Get involved with natural history
Combining natural sciences and creative arts is the hook aiming to get young people interested in their surroundings.
Natural History in Your Community is a free youth-led programme run by Auckland War Memorial Museum.
It’s designed for 15 to 24-yearolds who are already ‘‘environmental champions’’ in their communities, youth outreach programmer Amiria Puia-Taylor says.
The first part of the day involves participants getting out into the field to choose a plant to work with.
‘‘It can be whatever catches their eye,’’ guest educator Charlotte Milne says.
‘‘During the field work they’ll select a plant to work with that is either a threat or is something that is being threatened.’’
Along the way they might come across things like insects or feathers, Puia-Taylor says.
‘‘They can then tell us things like what birds are in that area and whether they are introduced or native. The emphasis is on the botany, understanding what is a pest or a weed and what isn’t and what we can do to monitor that,’’ the 26-year-old says.
The second half of the programme looks at what makes a great museum specimen.
Guest educators teach participants how to document the plant using the cyanotype photographic process.
By examining the specimen the young people get to see the veins, holes, or evidence of threats eating it, Puia-Taylor says.
They also learn how to create stencil art with their specimen and imprint it on their own T-shirt or hoodie.
‘‘At the end of it everyone gets to take home their own taonga (treasure) which might be the art form itself or snippets of knowledge,’’ Puia-Taylor says.
The focus is on learning but it’s also fun, Milne says. ‘‘It’s not like a lecture. ‘‘It’s a chance to get involved with people their own age that are passionate about the environment,’’ the 17-year-old says.
Auckland War Memorial Museum youth outreach programmer Amiria Puia-Taylor and guest educator Charlotte Milne.