MIBE Project

He tūmanako ā tātou: empowering young people to combat climate change

An MIBE Unlocking Conscious Minds project

logos MIBE Unitec NorthTec

Logo Enviroschools Bream Bay Plant & Food

Project summary

Climate change is the biggest environmental challenge of our time. It is already affecting our climate, agriculture, native ecosystems, infrastructure, health and biosecurity. If left unchecked, it will have broad social and economic impacts.

The environment and climate change feature as a major cause for concern in young people and in some cases are associated with feelings of anxiety, stress and despair.  In schools in Tai Tokerau we have heard reports of teachers being asked if there is a future, while international research has explicitly recognised climate change as a ‘stressor’, with particular implications for the psychological well-being of children as young as 12.

Farming is often positioned as a significant contributing factor to climate change and many of Bream Bay College’s students come from farming communities.  New Zealand farmers know they have improvements to make to address and mitigate climate change, and many of them are doing all that they can to make them, yet many farmers feel constantly under attack and isolated by the New Zealand media, governments and urban populations. This can lead to rural young people feeling overwhelmed with worry for their families, communities, friends and futures.

This project will develop a lesson sequence for a new Year 10 climate change unit which will be delivered in the first half of 2020. The project aims not only to facilitate climate change awareness among young people, but to emphasise the benefits of action rather than the negative consequences of not acting.  The project’s innovation lies in its localised, solutions-based approach and its focus on impacts that our target audience can relate to in their own lives.  The new climate change unit will combine positive messaging around alternative visions and the capacity of humans to adapt.

A substantial amount of international research demonstrates that children and young people are more likely to understand, care, and act on climate change if they can engage with it directly and experientially through some form of educational, outreach, or social activity.   The teachers at Bream Bay College have identified Year 10 students (ages 14-15) as the group we will work with.

Our project involves farmers, mana whenua, scientists and educators.  It will involve a mixture of fieldwork (on-farm and at NorthTec’s laboratories) and classroom sessions and will draw on western science and insights from te reo Māori me ngā tikanga.  This project will provide a medium to demonstrate tangible pathways to action on climate change.

Students will be introduced to the concepts of soil regeneration in order to demonstrate how soil science can be utilised to diminish and transform the adverse impacts of current farming practices on our land, air and water.  Soil provides an ideal gateway into the appreciation of science given its abundance and availability, its importance to food production and New Zealand’s economy and its potential as a carbon sink.  It is an especially useful medium in which to introduce climate change science to rural young people given its ubiquity in farming.

Students will be taught to use an inexpensive, off-the-shelf kit that allows soil ecology testing to occur. The students will be transported to our participating farms where they will use the soil testing kit to obtain soil quality and condition feedback.  The kit will provide soil quality and condition feedback that can empower decisions on soil management, leading to healthier soils and more sustainable farming practices.  Back in class, the students will analyse the data they have collected in the field, and will be taught how to use it to make decisions on soil management, leading to healthier soils and more sustainable farming practices. At the end of this project we will have: ·

  • Improved students’ knowledge about the basic scientific concepts that underpin climate change.
  • Engaged students with scientists and real science.
  • Generated hope and action competence rather than apathy or despair.
  • Provided positive experiences in nature and ‘key outdoor moments’ (these have been linked to pro-environmental attitudes and behaviour in later life).
  • Developed a new year 10 science unit that will be promoted and distributed through Enviroschools’ networks locally and nationally.

Project team (alphabetically)

Gywneth Cooper is the Head of Department for science at Bream Bay College. She is responsible for Staff Development, including professional development and centrally-funded PLD, new staff induction and support, new teacher support, and appraisal. Gwyneth has also served as Acting Deputy Principal. She attends all Senior Leadership meetings and takes an active part in strategic leadership work around the school. As Across-school teacher in the Bream Bay Kahui Ako, she supports teachers, schools and the wider community as they work on shared challenges. Gwyneth is a high energy individual with a passion for education and science. Her versatility is reflected in the wide range of educational activities she takes on, including teaching te reo and involvement in cross-curricular programmes. Gwyneth has working towards a Postgraduate Diploma in Education, has a Bachelor of Science, Graduate Diploma in Adult Education, Graduate Diploma in Teaching and a Diploma in Te Ara Reo Māori.Jacqueline Knight is an Enviroschools Facilitator based at the Northland Regional Council. Her work focuses on supporting secondary schools across Northland to teach sustainability including developing local cross-curricular environmental projects for secondary schools. For example Jacqueline is currently facilitating a catchment wide restoration project in the Waitangi catchment involving six Enviroschools in the area, the Lake Omapere Trust, the NRC, DOC and the Waitangi Catchment group and the secondary schools near Lake Omapere. She is developing a school wide learning programme based around the restoration of the water quality followed by developing ecotourism and other land based ventures around the lake. Jacqueline is also involved in teacher professional development nationally, and developing social enterprise and agribusiness in schools. Her previous work is based in education and environmental care, including native plant nursery management, restoration projects and landscape design. In 2019 Jacqueline was an expert advisor for the Northland Regional Council and wrote a protocol for restoring land for the NRC as a guide for the recipients of native plants though the Regional Growth Fund. Jacqueline has a Masters in Arts, a Diploma in Teaching, Diploma in Landscape Design and a SPELD Diploma.

Peter Bruce-Iri holds a Masters in Management and a National Diploma in Horticulture. He has a passion for organic production. His 2014 report The Social and Economic Impact of the Whangarei Growers Market precipitated a series of regenerative food systems projects. Peter was a founding director of Local Food Northland in 2016 and in 2017 was the lead convenor for the Local Food Northland Conference. This in turn led to the establishment of the Northland Food Policy Network: He Kai Ora Tonu. Peter then went on to work with others around the country to establish the Aotearoa Food Policy Council.  Paul Hawken’s Project Drawdown was a catalyst for Peter to integrate food systems and climate change discourse in the Tai Tokerau context and in 2018, was the lead convenor for the Tai Tokerau Climate Change Action Conference. Peter is a founding trustee of the Climate Change Tai Tokerau Northland Trust.  He has established a network of 20 regenerative farmers and works to promote regenerative agriculture and support the development of a community of learning. He is working to achieve a transformation of agriculture in New Zealand.

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