Ranger experience for Peninsula kids

Department of Conservation —  23/08/2014

By Paul Pope, Deputy Chair of the Otago Peninsula Community Board

Paul Pope.

Paul Pope

One of the great things about living on the Otago Peninsula, and having children at a local school, is you get to do some of the cool things that they do as well.

I was one of two parents who took a group of children from Portobello School to Okia Reserve for World Ranger Day with the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust.

Getting children out of the classroom, and providing a genuine ranger experience, was a great concept. Having pupils from the three Peninsula schools was pure genius.

Like it or not there is a need for conservation groups to be prepared to pass on the mantle of stewardship onto a younger generation, and the earlier we do this the better.

Getting kids out of the classroom

Out at Okia Reserve—located next to Victory Beach

Peninsula kids are fortunate that they grow up in a landscape inhabited by iconic wildlife species. We can only hope that this experience, and their own inquiry, will develop either empathetic citizens or active conservationists.

The pyramid landscape

“Pyramids” at Okia Reserve

What I really enjoyed about the ranger day was the hands on activities that provided a genuine wildlife management experience.

From exercises in measuring and identifying birds, to pest control and habitat creation, each activity was designed to show what really needs to be done in wildlife conservation.

Hands on. Take aim. Photo: Paul Pope.

Hands on. Take aim!

So much of what actually goes on in the field is unknown to the public, and to be able to provide that experience for our school children was great.

I’m sure many of the pupils will share their experience with their parents and family.

Planting. Photo: Paul Pope.

Planting at Okia

After events like this it’s good to pause and reflect. One of the things that stood out for me was how much the Peninsula relies on voluntary organisations and citizen conservationists to protect and advocate for our wildlife and landscape.

The voluntary hours, fundraising and hard work put into places like Okia is quite staggering. It also highlights my view that we all have a stake in nature and a role to play in protecting it.

After my experience at Okia it’s not difficult to understand just how important that role is and how rewarding it can be for our children today and in the future.


This abridged post is from the story ‘Home on the Range’ on Paul Pope’s blog.

Thanks Paul for letting us share it here on the Conservation Blog.