As part of an environmental initiative between DairyNZ’s education programme and the Student Volunteer Army, 26 rural schools were matched recently with 26 farmers to carry out riparian planting projects around the country. Two farmers taking part were sharemilkers Stu and Leah Gillanders, who teamed up with a class from Cambridge Middle School to plant a wetland on Merv and Marion Hunt’s Karapiro farm.
The students also used their initiative to make sure they were energised for the day’s planting and had plenty of plants on hand. Teacher Danielle Fuller says that on top of learning about the importance of giving back to the environment and the different ways farmers are looking after the land, the children gained confidence by reaching out to their community for support.
“The students came up with the idea to contact businesses around Cambridge for donations,” Danielle says. “We received food from businesses big and small to keep us going on planting day, and a range of native plants from Appleton’s Tree Nursery. It was awesome to see so many businesses keen to jump on board and help out.”
Stu and Leah were impressed by the students’ knowledge and initiative. The class had spent six weeks researching riparian and wetland planting in the classroom, as well as self-directing the project. The children used the Student Volunteer Army method of assigned roles, so everyone played a part.
“Everyone came with a great attitude and got stuck in. The students all knew what they were doing, and they each had a specific job,” says Leah.
Eilish Ogden, student and project co-leader, says the planting process was a breeze with everyone working together as a team.
“Everyone got involved and we actually got through it faster than we thought we would. We knew what to do because we had learned about planting techniques in class before going to the farm,” she says.
Schooled up on dairying
DairyNZ’s education programme helps to share the dairy story with children around New Zealand. We work with education specialists School Kit to provide curriculumbased in-school learning resources, and link farmers and schools through a school farm visit service. Find out more at dairynz.co.nz/education
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy March 2019