Bug pots, binoculars and bbqs – getting kids involved in conservation
It’s not just about alliterating the title if you want to hold a successful KCC event apparently – although that certainly helps.
It’s also about uncovering natural adventures on your doorstep and coming up with great ideas – something our passionate KCC Co-ordinators are very good at. Oh and the absolute awe, fascination and fabulous questions that only children can think up too, of course.
From visiting Mudflats and Mangroves to sowing and throwing seed balls of kawakawa, karaka and kowhai – KCC (Kiwi Conservation Club – the kid’s arm of Forest & Bird) events are all about getting kids interested in nature and showing them how they can make a difference to their native wildlife and wild places.
Rosemary Cotman has been the KCC Co-ordinator for the South Auckland kids’ club since 2011. Rosemary was a secondary school science teacher and has now retired to Kawakawa Bay in an area where weka are regular visitors to her house. Her children, now grown up, were all members of KCC and she has a wealth of ideas on how to get kids keen.
“We give new members what we call a KCC passport on their first visit,” says Rosemary.
“They can draw what they’ve seen, stick things in that they’ve collected or document what they’ve learned. It’s a wonderful memento of all the activities they’ve been on and something that I hope they will look back on fondly.”
There are many ways that KCC events can help children to learn and grow in a way that is fun but also teaches them important lessons about conservation and how to support nature.
Take the ‘K’ Day At Kawakawa Bay in May. Kids collected native seeds beginning with ‘k’ – kawakawa, karaka, kowhai plus other native seeds. These were made into balls of clay that will be spread into a local bush restoration project later in August during the ‘Picnic in the Pines’ event, so they can learn how to do this in their own backyards.
Rosemary clearly gets huge fulfilment from her role as a KCC Co-ordinator and now has three other local co-ordinators who are also incredibly experienced. They volunteer their time to help organise the South Auckland events that take place once a month between February and November and are aimed at children aged 12 and under.
Meet the other South Auckland KCC Co-ordinators: Julia Watson, who studied botany and zoology and is now the Education and Partnerships co-ordinator at the Auckland Botanic Gardens. Averil Read, who joined KCC in 2002 as an eight year old and has just completed a degree in marine ecology; and Averil’s mother Elaine who grew up in Auckland and has spent many hours sailing and enjoying the Hauraki Gulf islands.
Upcoming events in Auckland can be seen here and include mid-winter fun and games at the Auckland Botanical Gardens in July, a Picnic in the Pines in August and a joint trip with the Waikato KCC branch to wetlands with David Lawrie of the National Wetland Trust.
There are KCC groups at most Forest & Bird branches throughout the country. Find out more on the KCC website www.kcc.org.nz. If you’re interested in becoming a KCC co-ordinator call your local Forest & Bird branch or contact Melanie Dash, Kiwi Conservation Club Officer on 04 803 1013, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Children must be accompanied by an adult on all trips – and from experience most grown-ups seem to enjoy and learn as much as the kids. Though their questions aren’t quite as good of course!