SHARE
Hands on learning . . . Waitaki Girls’ High School head girl Tilly King spent the first week of her school holidays taking part in the Blake Inspire annual forum in Waikato. She is pictured rafting at Waitomo Caves as part of the week-long programme. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Tilly King has set herself an ambitious environmental goal – to increase the birdlife at Waitaki Girls’ High School.

The Waitaki Girls’ High School head girl revealed her plan of action at the Blake Inspire annual forum in Waikato, in front of 34 other secondary schools pupils passionate about the environment and wanting to make change.

Tilly (17) spent the first week of her school holidays taking part in the national forum.

It was an opportunity for her to develop her leadership skills, learn about environmental issues and interact with scientists, conservation experts and New Zealand business leaders involved in sustainability initiatives.

Based in Cambridge for the week, the year 11 to 13 pupils visited a dairy farm to learn about innovation and sustainable farming practices, and heard from industry specialists about the future of farming and food production in New Zealand.

They also took part in a policy development session and visited Sanctuary Mountain, the Waitomo Caves and Raglan Harbour, where they went kayaking and carried out marine science experiments with Niwa scientists.

“It was pretty full-on,” she said.

Leaders . . . Thirty-five secondary schools pupils passionate about the environment and wanting to make change were selected for this year’s Blake Inspire programme. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

On the last day of the programme, the pupils had to present an action plan and a goal they had developed for their schools and communities during the programme.

Tilly’s was to increase the birdlife at Waitaki Girls’ and the bush reserve behind the school.

She planned to do so by trapping predators and pests and monitoring the native and non-native species in the area, and hoped to involve another school in the project.

“It was really cool at [Sanctuary Mountain] seeing trapping and how the birdlife just thrives,” she said.

“I think it’s quite a practical way for kids to get involved, as well.

“You can monitor the traps and keep rebaiting them.”

Tilly said the Blake Inspire programme was a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.

She made some “incredible connections and friends for life”.

“I really enjoyed meeting so many new people – and everyone is kind of connected with their passion for the environment,” she said.

“I feel very grateful to have been selected for the programme, and to experience the opportunities we were given.

“I encourage anyone who is thinking of applying to apply next year.”

Tilly is a member of her school’s Enviro Club and School Strike 4 Climate Waitaki. Next year, she planned to study environmental science at university.