Teens dig in for water quality

Students from Palmerston North Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools joined Horizons Regional Council freshwater staff for a planting day near Tokomaru this week.

The day was organised by New Zealand Young Farmers who run Teen Ag clubs through high schools to engage students interested in the primary industries.
Horizons freshwater advisor Catherine McManus says she got involved following a local landowner, who has a connection to New Zealand Young Farmers, was a recent recipient one of Horizons’ freshwater grants.
“As a result of the grant the landowner received funding assistance to plant waterways on his farm. He had 750 plants to go in and saw it as a perfect opportunity to invite the Teen Ag groups out to his farm to help and do some hands-on learning.”
Ms McManus says the day started with a session about how riparian margins contribute to improving water quality and what ecosystems they support.
“One of the aims of Teen Ag is to help students gain knowledge about the primary industries and upskill. So we taught them that riparian margins can essentially act as kidneys for the earth by filtering phosphorus and sediment before they enter waterways and the correct way to plant natives.” 
Taranaki Manawatū territory manager for Teen Ag, Megan Bates, says the Year 9-13 students are 20 of the 2,000 members nationwide.
“These students are part of a school club that meets regularly to listen to industry guest speakers, go on field trips, attend leadership courses and camps, and up-skilling workshops. It was great that there was the opportunity of this planting day to get the students out on a farm to learn and contribute to improving water quality.”
Boys’ High student Leighton Edwards said he now knows why riparian margins are important.
“They help improve the standards of our waterways by reducing sediment and encouraging wildlife in and around the water.”
There are 15 Teen Ag clubs running in the Taranaki Manawatū New Zealand Young Farmer region.  For more information about Horizons freshwater grants please contact the freshwater team on free phone 0508 800 800.