Young conservationists bound for adventure

Department of Conservation —  04/05/2017

To celebrate Student Volunteer Week (1-7 May) DOC Volunteer Advisor Lucy Hardy profiles the young conservationists who are the latest recipients of DOC’s Outward Bound scholarships.

Each year Outward Bound and DOC team up to offer places to young conservationists on Outward Bound adventure courses.

It’s our way to say thank you to the young volunteers protecting our nature and our natural places. These scholarships also offer a great development opportunity for the conservation leaders of the future.

This year nine exceptional young volunteers have been awarded places on an Outward Bound adventure course. Here’s what they have to say about their volunteer experiences and how they are looking forward to their adventure.

Melanie Brown.

Melanie Brown

Melanie Brown has volunteered full-time with The Cape Sanctuary, the largest privately owned and funded restoration project of its kind in New Zealand. She has made a huge contribution to the project, with pest control, monitoring takahē, brown kiwi and little spotted kiwi, and coordinating the aviary husbandry for kākā and kākāriki.

Jara Swann.

Jara Swann

Volunteering in the same place has really allowed me to see the full impacts of what I am achieving, and I have gained a lot of satisfaction out of it”.

Surrounded by the bush, with Whetumatarau, the local maunga to the south and the Pacific Ocean to the north, Jara Swann has a real sense of pride for nature, the local environment and Te Araroa community.

Jara has been actively involved in the restoration of the pest free island Whangaokeno, where he has become an expert bird-handler, capturing and recording the petrel and shearwater species found there.

Outward Bound will be a wonderful opportunity to further develop my skills and interest in the New Zealand environment”.

Hearing Tuwharetoa kaumatua talk of the mauri of the whenua and awa, Lance Dickinson was inspired to become kaitiaki for the tuna (longfin and short fin eel) in his local waterways. Lance has trapped and transferred thousands of eels to enable them to continue their migration past hydro-dams.

Attending Outward Bound would further my matauranga of things putaiao and will strengthen my confidence. I intend to continue protecting native fish and plants and their habitats so am willing to do whatever it takes to make me better Katiaki”.

James Ranstead.

James Ranstead

James Ranstead has always had a love for the outdoors and an interest in conserving the environment. He’s supported many conservation groups, both near his home town of Pirongia and in Canterbury where he’s been a student.

James stepped into a leadership role as president of the Lincoln University environmental club, organising opportunities for other students to support local conservation groups.

James has been an active member of Growing Voices – a workshop series to empower the youth voice in conservation decision making – and contributed his thoughts on the review of the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park Management Plan.

Devon Whitmore.

Devon Whitmore

When the Rena grounded off the coast of Tauranga in 2011, Devon Whitmore joined his local Maketu community to help with the clean-up. This started a journey of awareness and connection to the mauri of the Maketu Estuary, once known as Te Pataka o Te Arawa – the food bowl of Te Arawa.

Devon supports the Maketu-Ongatoro Wetland Society with regular planting, weed and pest control, to help improve the breeding success of the tūturiwhatu (NZ dotterel) and other native species, and acts as Kaiako (teacher) with Ki Te Kura O Maketu, taking young students on field trips of the estuary.

Recreation in nature is a passion for Luke Johnston. As a keen mountain-biker, with the Nelson and South Canterbury Mountain Biking Clubs, Luke has built and maintained tracks for others to enjoy. He’s taken direct action for conservation by managing a trap line with the Richmond Bird Protection Society. As an active member of the Growing Voices programme, he’s made sure his voice is heard by conservation decision makers.

“Outward Bound sounds full on, really fun and full of adventures! I am always planning our next adventure, keen to explore the wonderful environment we live in

Luke Johnston.

Luke Johnston

Dallas Bradley.

Dallas Bradley

Dallas Bradley has been a part of Project Janzoon Student Advisory Board for the Abel Tasman National Park. Full of energy, keen to learn and work hard, Dallas has been taking action for conservation – planting and monitoring, walking trap lines, and spreading this passion to others. In 2016 Dallas attended the New Zealand Association of Environment Educators biennial conference as a youth leader and presenter, sharing her experiences about youth engagement in conservation.

With Project Janszoon I have found a passion that I now thrive off. My passion for the environment is ever growing and ever ready to find a new way to help conservation and getting communities involved”.

Jamie Brathwaite has been doing his bit to make Wellington predator-free. He joined up with the Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park Supporters and has been managing stoat lines, monitoring pest chew cards and coordinating the monitoring of kākā nest boxes.

Outward Bound provides a unique combination of mental and physical tests that will help me to break personal boundaries and grow in ways that will help me to contribute more effectively to my current conservation projects

Caitlyn Thomas.

Caitlyn Thomas

Caitlyn Thomas has been supporting the Oroua Blue Duck Protection Project since 2014, involving long trips into the back-country trapping predators. Caitlyn is looking forward to Outward Bound to build her confidence.

It will open the world of leadership up to me and the endless possibilities that lie there. I think beyond Outward Bound I will be in a great position to take on the next phase of my life and make the most of all opportunities that come my way including assisting the awesome conservation effort that is underway in New Zealand.”

Outward Bound offer opportunities to volunteers with community conservation groups through their Community Partner Programme.

Check out the NatureSpace website for more information

4 responses to Young conservationists bound for adventure


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    Valerie Chick 25/05/2017 at 7:11 pm

    Fantastic! Thank you for looking after our environment and our beautiful animals. Wish I were young enough to join you. Good luck,

    Nicolene and Colin J Williams 04/05/2017 at 6:16 pm

    This is all good news. Good look guys!


    Keep up the great work!