Annie Lorenzen, our environmental educator

Annie has been working for the Karioi project as an Environmental Educator since 2014. She started off by coordinating the Karioi Kids and later the Karioi Rangers after-school programmes. The after-school program is now in Amber Jones very capable hands while Annie has stepped in to help develop and coordinate our in–school Earthcare programme (now called Maanaki Ao) –an initiative run in partnership with Raglan Area School and Papa Taiao, a national accreditation organisation.

 

What are you from? I was born and bred in Raglan.

 

How did you get involved in the Karioi Project?

I met Kristel at a neighborhood get-together and sometime later we got talking. She invited me to help lead the Karioi kids after-school education programme and I ran that for about four years.

It’s always been part of my vision to utilise the environment of Raglan as a learning place for kids - for both outdoor education and environmental-care. Raglan’s environment lends itself so easy to this because you have so many different elements here (mountains, rivers, coastline).

 

How did you get into this type of work?

I’ve always worked in the outdoors in one way or another. Outdoor adventure tourism, ski-fields,sports science and rehab. And then, I ended up doing an occupational therapy degree. I saw how adventure therapy or outdoor therapy can really help to build confidence and mental health, as well as physical health. I realized that I wanted to work with youth. I didn’t want to work at the bottom of a cliff, but rather to meet kids before they got to that point.  I’ve been able to do that through Karioi Kids, Karioi Rangers and the Earthcare programme.

A lot of these kids already have skills in the outdoors but they don’t get to showcase those in a classroom environment. They can really excel in an outdoor environment. It’s all about self-belief and confidence and being valued.

Outdoor education affords an opportunity to develop leadership skills, confidence, a sense of self-belief, and values about where they come from

 

What keeps you going?

I want to help create an education program that I know will work. Classroom teaching doesn’t work for lots of kids.  In our Earthcare Programme students are connecting with other adults in the community learning skills from them, developing relationships and getting support.

This inter-generational learning is good for a community as a whole too. I think one of the biggest kicks that I get is when I walk down the street and see one of the kids that I’ve had in the programme, and they’ll stop on the road and have a conversation.

Rebecca Towle