Funky fungi, bird banter and insect investigations have been enjoyed by schools as part of the new Bay Conservation Alliance education programme based in the western WBOP.
The programme has been funded by Western BOP District Council and has started with Whakamarama, Pahoia and Omokoroa Point schools.
Despite Covid-19 and weather issues, the schools enjoyed a classroom visit and field trip to learn about our unique ngāhere (forests) and the introduced pests that are a threat to our native species.
Every term, the BCA education programme will provide a fully funded in-class lesson, field trip and follow up activity with up to 60 senior students from the schools.
Each term will focus on a local ecosystem and over two years, the schools will learn about and visit eight different natural environments in their area, from mountains to sea.
BCA also supports the conservation efforts of its member groups through the education programme.
The field trips will be based where conservation groups are currently working and students will be able to support the work of the BCA member groups with volunteer actions, such as planting, weeding and monitoring.
The forest field trip last term was to Oteora, an area of forest on private farmland that is in a Trust with the landowners, the Mackersey whanau, and Otumoetai College.
Recently, BCA received funding to lay out a network of traps at Oteora and during the trips, students from the schools saw first-hand the positive impact the pest control was having, finding rats that had been caught in the Victor traps.
Discovering quirky fungi, insect habitat and birds were a highlight of the trip, giving the students an understanding of the outcomes that can be achieved with conservation actions.
“I learned so much about the different birds, insects, pests, food chains and webs and heaps more. I love the activities. They were fun and educational at the same time,” says Omokoroa Point School student James Cameron-Green.
BCA education and engagement manager Janie Stevenson was joined by Fiona Lavin from Predator Free BOP, Debra Jager from Whakamarama Pest Library and Karen Scott from House of Science for the in-class lessons.
Lily, Ben and Alfie get up close with some native pests.
The schools were left with DIY chew cards, rat traps and tunnels to paint with test pots donated by Dulux as a follow up activity.
After learning about the threats to our forest, the students were keen to learn more about pest animals and start their trapping journey on the school grounds.
The BCA programme is set to grow from July, with more schools being welcomed on board. To strengthen the education programme, BCA is keen to bring in local experts and explore local areas.
Please contact Janie (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you or someone you know could help contribute to the programme or if you know of a great site for the field trips.