EnviroChallenge is a one day, high energy event for secondary students from all over the Bay of Plenty intended to inspire environmental leadership. Participating this year were Mount Maunganui College (hosts for the day), Katikati College, Papamoa College, Tauranga Girls College, John Paul College (Rotorua) and Trident High School (Whakatane). The day was sponsored by Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Sustainability Options.
Each year participating students must prepare a presentation of the choice (we had a dance this year!), to share with the judges:
- the sustainability vision for their school,
- what action plans they have in place,
- what activities they are doing, and
- what they have done to support sustainable outcomes for their school and community.
This was the brilliant performance we were treated to by John Paul College from Rotorua. It was to "Fight Song" and shared the students love and sense of kaitiakitanga for the Utuhina Stream that runs through their school.
As well as the presentations, the students are asked to prepare for a debate. The topic this year; Should the Govt impose a statutory fee on plastic bag use in New Zealand?
Each school represented a different stakeholder and position. The result was very nearly explosive!, but all in the name of fun and genuine passion for the environmental issues we are all facing.
Judges were absolutely blown away by the calibre of the students debating and commented on how well researched, articulate and professional they all were throughout. The arguments were excellent and hard hitting, one phrase stood out in particular and became a brilliant metaphor for the day...'what would the dolphins say?' in the context of all of the plastic in the ocean. This was demonstrated again by one of the art challenge creations!
Judges for the day were Stephanie MacDonald from Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Ilze Kruis from Western Bay of Plenty District Council, Michelle Elborn from Bay Conservation Alliance and our guest judge for the debate, Angie Warren-Clark from the Labour Party.
We can't speak highly enough of the students who participate in EnviroChallenge, each year they impress and inspire, not only each other, but the teachers and Sustainability Options as well. We learn so much from their deep understanding of the issues and the way they can come up with innovative solutions at a moments notice. Already, only hours after Challenge Day has ended, relationships have been formed, contacts shared, and plans made to take some of the ideas into action.
Some of the other issues discussed (as well as single use plastic) were urban biodiversity, the complexities around transport and the emissions it creates, renewable energy generation and zero waste.
So who won? The judges had an exceptionally difficult time this year, but they did, after much deliberation announce the Western Bay of Plenty Award to Mount Maunganui College, the team shown on the left. The EnviroChallenge Award went to Trident College. Both schools are respective award winners for the second year running!
Sustainability Options is excited and privileged to work with these students and schools on their sustainability journeys and we thank everyone who helps make EnviroChallenge possible!
Watch this space for these students!