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Waikato students head for national forum

Three young Waikato students head for Wellington next week to attend a National Environmental Youth Forum.

Haley Mankelow, 17, of Taupo, Holly Dove, 15, of Waihi and Kent Michelson, 17, a St Paul’s Collegiate student from Ohinewai have been chosen by Environment Waikato to attend the forum, established by Environment Minister Marian Hobbs in June to mark World Environment Day. It is open to young people between 15 and 18, with three representatives invited from each of the 16 regions in New Zealand.

The forum runs from September 24-27 with travel, food and accommodation paid for the three young delegates. Environment Waikato’s Schools Programme Co-ordinator Dean King will also be attending.

The delegates each make 5-10 minute speech on Regional issues and listen to presentations on environmental issues. They will spend the rest of the Forum working in project groups working on coastal and waste issues.

Marian Hobbs said the young people selected for the Forum needed “a strong understanding of the issues facing this country, and the energy, enthusiasm and commitment to tackle these issues, at a community, regional and national level.”

She said young people could make a real difference to the environment and a formally structured national forum for young New Zealanders with an interest in the environment could have a real impact.

Each delegate had to write an application outlining why they should be considered, including how their attendance at the National Youth Environment Forum would benefit their school, organisation and community, what specific regional issues they intended to communicate, what they intended to achieve and how they had contributed to environmental issues in the past.

Holly Dove of Waihi received a Young Kauri Award last year from the NZ Herald for her work with the environment. She started her own environmental group when she was eight called Fighters for the Earth.

She is involved in looking after dotterels in Opoutere, Forest and Bird Society initiatives, tree planting, supporting a GE free New Zealand and supporting initiatives to prevent mining in her area.

Haley Mankelow, a seventh former at Taupo-Nui-a-Tia College, is on the executive of her school’s environment group and helped start a recycling centre, which has recycled 800 kg of paper. She has worked with the Tongariro National Park helping DoC set pest traps and record catches. Her group has also met with Taupo District Council and Environment Waikato to discuss their community’s environmental issues.

Kent Mickelson, a St Paul’s student, is a representative for his school’s Young Leaders Forum and has been involved in pest control in his local area focusing on possum, koi carp, rabbits and weed control. He is also a keen hunter and involved in tree planting.

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