Teacher’s holiday is one for the birds
Wanaka teacher and conservationist Christina Greenwood will be spending her spring counting yellow-eyed penguins on a remote subantarctic island, after winning an Environmental Educator Award worth $6000 from the Sir Peter Blake Trust.
Greenwood, 52, is one of two award recipients announced last week by the trust, the Department of Conservation, Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust and Ministry of Education.
The other recipient is Voyager NZ Maritime Museum Educator, Frazer Dale, 42, of West Auckland.
In November, they will sail 465km south with four DoC workers to spend 10 days at the remote and uninhabited Auckland Islands.
The Auckland Islands are designated as a marine reserve and wildlife sanctuary.
The rugged environment has proved too harsh for people who have attempted to settle there.
Eight shipwrecks are known to have occurred around the islands.
Greenwood is an experienced sailor and spent 2008 sailing the Pacific Ocean with her husband Ross and children Ellie and Erin.
‘‘But I have never been to the Southern Ocean, so that will be a challenge. I have been to Stewart Island, but no further . . . My mother nearly fell over laughing when I told her I was going to count penguins,’’ she said.
Greenwood is from northern England and moved with her family to Wanaka 12 years ago.
For most of that time, she has taught geography, tourism and social studies at Cromwell College and the ‘‘crash course in yelloweyed penguins’’ will be right up her alley.
She will live on the 28m sailing boat Evohe, captained by former Cromwell man Steve Kafka, and expects to be up before 5am to get ready for a four-hour stint on shore counting birds.
‘‘It is good professional development for me. I am hoping to write some curriculum material around it in social studies, science and English, particularly for the juniors.
‘‘I am looking forward to coming back to talk to kids about it. We as educators have got to make sure they are well informed as they are going to be the decision-makers of the future. Hopefully my journey might inspire young people in Cromwell and Wanaka to get involved in youth Peter Blake expeditions,’’ she said.
She is also keen to talk with community groups about her experiences.
Sir Peter Blake Trust chief executive Shelley Campbell said the trust was thrilled to award grants to Greenwood and Dale.
The teachers would contribute to an important environmental project.
Awild life: Cromwell College teacher Christina Greenwood, 52, of Wanaka will be surveying subantarctic penguins in the Auckland Islands in November.