Ali McDonald shares the highlights of her first month as a DOC Community Ranger

Date:  02 October 2018

Te Rerenga school rat traps.
Some of the wonderful rat-trap designs from the kids at Te Rerenga School – one of the many local area schools taking part in the Predator Free 2050 Pest Police programme.
Image: Ali McDonald | DOC

I've just completed my first month as a Community Ranger and I have to say, after spending the last three years in lecture theatres at university, it's been a refreshing change to be back in the DOC family again.

One of my favourite volunteer/education activities within the region so far would have to be the Pest Police days which take place within various Coromandel schools. This local initiative aims to generate greater awareness of the Predator Free 2050 goal and entails helping students to build and decorate their own rat traps.

The final painting phase is where individual creativity truly flourishes and the various design concepts never fail to impress. From cheerful panoramas, complete with happily foraging kiwis, to threatening ‘rats beware!’ slogans, carefully applied in bold red ink.

Amongst my favourites was a design crafted by a young chap at Te Rerenga School, who painted an American flag along-side the witty catch-phrase “Make Nature Great Again, a sentiment I can get behind.

Weeding on the Taumatawahine trail.
Left: Volunteer Anna Cross, with an impressive length of wild ginger tuber and roots. Right: A tiny spider orchid flower (corybus macranthus) found growing in the gravel along the edge of the Taumatawahine trail.
Images: Ali McDonald | DOC

Another highlight for me this month was a walk and weed day, held along the Taumatawahine Track. This short trail is a real gem as it offers walkers a chance to get their nature fix, while being located conveniently close to the heart of Coromandel town.

DOC volunteer prepping building materials for Conservation week.
Regular DOC volunteer, Steve Mannington, helping to prep building materials for Conservation Week themed events.
Image: Ali McDonald | DOC

While only one volunteer was able to join me on this outing, we had a thoroughly satisfying day waging war against the climbing asparagus and dealing to the wild ginger. Along the way we made some interesting discoveries, which included a tiny species of native spider orchid and even a bit of archaeology in the undergrowth.

Alongside the regular volunteer activities, September was peppered with a variety of Conservation Week themed events – these ranged from building weta motels for the back yard to removing ice plant from our coastal dunes.

Overall, I was impressed with the sheer enthusiasm shown by locals and visitors alike. A big shout out to all the volunteers who helped us prepare at our last workshop day – we couldn’t have done it all without you!

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