It was great to see such a wonderful response to our Nature Connection seminar last week with over 60 people coming together to learn from Steve Porteous of Human Bushcraft and Wild Living about simple ways in which to establish nature connection with their students and in their own lives.
Teachers, parents and local community organisations including Tasman Bay Guardians, Department of Conservation, TDC, Enviroschools & Tasman Environment Trust were all represented, so this provided a great chance for like-minded people to connect and share ideas about nature connection to benefit the wider community.
The seminar & networking event took advantage of Steve Porteous’ visit to Whenua Iti Outdoors this week to be involved in staff training. The purpose of the training was to extend our understanding and ability to deliver meaningful nature connection activities as part of our programming across all age groups in line with the Kaimahi for Nature Connection Project, which is funded by Jobs for Nature, in partnership with Ngati Koata and the Kōtahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance.
During the seminar Steve ran nature connection games, then entranced participants with stories around a roaring campfire. He talked about the disconnect so many people have with nature in a modern world, and the increasing time people spend on screens and inside. He spoke about the innate need to connect with nature – that connecting with, and being accepted by nature and the living things within it, is empowering and instils a grounding and confidence in people allowing them to be their true selves. Steve then gave the group suggestions about how they could ignite this nature connection and share it within our various roles in the community.
One suggestion that resonated with us as educators, is to never push away children’s curiosity and questioning about nature. Keep their connection alive and deepen them by asking them further questions. Steve suggested finding a sit spot not too far from home that people could go and spend 5 minutes a day just observing, expanding their senses, and connecting with the natural world. We all did this throughout the day of training with Steve and found it an incredibly valuable tool for maintaining energy and focus. Each time we returned to the same spot, you noticed something you hadn’t before, and over the course of the day, the awareness and connection to that spot grew. This is definitely something we will use more on our programmes!
“We were really happy with the support the seminar received and look forward to creating further opportunities for professional development around nature connection – there are so many people doing amazing things in this region, it will be great to support them in their mahi,” says Dana Carter, who leads the Kaimahi for Nature Connection Project at Whenua Iti.