One of the things I’ve come to expect as working as an Enviroschools facilitator, is to expect the unexpected. It was most definitely the unexpected when I received an email from the National Team informing me that the new Minister for the Environment, Amy Adams, was going to be in Queenstown in a weeks time and was hoping she might be able to¬† take the opportunity to look around one of our local Enviroschools…….crikey…..not your average every day email huh?

What can you do, aside from start sending a few emails around the place to see if it would be possible and keeping excitement and nerves to a reasonable level? Queenstown Primary and Queenstown Montessori were the obvious choices, central and pretty close together giving the opportunity to see two different sectors working on the same programme. Both of them were keen as mustard, however as the week rolled by, time became a critical factor and the Minister was only able to visit QPS.

QPS are incredibly committed to the Enviroschools programme so I knew this tour wouldn’t be a problem for them, but I’m not sure how well prepared I was to be completely blown away by the students of their envirogroup. I arrived early and was a guinea pig for their presentation and slide show. Everything was looking fantastic, the schools grounds were looking spick and span and there was a slightly nervous but very excited vibe around the place.

Myself and a small party of students greeted Stefan Borowy (QLDC Solid Waste Manager and my contract manager) and the Minister at the school gate. The kapa haka group then performed a waiata for us, they were AMAZING! So far everything was looking and feeling fantastic.

The Envirogroup, with the help of Nicky, had prepared a presentation about their Enviroschools journey which they delivered to the Minister in the staffroom. Listening to them talk it was obvious that they get it. Even though they were reading from scripts you could hear in their voices that they really understood why they were doing this work. It was obvious that they had been involved in all stages of making these action projects happen, and best of all, the smiles on their faces were huge!

The Minister loved it. The students kept her attention and she made some really pertinent comments at the end of the slide show. What a fantastic opportunity for these students to have the Minister for the Environment come and visit their place and tell them that the work they are doing really lines up with the aims of the Ministry. She had a lovely manner about her, speaking with the students at their level and really engaging them, it was so heart warming to witness this happen.

With the slide show over it was time to tour the school. The school recycling system, native tree planting, raised beds, kowhai nursery, murals, bird feeders, worm farms, packaging free lunches…..the positive actions were evident everywhere. The students spoke with confidence and pride about all of these projects that they had been involved with making happen. Quite frankly I was left speechless. The feeling of pride that I felt was incredible.

From what I could tell, the Minister really enjoyed the opportunity to see where some of the Ministry’s funds go. What actually happens to it and the positive actions that are a result of so many projects that they support. QPS, you did yourselves proud!