Nature’s little warriors
Out of a combination of sheer whimsy and curiosity, I signed myself up to become a KCC Co-ordinator last year.
I had always wanted to smuggle myself onto our Kiwi Conservation Club (KCC) trips.
For the past six years, I have worked as Forest & Bird’s web editor and I’d always look longingly at the kiwi crèche visits and offshore overnighters and quietly cursed the fact that I was 30 years too old.
Indeed, when I first started the job at Forest & Bird, I would discreetly take home large bundles of KCC magazines for a little bed-time reading or ‘research’.
Let’s just say that my inner child has always been very much alive, however, in recent years I felt like this fresh-thinking had been censored out of existence.
I wanted to see the world through the eyes of our young eco-warriors, to re-connect with nature and – through this educational role – get a good grasp on nature’s rules.
I also had a small hope of perhaps teaching the next generation a thing or two about nature.
So I signed myself up to become a KCC co-ordinator.
I had visions of myself leading gaggles of enthusiastic eco-warriors to bird rescue centres, zoos, coastal birding spots and perhaps to some off-shore island sanctuaries.
Since then, I have run two activities – a fairy tern decoy painting event and a lesson on NZ’s natural history to a group of sea-scouts.
And it turns out that these little greenies had a lot to teach me. At each event, the questions would come thick and fast.
Accepted truths had to be fully unpacked and explained – as the questions ‘why, why, why’ burbled forth from the mouths of these curious babes.
It’s exhilarating being in the firing line, and also, quite disarming. There’s no-one to defer to and – gasp – no google.
So far, I have fielded questions about everything from the diet of our fairy tern to our kakapo’s breeding fickle habits. Often, the questions are quite bonkers.
One young fella: “Why do we need hydro-dams? Why don’t we just rub bark together to create fires? “
Me (silently reeling before I composed my answer) “Perhaps! But it’s better to have electricity – we like lights and heating, eh? And there’s always wind-farms, solar energy and geothermal plants that can help to create electricity?”
The freshness of their ideas and their colourful thinking really buoyed me.
Our conversations would travel deep into the land of the ridiculous, lurch into the land of the impossible and then, when it had strayed too far, I’d try to steer the conversation back into the land of reality.
These kids had the kind of playful thinking that I liked. Their uncensored thinking and can-do attitude did great things to my battle-weary soul.
And they could totally out-nerd me. In fact, some of the kids came to the outings with large natural history books tucked under their arms, so they could look up facts (and perhaps cross-check my ramblings?!).
So before each event I would swot up so that I could impress these pint-size examiners.
A few years back, I felt like I had killed off half of my brain and given google the job of information storage and retrieval, so I could concentrate on more pressing things. Now, I’ve reclaimed that part and I’m the proud owner of a noggin that’s firing on all cylinders.
All in all, this new side-line job has done me a wonder of good. My brain is growing back, my sense of wonderment is restored and – thankfully – I’m managing to keep a couple of steps ahead of these little nature nuts.
If you would like to become a KCC Co-ordinator, please contact our KCC Manager, Tiff Stewart (email@example.com).
To see a video of the fairy tern painting event, see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4tQazDkK68