Fiordland College students join forces with DOC

Department of Conservation —  24/08/2012

by Caroline Carter (and Victoria Wood)

The opportunity to be a ‘Ranger for a day’ has proven a hit with senior students from Fiordland College.

On Friday 3rd August more than 30 students teamed up with DOC rangers from Te Anau and got a glimpse of just what it takes to manage New Zealand’s largest National Park

Roving reporter, Vicky Wood, interviews classmates, Tarn Grant
and Annika Meyer, at Te Anau Wildlife Centre

‘Ranger for a day’ is part of DOC’s support of the Kids Restore the Kepler project. This major restoration project, led by the Fiordland Conservation Trust and funded by Kids Restore NZ, aims to inspire Fiordland’s young people to care for their environment now and in the future. 

Caroline Carter, the education coordinator for the project, said the idea to work-shadow a ranger came about following a realisation that every student has skills and interests that are needed to achieve conservation goals.

DOC Ranger Ken Bradley supervises Barlow Rewita as he helps to
shift 8 cubic metres of gravel using a ‘muck truck’

15 year old Victoria Wood became more aware of this than most as she got to be a ‘roving reporter’ for the day. Commenting that she might just be the luckiest of them all, Victoria got to visit her classmates in their various locations and see what they were up to. 

Here’s her story:

Rangers for a day – by Victoria Woo

Fiordland College Year 11 students were lucky enough to be the first rangers for a day. We got to work alongside DOC staff and gain an insight into what their many and varied jobs entail. 

One of the team members from DOC approached careers counsellor Mrs Humphries a few weeks earlier to ask if we wanted to work-shadow a DOC ranger for a day. We were pleased that Mrs Humphries accepted as we were eager to take part. On the day, the parent of a sick student rang up the school to notify them that their child would not be able to attend, however he was so eager to take part he turned up at the last minute! 

Daniel Carruthers adds a special pellet mix to the hoppers
in the takahe enclosure

The tasks that we experienced included fixing vehicles and machinery at the DOC workshop, gardening and feeding native birds at Te Anau Wildlife Centre, assisting with the takahe recovery programme at Burwood Bush, checking didymo cleaning stations around Lake Manapouri, servicing and re-setting traps on the Kepler track, carrying out compliance checks on the Milford Road, publishing articles for the DOC website, assisting with jobs in the Visitor Information Centre and undertaking a river survey of whio/blue duck with the help of a specially trained dog.  

Matte Servaty teams up with rangers Richard Kindsey and Lynsey Murray
to carry out didymo checks around Lake Manapouri

A group of students also got to carry out maintenance work on the track at Tui Bay using a range of machinery under close supervision. This team shifted over eight cubic metres of gravel in under three hours. That’s twice the size of an average 4WD truck, and they did all this with only a ten minute lunch break. “This dedication is outstanding” said DOC ranger Ken Bradley. 

Barlow Rewita helps to shift gravel

There is no doubt that the other teams have put in the same amount of effort. DOC ranger Catherine Brimecombe said “giving people an insight can sometimes inspire them, and sharing the experience will help this grow”. With the positive ‘can do attitude’ of Fiordland College students DOC is hoping to make ‘Ranger for a day’ a permanent fixture in the annual calendar.  

The day with the team at DOC was inspiring for us all, but it was even more significant for our four exchange students, three of them from Germany and one from Thailand. This was the perfect opportunity for them to find out what living in Fiordland is all about and just what New Zealand has to offer right outside their back door. 

We all seized the experience the DOC team gave us and would recommend this opportunity to everyone. A lot of memories were made, including 15 year old Daniel Carruthers who got sat on by hungry kakas while feeding them breakfast. 

Some students were caught in action by our photographer Julia, and you can see these pictures on the Kids Restore the Kepler website.  

Julia Cruz sets about making a photographic slideshow of the day

“We were all thinking that we’d be turned into greenies,” said Julia Cruz. “However, DOC has showed us what it takes to have a job like this, and that it’s based on working as a team, building ideas together and getting the community in on it too.  It’s a really positive work place that we can all contribute to,” she added.