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Education and ecology to create a fun school programme

13 August 2013

MEDIA RELEASE – photos are available

Bringing education and ecology to create a fun school programme

A mutual passion for environmental education has brought together a primary school teacher, a doctor of ecology, and the board responsible for Guthrie-Smith Tutira to create a new programme that is already a hit with local school children.

All About Trees is a resource that has been created specifically to support educational activities at the Guthrie-Smith Tutira Arboretum and Lynne Arnold, who retired last year after 22 years teaching at Nelson Park School in Napier, has been employed to work with children on the programme.

Mrs Arnold visits the children in their classroom and then leads the time spent at the Arboretum, which can be a full day, part day or as part of a camp at the Guthrie-Smith Education Centre.

The Guthrie-Smith Tutira Arboretum that borders Lake Tutira in northern Hawke’s Bay, covers 90 hectares and boasts 20,000 trees that have been planted since 2002.

“One of the founding objectives of the Trust when it was established in 1942 was to provide an opportunity to educate and this programme is a great milestone,” says David Allan, Guthrie-Smith Trustee chairman.

Dr Amelia McQueen, an ecologist and environmental education programme developer was commissioned by the Trust to create All About Trees. The resource is a curriculum-based programme suited to Year 4 children upwards and can be tailored to fit in with a school’s specific learning outcomes requirements.

Thirteen information-rich signs relating to the All About Trees resource have been erected around the Arboretum.

“Children are encouraged to get involved in the learning experiences and they come away with a new appreciation of their natural environment. Not to mention feeling a bit tired from clambering around the hills,” says Mrs Arnold, who during her career, has worked with the Ministry of Education and national organisations to develop outdoor education professional development resources.

In recent times, the operation of the Guthrie-Smith Education Centre has been taken back under Trust management. Established as a school outdoors pursuits camp in the mid 1970s, the Centre’s focus has broadened to include environmental education.

Users include Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, which in the past month delivered two environmental seminars for early childhood educators and combined primary and secondary school teachers and principals.

Guthrie-Smith Tutira curator George Christison reports that bookings for the Education Centre are filling for the balance of this year and is hopeful that the schools coming will incorporate All About Trees into their activities.

“Guthrie-Smith is a beautiful place to come and there’s lots of fun to be had. It’s also a wonderful learning opportunity for kids to explore nature and gain an understanding that many just don’t get otherwise,” says Mr Christison.


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