WWF's Conservation Innovation Awards

Gathering votes
Gathering votes

Make Every School a Forest School

We want to give every primary school child in Whanganui (and beyond!?!) access to nature immersion education (forest schooling)- while also developing a model for primary schools across NZ to follow to include forest schooling in their curriculum.

This unique program will be a partnership between a small community group and primary schools that will allow children to experience being in nature in a way many of them have never been.

We will provide each class with regular forest school sessions at a site near Whanganui, with a trained facilitator, equipment, and wet weather gear. We will also provide teachers with resources to help them link these nature experiences with the curriculum and document student learning. We will also oversee the RAMS and health and safety processes for the schools, to ensure boards are comfortable enacting this amazing programming.

What conservation problem are you trying to solve?

The first step to ensuring people care about nature is providing them with experiences that give them a connection to the natural world, and understanding of how the natural world works, and the tools to become creative problem solvers.

NZ primary school students are missing out on learning opportunities because schools are not equipped to provide them with nature immersion experiences. The barriers we have found to this type of outdoor programming are:
-Teachers feeling overwhelmed linking outdoor experiences to the curriculum and documenting learning
-Lack of trained forest school facilitators
-Health and safety concerns by boards and principals
-Lack of appropriate wet weather gear for students

How are you going to solve this conservation problem?

We want to remove barriers for students getting out into nature.

We will provide schools with regular forest school sessions at a site near Whanganui, with a trained facilitator, equipment, and wet weather gear.

We will also provide teachers with resources to help them link these nature experiences with the curriculum and document student learning. These resources can be made available to teachers across NZ who are interested in implementing the forest school approach.

We will also oversee the RAMS and health and safety processes for the schools, through a certification process, to ensure boards and principals are comfortable enacting this amazing programming.

We will get feedback and document the program so that we can then travel to other cities and link up with other forest school facilitators to help them better serve primary schools across NZ.

What makes your idea new and unique?

Although forest schools have existed in Europe for over 50 years, and are gaining in popularity around the world, there are currently very few programs in New Zealand. Our program is unique because it brings an exciting and unique pedagogy within mainstream NZ schools. Programs such as these have typically been limited to families who can afford private schools. But this model would seek to break down barriers to make nature immersion education accessible to all schools.

Who will use your idea, and how will they benefit?

Immediately the program will benefit primary school students and teachers in Whanganui. However, the work that goes into this program will benefit primary schools across NZ and other forest school facilitators.

What tasks or activities do you need investment for? How would you spend a $25,000 grant?

We would spend the grant on:

-Wages for delivery of nature immersion programs in Whanganui

-Teacher trainings to encourage nature immersion education locally and in other regions

-Curriculum planning and development that links forest schooling to NZ curriculum

-Creating resources for teachers to easily document student learning

Equipment –

            -mud trousers


            -loose parts

            -hand tools

            -tool cabinets/boxes

            -portable composting toilets


Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident?


I have read and agree to the Crowdicity Terms of Use, the Conservation Innovation Awards 2017 Supplemental Terms and Conditions, and the Crowdicity Privacy Policy


List five other ideas posted in the challenge that excite you. Why?

Te Wānanga Papa Taiao Pāuaua / Earthcare Enterprise Academies
Because they are working within the public school system to encourage secondary student to be creative problem solvers. Encouraging students to use their ideas to solve real world problems is the best way to foster a love of learning and inspire a new generation of conservationists.

Tend your Planet/War On Weeds
Again, I love that it engages young people in an exciting way. I personally love games of any kind, and think that this idea taps into the trend of geocaching and pokemon, which have been really popular. I could see it gaining traction.
Te Rarawa Noho Taiao: Growing the next generation of Iwi environmental leaders
I love that this is a marae-based approach. All of our ideas should be supported by tangata whenua, and have a componant of biculturalism in some aspect. This idea caused me to go back to my idea and ensure it includes a bicultural componant.
Because as rural land owners we know how hard it is to control invasive plants, and how beneficial it would be to have support from neighbours and councils.
Fluke & Flipper: Enhancing the Hector's Dolphin Sightings App
I like that it is already proven to work, and is an idea that is expanding. It affects marine mammals on the west coast, near where we live.

How could you improve your idea?

I would like to ensure that our nature immersion programs include Te Reo Maori and kaupapa Maori. We will engage with kaumatua active in the local environmental movement to ensure that our practices are as inclusive as possible. We will seek guidance to ensure that the resources we produce and the content we deliver is culturally appropriate.

I would also like to include an additional pre-consultation with teachers in the areas where we deliver to ensure that we are able to alleviate the barriers they see for including nature play in their curriculum, as what they see on the ground might not match up with what we are seeing.

edited on Oct 14, 2017 by Dani Lebo

Liz Gallo Oct 14, 2017

As a former teacher, I know that outdoor play is a valuable experience for children. It challenges them to problem solve, work as a team and develop effective solutions. These are real life applications that are not found in textbooks or classrooms. Great idea for creating well rounded human beings and allowing the natural "explorer" in every child to emerge!


Heiko Kaiser Oct 14, 2017

Great and still the new world of technology can be combined in environmental projects like Geo Caching, etc.... I have developed the Kids Program at one of the top Lodges of the World. The travel families that came and experienced the nature of NZ were amazing. Form sponsoring Kiwi to Sanctuaries. Hosted David Ballamy, Reg and Joy Grundy, Movie Stars and many more over the years. All of them were looking for nature and a point of difference. High end tourist families would love to see our kids guiding them through the forests. They would even fund traps and become part of it. We could offer a trap that they can see active or activated from home or any corner of the world.... Think of that?

;-) HK


Andrew Lee Oct 14, 2017

great idea, our kids are the future for conservation


Jacqueline Brand-Holt Oct 14, 2017

I am a city girl and moving to NZ certainly got me closer to green bush, participating in nature play with Dani as the parent of my two year old has been an immersive experience and I can attest to how much can be taught and learned about just being in nature. For my daughter this experience I know will be the foundation of a confident love of being outdoors.


ivy.mar Oct 14, 2017

Great idea.


Dani Lebo Oct 14, 2017

Check out our video and see what our idea is all about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ht6EBZe4evc&feature=youtu.be


Carol Lebo Oct 14, 2017

Just today I went to a program devoted to small farms in our area. These farms and their farmers began with children who played outdoors and learned to respect the land, themselves and others.


Heiko Kaiser Oct 14, 2017

We should work together as we have the equipment for the schools!


Jon Marple Oct 14, 2017

Exciting idea.


Stephanie Ward Oct 14, 2017

My family has been involved in this nature playgroup since the beginning and I can attest to the to the many benefits to being involved. A love of the outdoors, in any weather, caring for the environment, challenging themselves, caring for each other.


Becky Wilson Oct 14, 2017

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone


Megan Somerville Oct 19, 2017

Nga mihi for putting this forward. I see one of the innovations of this model is that you are wanting to work with clusters of schools instead of one individual school (which is what is happening at the moment where individual schools have strong environmental bush curriculum). Could you talk a bit more about how you envisage the collective of Whanganui schools would work, and also how working with Whanganui iwi will influence your programme.