Over the first week of the Term 1 holidays, I was fortunate to attend the Youth Enviro-Leaders Forum, a week-long conference held by the Sir Peter Blake Trust in Taranaki with 56 young leaders from around New Zealand.
The forum tackles the most pressing environmental issues facing New Zealand, with this year’s theme being climate change.
One of the most enlightening things from the forum was analysing water samples taken from Port Taranaki; in addition to a variety of fascinating plankton, we discovered heaps of tiny particles of plastic in the water. This raises some scary questions about the degree to which plastic is harming our environment, including the issue of not only how we encourage New Zealanders to stop contributing to pollution, but also how we go about undoing the damage we’ve already done. There are obvious issues with trying to suck out millions of microscopic particles of plastic from our oceans and waterways.
I loved the opportunity to meet a massive group of passionate, inspiring and highly intelligent young people from across the country (and felt slightly insecure about my own limited knowledge of environmental issues) and I now have a network of YELFies to work alongside in order to make change on a national scale. We already have a group of lower South Island delegates working on a plan to reduce waste in schools, and I’m excited to see how this initiative progresses.
If any younger students are interested in attending YELF next year or in the years ahead, please have a chat with me around school or email me at email@example.com. The forum is an awesome opportunity and also opens the door for future involvement with the Sir Peter Blake Trust, including their Young Blake Expeditions to the Auckland Islands and the Kermadecs.
More information about YELF can be found at www.sirpeterblaketrust.org/youth-enviroleaders-forum