St Mary’s Catholic School – Leon Volschenk
2016 | Planning and implementation of ecological restoration
Region: Bay of Plenty
Science is a focus for St Mary’s Catholic School during 2016. By having a participant teacher on the Science Teaching Leadership Programme (STLP), it will assist to improve the quality of their science teaching. In particular, the participating teacher will be in the position of being able to assist other staff in how science should be taught, provide teacher knowledge of the process, improve the use of resources, instil teacher confidence, and strengthen relationships with outside organisations. Most importantly, the school wants its students to benefit by improving their engagement and creativity and developing their capabilities by engaging with the practices of science.
Leon is the present deputy principal attached to St Mary’s School in Rotorua. He has always had a passion for science, especially in the field of ecology. Leon has been very determined that we need to protect our natural environment for future generations.
Over the past six months, Leon was most fortunate to be given the opportunity to work alongside his host, Wildland Consultants Ltd. They provide high quality and cost-effective ecological information, advice, and technical services to enable clients to achieve sustainable management and enhancement of indigenous biodiversity, ecosystems, and resources.
By working alongside scientists, Leon got a better understanding of the fundamental importance of maintaining and enhancing existing indigenous ecosystems and habitats. He was involved in a number of diverse projects such as assessment of land use/ecological effects, survey and monitoring of biodiversity, rehabilitation and restoration of degraded sites, ecological research of fauna and vegetation, and project management.
Leon has gained invaluable experience in the process of engaging with science in a variety of settings. It allowed him to make links between teaching science and how the nature of science works in the real world.
He now has a far better understanding of how scientists conduct research and investigations, how they question the evidence gathered, have their findings critiqued and how they finally present their results. What Leon found most useful was to observe the cyclic approach during scientific investigations. He has also developed leadership skills to enhance the teaching of science within his own school.
One of the most important ‘discoveries’ for Leon while being with his host has been the realization of the extent to which various bodies go to preserve the natural environment. He was amazed at the commitment there is to the protection and enhancement of ecosystems.
Finally, Leon now has a far better understanding of the enhancement of indigenous biodiversity, the recognition of the importance in developing solutions to maintain healthy ecosystems for future generations. He has experienced the issues of values, attitudes, economics and politics which often operate between science and society.
Leon would like to thank his host Wildlands, who generously shared their valuable time, knowledge and expertise with him. He would also like to thank the Science Teacher Leadership Programme funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment and administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand.