by Alexa Kruse, Student Life Coordinator on 29th November, 2018
Hello again! Here’s what we’ve yet to cover in order to catch you up…
- 1 week of Environmental Literature courses
- 1 week of God and Nature courses
- 1 week-long field trip to the West Coast
- 2 weeks of Marine Ecology
Alright, here we go!
We jumped right in to Environmental Literature II with Loren and Mary-Ruth Wilkinson when we got back from break (mid-October). The Wilkinson’s had a different flair from Dr. Amy Wicks, so the students covered different readings and dug into environmental literature in a new and different way. During the week Kyle got the plants into the ground at our garden plot at the Marae so the roots would have more space to spread out. At the end of the week we celebrated Nate’s (belated) birthday, which happened during the break. The celebrations included a variety of “field day” games, such as “run to the chair and pop the balloon,” “move an Oreo from your forehead into your mouth without using your hands,” and “potato sack races.” The students (and staff) had a lot of fun competing against each other and celebrated afterward with mixed berry pie and ice cream.
Then there was a week of God and Nature II. Again, the Wilkinsons provided a different perspective and things to ponder than Dr. Andrew Shepherd. Their class also connected back to both of the environmental literature courses—CCSP is all for integrative learning. Near the end of the week, students shared a gift with the class. Gifts ranged from pieces of art and song, to shared meals, to creating music together. Students were able to showcase their creativity and connect what they learned in their course to God and his creation. This week we also did a bit of birding to prepare the students for terrestrial ecology. The female students also dressed up as the male students for Halloween, causing fits of giggles throughout class.
Before we knew it, the West Coast field trip and Terrestrial Ecology with Dr. Aaron Sullivan were upon us and we left the sunny east coast for the drizzly west. On the 4th of November we set out west and stopped at Castle Rock, and nice stretch away from the vans and quite the playground. After many, “Are we there yet’s?” and a few bathroom breaks, we made it to Arthur’s Pass where we were greeted by Kea. We spent the late afternoon at Bealey track identifying plants and hiking through a bog. Everyone had the option of hiking up to Devil’s Punchbowl, too, and a couple of our students even got in to the frigid waters. In the evening we celebrated my birthday with spaghetti (my favourite meal), and had a time of prayer and worship in the chapel.
The next day students learned about the geology of Zealandia, went on the Dobson Valley walk and identified a myriad of alpine vegetation, and had a birding stop in Hokitika before finishing our drive for the day in Bruce Bay. We were welcomed to the Marae with a Powhiri and had a lecture in the evening. Tuesday morning we headed to Monroe Beach where we saw a Fjordland crested penguin and were nibbled on by the sand flies. We took our time walking on the way back and enjoyed the scenery and all of the new vegetation. Students were starting to call out the names of plants they recognised, and we were all pretty pumped to have so much field time. Sunshine, Aaron’s wife, was a fantastic addition to the crew—just as excited as the students were to learn. The afternoon was rounded out with a walk at Lake Matheson and a lecture in the evening.
On Wednesday we packed up and headed for the West Coast Wildlife Centre at Franz Josef where students were able to observe juvenile Rowi Kiwi in a nocturnal room—the rarest kiwi with a current population of only about 350 individuals. We also visited Franz Josef glacier where we could witness succession with our own eyes, as well has how the glacier had receded throughout the years. The afternoon was spent traveling to Punakaiki (pancake rocks) and Te Nikau Logde, which would be our home base for three nights. Thursday morning brought on another informative lecture, then a walk on Truman Track. We had relatively good luck with the rain up until this point, but then the “WEsT coast” showed her true nature. We even learned that one of the bridges was out, stranding some people in Arthur’s Pass. Thankfully, we were long gone from there! Students reviewed for their field exam (identifying plants, birds, and ecological processes we had witnessed) throughout the afternoon, and the written exam in the evening. Everyone enjoyed the relaxed space at Nikau Lodge and all of the students went tidepooling at the beach in the pouring rain, a really cool experience!
Friday morning we headed out to the Pororari River and the students had their field exam. I think they were a little disappointed that they couldn’t shout out the names of the plants they recognized! After the exam we headed to Punakaiki, or pancake rocks. As you can imagine, Punakaiki was named for the impressive, old, flat columns of rock gracing the ocean shore. In the evening, students completed their written exam and afterward visited a glow worm cave. It was such an moving experience to sing in the dark! Saturday brought us back home to Kaikoura and in the evening we watched An Unnatural History of the Kakapo, which was pretty funny and informative.
On Sunday we celebrated Courtnay’s Ordination as a Deacon of the Anglican Church! I am so glad we all got to share that special time with her.
The next day we plunged straight into Marine Ecology with Dr. Jody Weir. The next two weeks were absolutely chockers with lectures, field trips, and research. After the whirlwind, when asked, students said their favourite parts of marine ecology were…
- Getting to do actual research with Jody on Hector’s dolphins
- Completing research projects of their own with real data
- Swimming with Dusky dolphins on Dolphin Encounter
- Visiting the Hutton’s Shearwater colony on the peninsula
- Visiting the penguin colony in South Bay
other amazing field-trips included…
- Tidepooling and watching fur seals at the peninsula
- Watching Hector’s dolphins from the shore near Hapuku river
- Visiting Fyffe House and learning about Kaikoura’s whaling history
During the first week of marine ecology, the students and I also traveled to Blenheim to see the premiere of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Gotta keep the Harry Potter fans happy!
Now, we’re into Integration Week. This week is all about students reflecting on their time at CCSP. We’ve had a lot of good group discussions about what is means to care for creation, live in a community, and what changes students want to make in their lives moving forward. We’ve also watched documentaries (Cowspiracy, Gasland II, and Thin Ice to name a few), and learned “What’s Next” from students—where they research a nonprofit organisation that they might give a season of their lives to in the future. At the end of this week students will complete a paper that weaves together everything they’ve learned this semester. We’re getting close to the end, and I think we’re all a little sad about it.
That’s the beauty of community at CCSP, though. We get to live, work, and learn together, and in the process form wonderful relationships—with people who, at the end of it, are hard to say, “goodbye,” to.