The DairyNZ levy-funded project enabled students to help look after waterways in their areas while learning about local farmers’ environmental initiatives.
Working with education specialists School Kit, DairyNZ matched 25 urban and rural schools around the country with 25 farmers to carry out on-farm planting projects. Some of the farmers involved in the project are volunteers who regularly host classroom visits on their farms as part of DairyNZ’s education programme.
“This was a really exciting initiative that saw farmers and children working together to enhance the environment,” says DairyNZ’s external engagement manager Phillipa Adam. “We know children love swimming and playing in rivers and streams and it’s great to have them involved with us in looking after them – in a fun way.”
Using the Student Volunteer Army (SVA)* method, each student completely planned their own project, taking a different role such as project manager, farmer liaison and finance manager. “It also enabled them to visit a farm, meet the farmers and manage a project contributing to the wider community,” says Phillipa.
Cheryl Hickford, principal of Motumaoho Primary near Morrinsville, says her students (the whole school took part) were really excited about being involved in the planting project.
“We have a gully with a waterway running through it – with the school on one side and a farm on the other and it was fantastic to work with the farmer to plant it. The children love going to the gully and looking for eels, and now they can see they’re making a difference because there are more eels in the stream,” says Cheryl. “Being part of this project has helped the children learn how important it is to give back to the environment. It’s all about educating children for a sustainable future.”
Before planting, each class researched the topic using videos and information provided in the teaching guide, investigating the benefits of planting, says Phillipa. “Children learned from resources that are commonplace in many farmers’ tool kits,” she explains. “These included the regional wetlands and waterway planting guides and the online riparian planner, which gave them an idea of the importance the dairy sector places on sustainability.”
To learn more about DairyNZ’s education programme visit dairynz.co.nz/education
To find out what you can do to look after waterways visit dairynz.co.nz/waterways
* The SVA was formed when a group of University of Canterbury students came together to help those affected by the Christchurch earthquakes. Today the SVA is inspiring and activating students for community good. It recently partnered with School Kit to introduce this programme into schools.
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy December 2018