Children are natural conservationists. And they are great at educating their parents too! Project Island Song’s education programme is a crucial part of the project – to ensure that the passion for ecological restoration flourishes in our younger generations, and is shared among their friends and whanau in the Bay of Islands.
To create an effective, inspiring programme, Project Island Song has teamed up with Kids Restore New Zealand and Bay of Islands tour operator Explore to create a Floating Classroom, supported by the Department of Conservation.
This in-the-field concept is a perfect way to teach kids about habitat restoration - planting trees and bringing back species – and the significance of keeping the islands pest free to support that restoration. On-board Explore's D3 vessel the students take on leadership roles in media, biosecurity, health and safety, construction of traps and planting. And once on Urupukapuka Island, they all take part in activities that help them learn about the realities of participating in a conservation programme.
The Floating Classroom is preceded by an in-school session – a 45-minute introduction to the programme, which covers issues such as restoration, biosecurity, the future of the project, and health and safety; in reality, this lesson often ends up much longer as schools are extremely interested in this conservation work, and often have their own projects that they want to discuss.
Throughout the 2016 programme a total of 600 plants will be planted in a designated area at Urupukapuka Bay, and traps, tracking tunnels and tieke roosting boxes will be constructed. These are useful activities that provide hands-on educational experience for the children as well as practical support for Project Island Song’s work.
Two weeks after the trip, the student leaders in each area present what they and their teams have learnt from the trip and share their plans for on-going learning. Each student receives an education booklet [LINK], which contains detailed information about the work and further lesson ideas that offer a path forward for those who have really engaged with the exercise.