Thursday, 15th September 2016

NAAEE & The Smithsonian Institute

DATE:Thursday 15 September, 2016
LOCATION:NAAEE, National Air & Space Museum and the NZ Embassy, Washington DC

Day two in Washington DC saw our Kiwi Delegates meeting with the NAAEE (North American Association for Environmental Education) to hear about the environmental programs they run, and to compare and discuss with similar programmes we have here in have New Zealand, in particular, the work Sir Peter Blake Trust undertakes with young leaders through its various programmes.

We were interested to hear about their 30 under 30 program, which helps fund 30 environmental leaders under the age of 30 to carry out environmental projects and initiatives in their communities. This method of environmental education and awareness through funding differs from my experiences with The Sir Peter Blake Trust which promotes environmental awareness and education through hands-on activities and experiences and aims to develop a love and appreciation of the natural environment in young people, as well as giving them the skills to take environmental action.This meeting also helped me to realise the power of Sir Peter’s legacy for New Zealand to galvanise young people and their connection to the Trust.

Many people in our country experienced Sir Peter’s achievements -including winning the America's Cup and Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, as well as Blake Expeditions - however young New Zealanders like myself were either not born at this stage, or too young to remember it. As a result, our knowledge of Sir Peter comes from reading about him and from hearing from others who knew him. Despite this his legacy lives on in the minds of many New Zealanders and I believe that this connection makes it easier for New Zealanders to relate to and support the trust and the call to action for environmental activities. We have a ‘reason’ to get involved and stay connected. Without a legacy and national icon it must make it harder to engage people in the environmental cause.

We then took advantage of a couple of free hours to visit the National Air and Space Museum, which is part of the Smithsonian Institute. I had always thought of the Smithsonian as one large complex, however it actually consists of numerous different museums, each housing a different theme. While we only had a brief amount of time to spend at the Air Space Museum, it was a very cool place to visit.National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institute.Pauline and I then spent the afternoon/evening at the New Zealand Embassy attending an event on the Kermadec Islands protected area and a Pacific nations event. Amazing to be on this side of the world and have all our Pacific neighbours meeting around shared business and environmental issues.
Meanwhile, Shelley Campbell (CEO of the Sir Peter Blake Trust) headed over to the opening of the Our Oceans conference dinner hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry and was lucky enough to hear from him, former first lady Laura Bush and to spend time with Ocean greats like Slyvia Earle and William Ailaa from the Hawaiian Islands. New Zealand is well represented over here with the Hon. Minister Maggie Barry, Blake Leader Professor Gary Wilson and our own Blake Medallist Sir Rob Fenwick. Looking forward to day one of the conference tomorrow and getting ready to deliver our own ocean pledges.


MITCHELL CHANDLER