Northland students will be among young environmentalists from across New Zealand and the Pacific taking part in a forum in Nelson.
Whangarei Boys' High School student Dion Hinge is one of those involved in the annual Youth EnviroLeaders Forum (YELF) from today to Friday.
He said he hoped to learn as much as possible at the forum and use the knowledge to build a career and help out in the community. The Year 13 student takes part in Department of Conservation (DoC) volunteer days once a month and is also part of the school's environmental committee, helping with the development of an eco-village to be built near his school.
"I'm just interested in making as much of a positive difference as I can," he said.
Dion said he wanted to pursue a career with DoC and planned to do a NorthTec course next year. He said he studied biology, horticulture and geography at school, which would set him up well for the course. Dion said he was excited about attending the forum and meeting a lot of like-minded people.
Lyvia Bowering of Huanui College and Reuben Allen of Kaitaia College will also represent Northland at the forum.
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, which aimed 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.
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.