Youth Media Team learns the ropes

Youth Media Team learns the ropes

This week a group of keen teens gathered at Aroko salt marsh to learn first-hand about marine biology as well as TV and media production.  An initiative of Muri Environment Care Group (MEC), with support from us at Te Ipukarea Society and the Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR), this is a space for youth to: share their thoughts and raise awareness on current environmental issues; remind us why we love nature and how we can do our part to look after it; and create discussion through content production and media coverage.  

The future belongs to our young people, so we as mana tiaki need to open pathways, tauturu our mapu and encourage their imagination to create.

Young people are very capable, educated and opinionated individuals. They have their own narrative, a language that other youth understand, and have a valuable contribution to make. From what we know of our youth in the Cook Islands, young people’s experiences and ideas are abundant.

We just need to create the platform for their voices to be heard, be there as mentors, give them the tools, create a fun learning environment and let them go for it.  Providing a place for youth to share their perspective in a way that not only positively educates but also uplifts them, helps us all.

That’s why Muri Environment Care Group are creating the “Youth Media Team”.

Researching current topics, attending environmental and marine sector events, shadowing experts and those passionate about the environment out in the field, writing articles, producing videos and photos and sharing their messages across all channels from at school, TV, online, to social media platforms.

And when it comes to amplifying environmental messages and inspiring other youth, nothing beats getting out there and giving it a go – exploring with a curious mind, and then sharing your awesome experience with everyone.

This is exactly what we saw at the Tereora College Year 9 & 10 day last month at the community nursery behind Pa’s Palace and again at this week’s workshop with the lagoon learning experience led by MMR.   Following a presentation on what marine species to expect, the students set about identifying and recording marine invertebrates using transects and datasets.

The information gathered can be used to monitor changes in marine health and possibly be used by traditional leaders in assessing the need for raui.

We had budding marine biologists, presenters, aspiring writers, sports players right through to those keen on robotics, who threw themselves into the experience – walking away with more knowledge, stories to share with their friends and positive attitudes for their futures.

They got a real first hand experience of what, and why MMR do what they do.  We looked at what a healthy ocean looks like, what species they may come across and were taught a method for collecting invertebrate data.  Then it was handed over to them to run the transects, inspect along the 50m line, document and measure all the species they could see.

 “As an aspiring engineer in environmental science, it’s good to know that there are lots of different ways to help the environment which can also be collecting data which I love because I like science and collecting data, and that’s very important because we need to analyse it and have a further understanding of the environment around us so we can help” Maeva Feao

While one team collected data, the other team was engaged by volunteer and skilled media producer Jo Holley who encouraged the youth to cover the day’s workshop like a professional TV production team.  The final product was aired on Cook Islands Television news this week!

This was just a taster for our workshop next week where we will be diving deep into all the ins and outs of TV production, where there’s a role for everyone from script writing, directing, photography through to social media, and then putting the teams out in the field to create their own environmental content across the year, as the official Youth Media Team.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to Jo Holley for teaching us all about the production techniques which I’ll need, and everyone else for their preferred futures in the media studies industry”. Koru McDonald

We want to give young people more tools and life enhancing experiences to go on to be successful adults.  Create an opportunity for them to give back and help in their community.  Responsibility. A place to have loads of fun.  And most importantly enable them to feel valued, empowered, and encourage them that they too have an important voice in their community on all levels from school, to anau, across Rarotonga, as well as internationally.

Allowing them to take the reins and create content that they actually will watch, ensures more youth get involved and are empowered to help with environmental issues.  Not to mention bridges the gap between adults and youth ,so we can understand where they are at, and therefore work together.

“We’ve all had a lot of fun surveying out on the water, it’s was a beautiful day, and I’m really excited to see if they will do it again next holidays and if they run more programs like this” Mila Lyon

Anne Tierney explains “The MEC program aims to acquaint our youth with the research and activities that help remediate the impacts of climate change at Muri, and to grow the ability to communicate their findings to our community. It was very exciting to see our young aspiring scientists and media gurus respond to the passion and professional skills of the MMR staff members Michael, Bermy, Stella and Kirby, and to Jo’s skills in the media field. Thanks also to the staff of Te Ipukarea Society –  Kate, Terena and Itirangi for their input, amazing as always!

So, if you want to come and take the first step towards understanding and appreciating this fascinating world or maybe aspire to study Marine Sciences, Oceanography, or any Environmental studies or perhaps you’d love to explore the world of film and TV, then come along and get involved.

Just give it a go – you never know you might just love it.

As printed in the Cook Islands News 15 January 2022