Feilding - Rangitikei Herald

Columns
Thursday, September 8, 2016

Last week Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Associate Minister of Conservation Nicky Wagner announced a new contract to support Enviroschools for the next six years.

They also introduced a new Strategy for Environmental Education for Sustainability.

This is great news for Rangitikei where we currently have 13 active Enviroschools.

They are Apiti, Bainesse, Bulls, Kimbolton, Linton, Manchester Street, Mt Biggs, Newbury, Nga Tawa, Pukeokahu, Orautoha, Sanson and South Makirikiri schools.

Education is a powerful, longterm tool for improving how we care for the environment.

If young people are encouraged to feel connected to nature and understand the problems of species loss, water pollution, waste and climate change, they will make better choices during their lifetime.

The Toimata Foundation's sixyear contract is for $11.4 million and supports the Enviroschools and the Te Aho TuRoa programmes in early childhood centres, schools and kura.

Enviroschools involves more than 100,000 children, 9000 teachers and 85 partner organisations throughout New Zealand including most district and regional councils.

Thousands of young New Zealanders are now actively participating in real-life projects as part of curriculum-linked learning through Enviroschools and Te Aho TuRoa.

Through energy efficiency initiatives, ecological building practices, environmental restoration, growing food and reducing waste going into landfills, students are having a positive impact on their local communities, the economy and even our overseas profile.

This new contract will ensure the growth of the programme.

It will also put a stronger emphasis on science connections.

We want to encourage schools to engage with their local science community - with the programme linking to the National Science Challenges and supporting A Nation of Curious Minds.

The draft National Strategy for Environmental Education for Sustainability has been released for public feedback.

The strategy is a framework that will engage and connect people to their environment and to their community.

It encourages collaboration between a wide range of stakeholders to support projects and initiatives to advance social, cultural, environmental and economic sustainability in New Zealand.

It's all about collaborating with businesses, councils, NGOs, community groups and schools to develop a strategy that is consistent with modern ways of learning and communicating.

I am very pleased with this draft and believe it provides the next step in the Environmental Education for Sustainability.

It will be interesting to receive public feedback.

If you're keen to join the conversation, the refreshed National Strategy and feedback process are available at http:/ /www.doc.govt.nz/eefs Enviroschools is essentially a movement for positive change in New Zealand - towards a generation of innovative and motivated young people who instinctively think and act sustainably.

I congratulate those schools in the Rangitikei who are a part of this programme.