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Youth learn about sustainable living

The Enviroschools programme

The programme supports children and young people to plan, design and implement sustainability actions that are important to them and their communities.  

Since its inception in 2001, the Enviroschools Foundation (now known as the Toimata Foundation) has taken on a life of its own. There are now about a thousand Enviroschools across kindergarten, primary and secondary school ages, teaching quarter of a million children how to live more sustainably. The foundation is inspiring a movement for change. It is encouraging future citizens to instinctively think and act sustainably.

Enviroschools teaches children how to grow food, keep worm farms, reduce waste, about water quality and biodiversity. In 2014 alone, participants have planted 86,859 trees in 2014 – of which 86 per cent were natives.

Last year it released its first outcomes report, which showed that Enviroschools has nearly 100 partners nationwide, including most councils. The foundation is receiving $7.6 million government funding over four years, which is administered by Ministry for the Environment.

Living in the bush for 28 days

This sounds challenging, but St Cuthbert’s College’s Kahunui programme is developing a new generation of environmental kaitiaki.

During their 28-day, full immersion learning experience, St Cuthbert’s students complete a social living, academic and outdoor programme. Using innovative model and inquiry processes, students learn to solve real environmental problems.

Back at the main school campus, what they have learnt and the data they have collected is added to the Kahupedia wiki to share with the school community. Students are also encouraged to share what they have learnt at home and in their communities.

Talented teens 

Teens from across New Zealand get together to learn about leadership and the environment at the Youth EnviroLeaders’ Forum through Sir Peter Blake Trust.

Since 2003, each year about 50 enthusiastic and talented teens from across New Zealand get together to learn about leadership and the environment at the Youth EnviroLeaders’ Forum (otherwise known as YELF).

The Ministry partners with the Sir Peter Blake Trust to deliver the forum. Most recently, students gathered in Nelson for the 13th YELF to learn about ocean health, biodiversity and pest control.

The students share their passion for what they’ve learnt in their blogs online, and it doesn’t end once the forum is over. Delegates are also providing reflections on their experiences back to the Ministry. Many have organised environmental events or initiatives in their communities and schools.

It’s clear the impact that the programme has. With more than 650 students attending since 2003, these students go on to influence widely. YELF’s impacts are immeasurable. It’s really a foundation for inspiring our young Kiwi leaders and environmental change.

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