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Published: 2002-01-14 00:00:00

More than 260 educators gather in Hamilton later this week for an inaugural environmental education conference at Waikato University.

The three-day conference, the first organised by the New Zealand Association For Environmental Education, has attracted interest from teachers, community educators and many others involved in environmental education from throughout New Zealand.

Conference convenor, Environment Waikato Environmental Education Programme Manager Judy van Roosem, said the conference was the first opportunity people working in environmental education in New Zealand had had to get together and share their experiences.

“The program has attracted all sorts of people -- those working in schools, the community, local government, business, universities, rural, urban and coastal communities. We were expecting about 120 people and we now have 260 delegates."

Three international speakers will be attending. They include the creative director of Australia's largest media production network Minds At Work, Jason Clarke. Mr Clark has created educational shows and exhibitions for SeaWorld, World Expo, the Christchurch Antarctic Museum and the Melbourne Aquarium.

He will be speaking on whether environmental education can ever be as powerful as mass marketing.

Canadian Darlene Clover is assistant Professor in the School Of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. She organised the International Journey for Environmental Education during the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and specialises in environmental education for adults.

Australian Syd Smith is chief education officer New South Wales Department of Education and Training. He is responsible for implementing environmental education in New South Wales schools and co-ordinates the State’s 23 environmental education and zoo education centres.

Two top New Zealand speakers include Senior Lecturer in Outdoor And Environmental Education at Christchurch’s College of Education, Barry Law, who has represented New Zealand on a number of UNESCO seminars and projects - and Maiki Marks from the Auckland College of Education who facilitates environmental education through wananga and hui.

The delegates will be able to attend a variety of workshops on such topics as designing school programmes, marine studies, water education, waste and energy education, climate change and community action.

Judy van Rossem said the conference will celebrate an increasing commitment to environmental education in New Zealand in the form of new ideas, schools, programs, methods, policies and strategies.

It hoped to encourage the recognition of the importance of environmental education for a sustainable society in New Zealand.

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