Schools embrace sustainability

Posted on June 29, 2015

A new wave of education is coming to the fore across New Zealand empowering students to create sustainable communities.

Close to 1,000 Enviroschools, like the Rhode Street School in Dinsdale, Hamilton are developing a future generation of innovative and motivated young people who instinctively think and act sustainably.

The Rhode Street School is a Green-Gold Enviroschool having planted more than 1,000 native trees and shrubs within its school grounds over the last eight years.

The school’s modern day sustainable learning and break out areas include extensive shaded areas provided by wellestablished trees, a hydroponics centre, sensory garden, organic orchards, worm farm and sustainable vegetable gardens.

Incredibly, the school has even developed its own ‘Ecological Island’ over the last six years thanks to the vision and hard work of teachers and students and the generosity of local organisations and community members.

Students were inspired to build the Ecological Island after visiting Mt Maungatautari in 2009.

Students were encouraged to innovate, enquire with curiosity and think creatively to research and design the island and its infrastructure including plantings, waterways, ponds, bridges, a science lab and even renewable energy generation.

The development of the island began in 2012 thanks to the donation of 60,000m3 of clean fill from local developers.

As part of their planning, students researched and planted species that would provide food all year round for native birds, bees and skinks. Their hard work is starting to pay dividends with Tui visiting and Silver-eyes and Fantails becoming residents. With the larger trees progressing well, their focus has now turned to planting understory and frostresistant, ground cover species.

Progress has also seen a 120m creek dug out and three shipping containers renovated as Science Labs. Work will continue filling the creek and ponds with eel and crayfish, building pest proof fencing and pathways, and fitting out the Science Lab. Also on the list are Weta hotels, insect villages and an underwater viewing platform.

Every student and teacher, not only at the Rhode Street School but in Waikato, will benefit from the authentic learning experiences from this landmark resource.

In all activities, the transfer of knowledge to local and visiting students has been of prime importance, so that they take their learnings and apply them at their own schools, homes and within their communities.

What the Rhode Street School has achieved exemplifies sustainable living and learning at its best, and is a credit to the students, teachers & others who support the school.

Enviroschools and in fact, any school undertaking native plantings, are encouraged to contact Kauri Park Nurseries for free consultation and advice.

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