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Churchill Park School - Catherine Shipton

2015 | Measure to treasure our ecological biodiversity

SchoolChurchill Park School

HostWildlands Consultants Ltd


Catherine Shipton is a primary trained teacher with over 20 years experience. She is in awe at the wonders of nature, and is passionate about the protection of our environment. Her aim is to have enthusiastically engaged students who are curious, and who love learning so they can contribute as informed citizens to the world they live in.

Catherine was hosted by Wildlands Consultants Ltd. They are an ecological consultancy who have a wide range of clients, their role is to provide planning and implementation of ecological restoration.  Catherine had many opportunities to don the high visibility jacket and work alongside the scientist learning about the many facets of their work in the field.

She learnt about the different tools and correct techniques used for collecting data in the field. Gee Minnow traps were used to collect Northland Mudfish, Point Center Quadrants (PCQ) were used to gather raw data around density and dominance frequency of plant species. Bird call recorders indicated the presence of Banded rail in a selected area. Electro fishing determined abundance, density, and species composition, Nets were used as part of a survey of freshwater habitats, collecting invertebrates. Cylinders collected intertidal sediments and organisms in mangroves. Artificial cover objects (ACO) were set to simulate a home for lizards, Possum traps, Tracker tunnels which revealed footprints of pests target species.

Catherine’s deepest understanding came from the Northland mudfish monitoring project. This was part of a long term study. It incorporated researching current literature, setting the minnow traps, collecting and recording, analysis and reporting patterns and trends.

Other valuable experiences were working with scientists at the museum, attending seminars and community based meetings, participating in school community citizen’s science programme which Wildlands facilitate.

Field days were full of conversations. Catherine’s eyes were opened to the interconnectivity of systems in our environment. She is grateful to the ecologist for sharing their knowledge.

The learning went beyond the scientist’s content knowledge. She has developed a great respect and appreciation of how scientists work, their dedication and contribution to the wider science community. Their job has many facets, with integrity being a foremost principle.

Catherine is extremely grateful to her hosts at Wildlands Consultancy for their welcoming, inclusive manner and for the diverse range of learning opportunities. She would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Science Teacher Leadership Programme, funded by the New Zealand Government and administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand and thank them for this amazing opportunity.