Get in­volved with nat­u­ral history

Central Leader - - NEWS - By KA­RINA ABA­DIA

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 youth­led pro­gramme run by Auck­land War Me­mo­rial Mu­seum.

It’s de­signed for 15 to 24-year-olds 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, PuiaTay­lor 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, PuiaTay­lor 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,’’ PuiaTay­lor says.

The fo­cus of the pro­gramme 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.

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