Kuaka are specialists in field based learning programmes for college students from USA, Singapore, Hong Kong and China. Northern Michigan University (NMU), located in Marquette, Michigan is a four year public comprehensive university. Its fastest growing academic areas are clinical science, biology, and the geographical and environmental sciences. I understand students on this tour came from geographical and environmental sciences.
NMU runs the "Superior Edge" programme, the four edges of which are: citizenship, diversity awareness, leadership and real world application of classroom theory. The university has an active volunteer centre on campus that carries out extensive outreach throughout Michigan's Upper Peninsula region.
I found the NMU students and staff to be:
- genuinely interested in and intrigued by the Lake Okareka Walking Track project
- very keen to get stuck in and help a community group on a real project
- fit and willing workers on a hot Lake Okareka day
- courteous and respectful
- appreciative of the opportunity to meet with local volunteers and learn what the walking track project means for them
- understanding of the relationship between the project, the local and regional walkway network and the wider volcanic landscape and region
- enquiring of the governance, politics and planning behind a project like this
- intrigued by the way the project has been consented and funded.
The students reported that of all the experiences on their study tour, the Lake Okareka Community Walking Track project particularly stood out for the opportunity it offered to interact with New Zealand volunteers on site and on an actual work day.
The Kuaka New Zealand organises college student tours which encompass environmental science, geography, sustainable business, service learning and anthropology.
The Lake Okareka Community Walking Track project has connections with all of these. So it was an excellent port of call for both NMU students and staff. And of course interesting for Lake Okareka Walking Track volunteers to hear something of the Michigan region and landscape, and the significant issues facing the people of the Michigan Upper Peninsula.
Thanks to Hugh Lusk for this contribution to "The Newsletter".