Coromandel Outdoor Language Centre (COLC) is is currently expanding environmental volunteering opportunities for its English language students, in line with its aims to be an environmentally friendly school and to preserve the Coromandel Peninsula, one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand.
"We genuinely care and we are really doing things that make a difference. We have always given our students the opportunity to be involved in what we do, and now we are expanding this," explains director Kim Lawry.
Volunteering is in three main areas:
The first is the COLC Nursery, a New Zealand native plant nursery which has been operating for three years. The nursery grows New Zealand plants from seed and cuttings and nurtures them until they are ready to be planted out in the environment. Students help with all of the work in the nursery including the planting of the trees.
"We aim to plant the trees along stream and river banks in our area with the long term goal of improving water quality in the waterways," says Lawry. "We have more than 3000 plants in the nursery and the first plants were given away and planted last winter."
COLC also offers financial support and volunteer labour to the local Project Kiwi Trust, an organisation that works to ensure the survival of the national bird in this area. COLC has naming rights for two chicks each year and assists with the transportation and release of these birds into the wild. Volunteers also maintain and service the school's own trap line in the kiwi protection zone, which helps to control predators.
Thirdly, COLC works with the Department of Conservation (DOC) to provide volunteers for specific tasks like weed-clearing in the bush and track maintenance - tasks that the DOC manages but does not always have enough labour to complete. The school supply groups of students with supervision for afternoons and sometimes weekends on these projects.
COLC offers English Plus Environmental Volunteering from June to September. "This is the planting time for the trees, and there is plenty to do in the nursery," explains Kim.
The course includes normal morning English lessons at school and 2.5 hours of volunteering on three afternoons per week. And there is likely to be some weekend volunteering available too.
"This a great way for students to come to New Zealand, improve their English and to actually do something significant and worthwhile while they are here," adds Kim.
Environmental volunteering in New Zealand