Projects ally youth with environment

Inland Otago Conservation Award finalist and Malcam Charitable Trust Conservation Corps youth worker Michelle Wilson talks to Sarah Marquet about the 12-week programme for youth that has completed an "impressive array" of amenity improvements.

What is it about the project/activity you are involved in that got you interested and continues to interest you?

Malcam Charitable Trust conservation corps youth worker Michelle Wilson group: (From left) PJ...
Malcam Charitable Trust conservation corps youth worker Michelle Wilson group: (From left) PJ Shead, Michelle Wilson, Syd Broadly, Patrick Macrae, Mark Harrison, Chelsea Cuttris, Rob Raill, Sheerie Seque, David Foote, Kayling Young, Marion Sutton, Josh Ritchie, Tabitha Comins. Inset: (From left) Tabitha Comins, Josh Ritchie, David Foote and Michelle Wilson painting the completed fence. Photo supplied
Being offered this amazing project in St Bathans was great for the group, with such a variety of tasks and the opportunity to develop a sense of ownership of the project. I enjoy working with the Department of Conservation on projects, as they work alongside my students and offer them hands-on experience.

How do the project/s you're involved in benefit conservation?

The post office was built in the 1860s in the gold-rush era, so this project was very much about conserving history and restoring it for the benefit of the wider community.

What do you get out of your work in conservation, and how do you fit it in?

I am a youth worker with the Malcam Charitable Trust. Our programmes have assisted in the conservation of Dunedin and Central Otago for the last 20 years.

My role is to offer our young people opportunities to get involved in projects that they can have a sense of pride and ownership in, as well as connecting with the community and learning about conservation.

What challenges do you face and how have you overcome them?

There aren't too many challenges; finding projects of value that are supported by others is most important for me. Having my students working alongside other community members is my primary goal.

Many of our young people have learned a lot about conservation and what that might mean in real terms in their lives.

What would you like to do in the future, re conservation?

I will continue to work with agencies such as the Department of Conservation, Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust and Sinclair Wetlands to undertake projects that protect and enhance the environment and the flora and fauna that live in it.

[I will also] continue to offer our young people a chance to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others by contributing their time, energy and learning to value the environment in our community.



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