hours the hard working group managed to prune the entire main race as well as a long section of the boardwalk and a driving track.

When the trimming was finished, it was back to the cottage for a relaxing lunch.

Our thanks to science teacher Janet for organizing the visit and to Annie for accompanying the students and for all her help today.

And a special thanks to all the students for all their hard work today.  We appreciate your efforts and hope you enjoyed the day.  We enjoyed working with you—you have made a very valued contribution by helping us get CUE Haven ready for the summer season visitors who will walk along the tracks you helped clean up and beautify—Thanks!   We hope that the visit has given you an appreciation and interest in nature and environmental studies and we look forward to having you back over the years.

Thank You!! Thank You!!

IAG—18 November 2019

November 19, 2019
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IAG is the largest general insurance company in Australia and New Zealand.  Today a hard working group from the Supply Chain team in the Auckland head office and some of their family members spent the day at CUE Haven for a volunteer community support day.

The group arrived early and included Alex, Cruz, Havovi, Jasmine, Matt, Michael, Navzad, Ruth and Sacha.

We spent some time getting acquainted over morning tea and because most of the team was new to CUE Haven, Mahrukh then gave an overview of the CUE Haven project and our current activities and plans.

Thomas gave a safety briefing and overview of the work plan for the day

The plan for the day was to work on a variety of improvements to an old section of walking track.  We wanted to widen and level the track and install some side boards to improve the appearance.  The track runs along a sloping section of ground and there were some places where retaining boards were moving out of alignment and we also asked the group to replace or repair several sections.

Once in the field, we carried all the gear down to the work site and went to work.

We broke the group into three teams and each team focused on a different set of track challenges.

One team tackled a stretch of track that needed side boards to protect against erosion.

They studied the track section and came up with a plan for how to route the track.  The plan was to reorient the track through the bush and install side boards to clearly define the track edges to make it easier for visitors to stay on the track.  The first task was to determine the route for the track and then to measure and dig out channels for the boards.

As they dug out the channels, they measured and cut and test fitted the boards.

There are a few steps in that section of track and they realigned the steps before putting on the side boards.

The boards were pegged and nailed into place.

The result is a great improvement in the track.  Future teams will level the surface and put down a layer of gravel.

The other two teams worked on replacing and repairing existing side boards at different sections of the track.  They inspected sections of the track to identify places where boards had warped or slipped out of alignment and fixed them.

It was challenging work because they needed to first determine the best way to correct the situation, dig or cut out the old boards and replace them with new board sections.  Because we were working in a close area, people moved between teams to help out.

The first step involved clearing away the soil to be able to remove or reposition the existing boards.

Some sections needed to be cut out and replaced.

And new boards were prepared and nailed and pegged in place.

It was a very challenging work, but the improvement in the track is amazing!

Thanks to everyone’s hard work the track got an amazing makeover within a few hours.

The team then packed up all the gear and took a leisurely walk back to the cottage for a late but relaxing lunch.

Many thanks to Havovi for once again organizing the day and bringing her team out.  And a special thank you to Cruz, Jasmine and Navzad for giving up a day of your school holidays to join us.  We really appreciate you joining the IAG team today and helping out.

A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone for all their hard work and efforts today. You have all made a major contribution to CUE Haven and your efforts will be greatly appreciated by visitors as they comfortably walk the tracks to explore the growing native forest.

We thoroughly enjoyed working with you all and we hope that you will come back to CUE Haven soon to explore more of the property with your family and friends. And back again next year for another productive volunteer day!

Thank You!  Thank You!

Te Reo Classes at CUE Haven

November 15, 2019

We were delighted when late last year Rewana Waaka, a member of the CUE Haven Trusts Advisory Board, proposed the idea of using the CUE Haven cottage for Te Reo (Maori language) classes for preschool children and their mothers in the local community.

Rewana organized the program and starting in February 2019, teaching staff employed by Te Hiri Mātangā Hāpai, have been conducting Puna Reo Ora classes for about 15 young students and their mothers at the CUE Haven cottage.  Funding for the classes was generously provided by Te Matawai Roopu o Te Tai Tokerau

The classes have been held every Monday from 9 am to 2.30 pm during the school year.

The cycling lady bug on the gate welcomes students and their moms to the class.

Teacher whaea Rita Walker and staff matua Lyall, arrive by 8.30 am to get the space in the cottage ready for the students arriving at 9 am.

The classes involve Rita teaching vocabulary and grammar and reinforcement with artwork and games.

All ages were welcome at the sessions!

Music is also an important part of learning and when whaea Rewana stopped in occasionally she would lead the group in a sing along.

Here is a video of the children learning the Te reo version of the hands knees toes song:

The moms were advised to bring nutritious lunches and whaea Rita took time to explain the importance of healthy fruits and vegetables and also teach everyone the Maori names for foods!

And to encourage the children to eat more fruit and vegetables, whaea Rita got the group to grow veges. Daltons generously donated potting mix and the students and their moms had a fun time potting up strawberry and other vege seedlings in pots to take home and nurture.  Thanks Daltons!

The students even decorated their pots!

It was not all work and the children also got some play time!

The students also regularly took time to enjoy bush walks with matua Lyall to learn about the native plants and animals.

Some intrepid ladies even ventured all the way to the top of CUE Haven to see maunga Taranaki and Whanga o Kaipara.

During the sessions there were also a number of visitors.  Whaea Rita invited the wellness nurses from Te Ha Oranga, to talk to the mothers and students about good health and nutrition.

