Students join in youth environmental leaders forum

By Kim Fulton

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Whakawa Kakau will be heading to the annual Youth EnviroLeaders Forum. Photo/John Borren
Whakawa Kakau will be heading to the annual Youth EnviroLeaders Forum. Photo/John Borren

Bay of Plenty students will be among young environmentalists from across New Zealand and the Pacific taking part in a forum in Nelson starting today.

Te Wharekura o Mauao school student Whakawa Kakau is one of those involved in the annual Youth EnviroLeaders Forum (YELF) which finishes on 22.

The Year 12 student said a school project about restoring and bringing life to wetlands had opened her mind to environmental issues.

She hoped to gain a better understanding of the environment and how to sustain it at YELF.

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Whakawa said she was particularly interested in marine science, a focus of next week's forum, and was considering a career in the field.

She said she was looking forward to meeting the other young environmentalists from all over the country at the event.

Sir Peter Blake Trust chief executive Shelly Campbell said the trust selected 54 Year 11 to 13 students from every region in the country for the forum. They would be joined by four young environmental leaders from Palau, the Mariana Islands, New Caledonia and Australia.

It was the first time international students had joined YELF and the aim was to increase the network of young environmental leaders across the Pacific.

"These young people with a passion for the environment will need to lead change in the environment and collaboration will be part of the solution. We're sure we'll learn as much from them as they will from us," said Ms Campbell.

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The students would spend the week developing their leadership skills as well as learning about environmental issues and opportunities in the Nelson area.

Ms Campbell said this year's forum would focus on pest eradication, biodiversity and ocean health. The students would be exposed to career paths in their fields of interest and would be shown real world applications of subjects they learn in the classroom, said Ms Campbell.

Students would also have the opportunity to develop leadership skills through a range of field trips, workshops and exercises throughout the week.

Speakers included Minister for the Environment Nick Smith, Nelson mayor Rachel Reese, Ministry for the Environment chief executive Vicki Robertson, Sam Johnson of the Student Volunteer Army, and leading local subject experts.

As well, the students would visit the Abel Tasman National Park and experts from DOC and Project Janzsoon would speak about pest eradication and biodiversity, said Ms Campbell.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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