Creating a Classroom in Nature

In the weeks to come, Kimbolton Reserve, once a hidden track is set to be become a well-marked, inviting space all because of the interest and passion of neighbour Graeme Jensen and Kimbolton School teacher, Heidi Morton.

A unique collaboration has formed in Kimbolton.  While the ages and professions of each contributing member is vastly different, the common denominator is their enthusiasm for the Kimbolton Bush Reserve.

The reserve sits on Council land but like many trails around the district, it’s a place loved by many and in turn cared for by many.  The work done is without payment or recognition and yet the small working bees and classroom time in the reserve is evident.

Graeme Jensen is a lifelong neighbouring resident to the reserve.  He is in his 80’s and has done an enormous amount of work trapping pests and trimming the track.  He’s even created a map so that visitors can assess which route to take and what they might see.

Some of the youngest contributors come from Kimbolton School where the senior students, led by their passionate teacher Heidi Morton have created a work program to help enhance the reserve, while at the same time learning about the trees and the wildlife.  Morton has linked the work to the Enviroschools programme with the support of Regional Co-ordinator Sarah Williams and Manawatū Facilitator Rowena Brown.

Enviroschools is an action-based programme that schools can opt into through Horizons Regional Council.  The programme empowers young people to design and lead sustainable projects as part of their learning.  The Kimbolton Reserve is the chosen project for Kimbolton School – and the work they have mapped out to complete is remarkable.

As it’s a council reserve, James Adamson, MDC Community Assets Liaison was quick to add to the work plan.  “Linking connections of people to help educate and encourage custodians of nature is a rewarding part of my role,” Adamson explains.  “The work Heidi Morton has developed for the class benefits not only the students but the community and visitors to the reserve.”

Adamson introduced Aaron Madden, a Biodiversity specialist employed through Green by Nature to the team.  Madden took time to walk the track with the students to talk about trees, weed management and explain why trapping is important.

Adamson, on behalf of the Council, has also commissioned a seat to be installed on the track and a table to be placed just inside the reserve that can be used as a learning area for the class.

As the reserve track fills with excited voices and lots of questions, it’s clear that Morton has found a fit for this group of students through nature’s classroom.

In the weeks to come what was once a hidden track in Kimbolton is set to become a well-marked, inviting space and all because of the interest and passion of a neighbour and a teacher.