Source: Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology
Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology was well represented at the recent Biosecurity New Zealand Forum.
Three Environmental Management students, Anita Lewis, Ashlei McMahon, and Tasja Cranswick, received studentships to attend the forum, which explored the many approaches and motivations to biosecurity and drew on experiences and lessons from within and outside the biosecurity system.
The two-day forum was highly regarded by the students, who complete a mandatory course in biosecurity as part of their Diploma in Environmental Management.
Tasja, who recently completed her diploma, is aiming for a career in biosecurity and appreciated the opportunity to be part of a discussion that’s close to home.
“Biosecurity is at the frontline in protecting our environment, our native species, and our industries. The Forum really highlighted everyone’s passion towards a common goal and it was great to see how biosecurity is being ingrained into all sectors across New Zealand,” Tasja says.
With New Zealand’s future generation in mind, this year’s Forum was the first time that studentships were awarded. The Studentships were opened to a range of tertiary students throughout the North Island, particularly those studying in the fields of biodiversity, primary production, conservation, economics and biosecurity itself.
Head of Biosecurity New Zealand Roger Smith was very keen to have students with a passion for biosecurity attend.
“Our country’s biosecurity lies in the hands of our future planners, policy-makers, scientists, and educators of tomorrow. We need to get students in the room with industry leaders – collaboration at all levels plays an integral part in ensuring our biosecurity system remains world-leading,” Roger says.
Key speakers at the Forum included biosecurity leaders from across New Zealand and across the Tasman.
But, it was the Ministry for Primary Industries’ speaker Geoff Gwyn, Director Mycoplasma bovis response, who the students were drawn to because of the empathy and compassion he showed towards the tough job of eradicating Mycoplasma bovis.
“I was inspired by Geoff’s presentation. He’s such a genuine person and it was really interesting to hear about the challenges and approaches around the eradication of a disease,” Anita says.
International speakers like Andrew Robinson, who is a developer and chief executive of Questa Game, Australia, were also a draw-card for the students. Andrew showcased his app that takes players outdoors where they can compete to become environmental scientists.
“Andrew Robinson truly impressed me with his approach to saving the planet with a gaming app. I’m passionate about citizen science – his approach is brilliant,” Anita says.
Anita, Ashlei, and Tasja really enjoyed their time at the Forum and felt the opportunity to meet industry leaders and be part of the important discussions around the future of New Zealand’s biosecurity was extremely valuable.
“Biosecurity plays a major role in the environmental sector. Most people have no idea what is involved and assume that it begins and ends at the airport (customs). But it’s far more integrated than that and our everyday lives are affected either positively or negatively from the outcomes of biosecurity,” Ashlei says.