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Reporting on the progress of the Waikato River Cleanup Project; a collaboration between Trees for Survival and the Waikato Regional Council and made possible with funding from the Waikato River Authority.
One year into the project 15 PGU’s are in full use in the schools which received two three-metre units and approximately 1000 seedlings including a mixture of manuka, harekeke, ti kouka, carex, ribbonwood and karamu.
Pricking out the tiny seedlings was completed at the end of 2013 and the students are now nurturing them in root trainers ready for planting out in 2015. With the PGU’s operating the schools involved are fully-engaged and finding opportunities within the programme for learning inside and outside the classroom.
The second teachers’ workshop in November was focused on how to integrate the TfS programme into the school’s curriculum. The value of some experiential activities in teaching children was explored. Opportunities for Learning Experiences Outside the Classroom (LEOTC) in the Waikato were discussed (and contacts given) and the teachers, who had a really good exploration of the TfS resource, remarked on its value as a teaching tool and learning resource.The first of two workshops in 2013 for teachers was a practical session designed to build the teachers’ understanding of, and confidence about, the process of pricking out, potting on and nurturing trees within the PGU. The success of the workshop (with 100% positive participants’ feedback) showed in the skill and confidence when those schools received their units and seedlings later in the year.
Again feedback was 100% positive, with suggestions made for networking events and cluster meetings in schools where TfS teachers and students can support one another. Clearly teachers left with a greater depth of understanding and knowledge about the programme. They were feeling even more excited and passionate about how to make the best use of the unit within their schools and communities. One teacher wrote, “I now feel like I know what I’m doing!” and another, “Excellent workshop; it’s given me a direction with the help of the workbook.”
With the help of the workshops, teachers are realising that the programme isn’t just about growing trees; it is much, much more! The third workshop will be run in 2014.
Teachers who were unable to attend the workshops received individual support to up-skill them on the practical processes of the programme, while in-school facilitation provides the essential conversations to embed the learning from workshops, as well as support teachers who missed the training workshops.
This project is creating community partnerships by engaging schools, their community, local businesses and Councils all working together to restore the natural heritage.
There has been great success with the other local schools engaged in TfS activity and over 9000 native trees were planted last year across the region, mostly in riparian margins. Those in the TfS programme in the Waikato saw a positive connection to working with Ngti Haua, who supported some planting days and shared some amazing history about the areas being planted. Tikanga was observed and kariakia were part of each planting day, which brought a great deal of learning to the students and community members involved. It added another level of understanding to the importance of this mahi.
Looking at the year ahead, approximately 22,000 seedlings were placed last year into all the Waikato TfS schools, including in the 15 WRA-funded schools. Most of these plants will be planted in the 2015 planting season, but in 2014 the schools will have the opportunity to be involved in other planting days.
In 2015 the first of the WRA TfS schools will plant their own seedlings into riparian margins and erosion control areas.
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