A growing awareness of the environment among the teenage fraternity has helped form a unique alliance in Whanganui designed to teach the fundamentals of conservation.
In May, AGC Training partnered up with Whanganui-based The Learning Environment, to deliver the first Careers in Conservation course to year 11-13 students from four Whanganui secondary schools.
The NZQA-accredited course teaches students about conservation, health and safety, sustainable land management, water use and quality, and nutrition.
It is designed for youth who feel disconnected from mainstream education and are interested in pursuing a career in conservation/kaitiakitanga, agriculture, horticulture, or similar fields. It aims to provide positive experiences of learning to support students to stay engaged with conventional education.
The Learning Environment is an organisation that runs Piwakawaka Farm, a regenerative block on the banks of the Whanganui River at Papaiti.
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Cameron Ryan, Learning Environment ecological restoration co-ordinator at Piwakawaka Farm, is the Careers in Conservation tutor.
Ryan said the farm, waterways, and the surrounding forest became a "living learning environment" for the students on the first course in May.
"We started by simply observing the natural world, looking at the forest and seeking to understand how it works and what it needs to thrive," Ryan said.
"The students have found value in the holistic, immersive learning experiences we provide on Pīwakawaka Farm. Ultimately, though, our role is to create pathways to jobs in the field for the students.
"One of our objectives at the Learning Environment is to enable the delivery of wellbeing-centred, holistic learning experiences. We are so inspired and encouraged by how the students on the Careers in Conservation course have responded to our teaching methods. It's been a time of practical learning and personal growth that will help prepare the students for a career and a more resilient future."
Ryan said a visit to the organisation's website www,learningenvironment.nz would provide a deeper understanding of the work being undertaken at Piwakawaka Farm.