|dc.description.abstract||Ecological degradation threatens the life-giving capacity of Earth. Literature identifies education and collaboration across all sectors of society as being critically important to reversing the trend of degradation. Aligning with these proposed solutions is a 21st Century approach to education, which calls for new partnerships and relationships to be formed between educational organisations and the wider community. Based on these principles, Kids Greening Taupō (KGT) represents an innovative conservation education programme.
This study examined the progression of an 18-month pilot project through which KGT was conceived and implemented in Taupō, a provincial town located in the central North Island of New Zealand. This study provides an example of a process used to develop a conservation education programme through a partnership model between five educational organisations and four community organisations. The purpose of the investigation was to develop an understanding, based on the researcher’s and stakeholders’ perspectives, about the structures formed and processes undertaken to design and implement KGT, as well as the formative outcomes observed through the development of the programme.
An evaluation of the pilot project was conducted using an interpretive study based on an ethnographic approach. Data were collected through participant observation, semi-structured interviews and documentation analysis, and then was thematically analysed. The research process included several factors to enhance the trustworthiness of the findings, including credibility, dependability and confirmability.
The findings of this study identify four stages of KGT programme development through which a number of structures, processes and outcomes evolved. Although an initial strategic planning process established a shared vision among the stakeholders and environmental projects for each participating educational organisation, a lack of consensus about other important strategic components led to some developmental challenges. Additionally, two sets of structures and processes emerged through the analysis of the data that were categorised as being enablers, barriers or a combination of both in relation to planning, implementing and maintaining KGT. The outcomes observed were related predominantly to the themes of educational, ecological, social and professional aspects.
Collectively, the experiences of the KGT pilot in conjunction with educational theory based on a 21st Century approach and environmental and sustainability education has led to the development of a collaborative community education model. This model, together with the findings about the KGT structures and processes, may inform the development of other similar programmes utilising a collaborative community approach. Strategic and operational recommendations are provided about possible ways to modify KGT in order to realise the potential of the programme in the Taupō context.||