A man who hails from a small Bay of Plenty settlement is one of 30 young leaders being recognised by the North American Association for Environmental Education for their work.
Each year the Environmental Education (EE) 30 Under 30 programme highlights the work of educators under 30, representing diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, who are using environmental education to create change in their communities and forge a sustainable future.
Jared Hiakita (Ngāi Tūhoe), orginially from Waimana, is a waste education adviser for Para Kore ki Te Hiku, and joins the group of 30 awardees.
Hiakita said he was grateful the mahi with Para Kore was recognised by the North American Association for Environmental Education.
"In October, I will be traveling to Washington to attend their conference. I hail from a small rural settlement in Aotearoa called Waimana, which sits on the northern edge of a stunning forest called Te Urewera.
"This place sustained and nurtured my ancestors for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years and is where the seeds of my commitment to the environment were sown. I have a background in community development, arts and education, however from a young age I have been involved in conservation in some shape or form," he said.
Hiakita now lives in the far north where he is kaiārahi for Para Kore.
Hiakita and his fellow awardees will be honoured at the association's Annual International Conference in Spokane, Washington, on October 10 to 13 where a number of them will share their stories and perspectives on how to develop leadership in the field of environmental education.
The association's executive director Judy Braus said they were thrilled with the incredible talent, passion, and leadership of the dedicated young individuals who joined a growing community of environmental education champions.
"They are not only working towards a sustainable future, but also inspiring the next generation of leaders who will follow in their footsteps. The North American Association for Environmental Education is excited to support their diverse efforts and their continued growth as exceptional environmental education leaders."
Kaihautū matua for Para Kore, Jacqui Forbes, said it was amazing to see Hiakita recognised for his dedication and leadership in the field of environmental education.