Kids' Restore Kepler project for export

Conservation project lauded

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 09/06/2014
Tim Willans, of Fiordland College, Kids Restore New Zealand trustee Ruud Kleinpaste, Tauhara College maths and science teacher Amy Wake, Tauhara College assistant principal Andrea Mertens, Melissa McDuff and Sophia Humphries, of Fiordland College, and Jasper Carter
BARRY HARCOURT

ONE LESS: Tim Willans, of Fiordland College, Kids Restore New Zealand trustee Ruud Kleinpaste, Tauhara College maths and science teacher Amy Wake, Tauhara College assistant principal Andrea Mertens, Melissa McDuff and Sophia Humphries, of Fiordland College, and Jasper Carter with a stoat that will no longer be a threat to birdlife on the Kepler Track.

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A Fiordland conservation project driven by the region's school kids is being lauded as a model that could be adapted nationally.

The Kids Restore the Kepler project aims to help Fiordland's young people, from pre-school through to college, develop knowledge, values and skills so they can be confident, connected and actively involved in caring for their environment.

Now the project - launched in 2010 - is becoming recognised widely as a model for how this kind of project might work in schools around the country.

Fiordland-based Conservation Partnerships ranger Caroline Carter said a group of northerners were in Fiordland to learn about the Kids Restore the Kepler project and how it could be adapted to get more Kiwi kids learning about their environment while at school.

Teachers from Tauhara College, in Taupo, Central North Island Department of Conservation education staff and the Greening Taupo are spending time in Fiordland speaking with the Kids Restore the Kepler project members.

The visit came out of conversations with the Ministry of Education around place-based education models and science curriculum changes.

"The visitors are coming to look at how the project works, the challenges and learnings, and how it might be adapted to meet others' needs," Carter said.

Kids involved with the project were very engaged which was often not the case in traditional text book learning, she said.

"They even get involved during their lunch times, after school and on weekends. This is real world learning with real world results."

Kids Restore New Zealand trustee Ruud Kleinpaste said the Kids Restore the Kepler project "has to be the most inspiring project on the planet".

New Zealand's Bugman has had a long association with getting youngsters into conservation and said the Fiordland project was a shining example of how to achieve that goal.

"What we have here is a solution for the future of conservation. These kind of projects are the new normal for our kids," Kleinpaste said.

Traditional classroom subjects such as maths, science and creative writing could be incorporated in real world situations, he said.

It was no surprise other schools wanted to "steal" the Kids Restore the Kepler project model, Kleinpaste said.

"It's inspiring, it's a new way of teaching kids and it is leading the way in protecting our natural environment and building conservationists of the future. I'm happy for anyone to steal the ideas."

Born in the Netherlands, Kleinpaste said he would love to see the model go global.

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- The Southland Times

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