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Taupō conservationist wins Forest & Bird youth award

Taupō conservationist wins Forest & Bird youth award

Sian Moffitt of Taupō has been awarded Forest & Bird’s Te Kaiārahi Rangatahi o te Taiao youth award in recognition of her leadership in developing a desire to protect nature among other young New Zealanders.

The former Victoria University of Wellington student, the recipient of Forest & Bird’s undergraduate scholarship in 2016, led the formation of Forest & Bird’s Wellington Youth Hub and remains involved as a national coordinator with the Forest and Bird National Youth Committee.

Wellington Youth Hub Co-coordinator Gracie Scott said Sian had inspired many young people in Wellington to become involved in conservation.

“She has a really strong focus on inclusivity and encouraging others to get involved and I think that’s why she’s so good at what she does,” Gracie said.

“She’s reached a lot of people in the Wellington youth community, it’s pretty amazing.”

This year Sian is back in her home town working as an environmental education coordinator with Kids Greening Taupō, an organisation involving local children in leadership activities and restoration projects to increase biodiversity in and around the town. She has turned full circle, first participating in the Kids Greening Taupō student leadership team in 2015 in her final year of high school.

Sian’s passion for nature and conservation was sparked by her grandmother, who signed her up for Forest & Bird’s Kiwi Conservation Club (KCC) for children. Later she took part in a Sir Peter Blake Young Environmental Leaders Forum while at high school and has worked as a summer ranger for the Department of Conservation in three different locations around Aotearoa.

After setting up the Wellington Youth Hub in 2018, Sian led the planning of many events, including an evening giving more than 100 young people a chance to network with around 30 environment-related organisations and businesses.

She also organised presentations, workshops and working bees for the youth hub and has used her photography skills to publicise conservation events and issues.

“I’m a person who’s been extremely lucky with the opportunities I’ve had and so it’s just a matter of giving back those opportunities to young people because I know how much it’s changed my life,” Sian said.

“I want to be able to encourage people to become passionate for the environment, especially at a young age, because I believe there is a dramatic difference between those who have connected to nature early on compared with those who haven’t.”

She said she was honoured to receive the award, which was presented to her at Forest & Bird’s annual conference in Wellington on Saturday (June 29). Her greatest satisfaction comes from working with other young people and enabling them to grow their leadership skills and passion for nature.

For her passion and determination in involving other young people in conservation, leadership and the environment. Sian played a central role in setting up Forest & Bird’s Wellington Youth Hub and remains involved in the National Youth Committee. Her focus remains on inspiring young people to love and protect nature.

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