Also kuia Kathy and whaea Janie from nearby Puatahi marae were regular visitors.

Also visiting were representatives of HIPPY (Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters) South Kaipara.  The program is designed to help parents and children transition to school and to learn together.

They also celebrated holidays that fell during the study term with a special Easter session.

And the big event of the year was the session this week when the students received their certificates of achievement and had a big pre Christmas celebration.

Ka Pai!

And there were gifts for everyone.

And also a special lunch.

We are very happy to be hosting the Te Puna Ora classes at CUE Haven.  Our vision has always been that CUE Haven will be a place for the community to come together for a holistic education and also enjoyment and the classes whaea Rita and matua Lyall conduct are a perfect fit.  The students and the accompanying moms and older siblings have all greatly benefited from these classes.

We want to thank matua Lyall, whaea Rewana and whaea Rita for all their hard work organising and conducting these very successful sessions all year long and we look forward to the sessions continuing in 2020.

Kaukapakapa School—14 November 2019

November 14, 2019

Today we were very happy to welcome Year 6 students from Kaukapakapa School.  The school is only 12 km from CUE Haven and is the closest school to CUE Haven.

The plan for the day was to learn about water quality testing with the help of two Waicare specialists from Auckland Council.

The group arrived shortly after nine and included teachers Danielle and Tracey and parents Lisa and Regan with 23 students.

Also joining us were Sonia Parra and Bianca Lilley from Auckland Council’s Healthy Waters division.

Mahrukh gave the students a welcome and introduction to CUE Haven.  She explained the history of the restoration work and the importance of riparian planting to improve water quality in the CUE Haven stream which flows into the Kaipara Harbour.

While Mahrukh briefed the students, Sonia and Bianca collected water samples from the CUE Haven stream.

The students broke into two groups.  One group worked with Sonia doing various water quality tests using chemicals and the other group worked with Bianca studying the water samples for clarity and also to identify macroinvertebrates living in the water.  Halfway through, the groups switched so that all of the students could do all of the activities.

Sonia started her sessions with a short talk about water quality issues and explained the tests the students would be doing.  She explained that the students would be doing three experiments—testing water quality for oxygen, pH and phosphates and nitrates.

The students had also brought a sample of water from the stream by their school so that they could compare the results.

The first test the students conducted was measuring the pH of the water.  This involved using test strips and interpreting the colours on the strips after they were dipped in a sample of water.  Sonia demonstrated how the test was performed and then the students took their own readings.

The next experiment was to test for dissolved oxygen in the water.  Sonia explained that high levels of oxygen mean that the water can support lots of life.   She then demonstrated how the test is performed and the students interpreted the results.

The next test was for nitrates and phosphates in the water.  Unlike oxygen, we don’t want to see a high reading of either nitrates or phosphates as high levels can affect the freshwater aquatic environment.  The test involves comparing two samples, the test and the control so the students had a chance to learn about that experimental technique.

We were very happy with the results of today’s testing of the water in the CUE Haven stream.  The oxygen level was very high and there were no significant levels of nitrates or phosphates.

Bianca’s groups learned about water clarity and macroinvertebrates—the tiny creatures that live in fresh water ponds and streams.  Bianca explained how water quality affected aquatic creatures and how to test water clarity to assess silt levels and also how to identify macroinvertebrates.  The amount and diversity of animal life is an indicator of the health of the waterway.

Water clarity testing involved looking through a tube filled with water and measuring the distance light can penetrate to see how much silt and other material is suspended in the water.  Many aquatic creatures cannot thrive in cloudy water.

Bianca explained and demonstrated how the test works.

The students teamed up to conduct several tests and the results of the individual tests were averaged together.  The clarity was lower than usual today but that was possibly because it had been raining heavily up until the time the sample was collected this morning and there was a lot of water coming down the catchment.

The last test involved collecting a sample of water and leaf litter from the bottom of the stream to identify the macroinvertebrates.  Bianca showed the students a chart which would help them with the identification process.

The students found a variety of macroinvertebrates including damselfly nymphs, stonefly, rounded snail and water boatmen.  We were happy to see that some of the creatures the students found are sensitive to water quality and are not found in polluted streams.

Bianca then gave the students a short quiz to see how much they learned about healthy waterways.

Once all of the students had completed all of the Waicare work, Thomas took them for a short walk in the bush and wetlands so the students could see a bit of the restored property.

Before the students left, Mahrukh explained the marshmallow experiment and explained the importance of patience and deferring gratification.  She gave each student a Fruit Burst lolly and encouraged them to see if they could hold on to it and not eat it until they got back to school. Hopefully the students all passed the lolly test!!

We want to thank Auckland Council for enabling Sonia and Bianca to visit today.

Sonia and Bianca thank you very much for a very educational and informative waicare session and sharing your knowledge with the students.  We hope to see you again soon at CUE Haven educating another group of students.

We want to thank Danielle, Lisa, Regan and Tracy for joining us today and helping out. And a special thank you Danielle for organizing the visit and championing CUE Haven at Kaukapakapa School.

And most of all we want to thank the great group of students and budding scientists.  We enjoyed meeting you and we were very impressed with your curiosity and enthusiasm to learn. We hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did.  We hope that what you learned today will encourage you to pursue science studies and also make you better kaitiaki of our environment.  We look forward to having you all back for more educational visits at CUE Haven.