Today in History

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‘Ageing’ boards revamped by under 25s in win-win for groups

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Some of the young people and representatives from boards who have signed up to the scheme this year.

Recruiting a teenager onto its “relatively middle-class, ageing” board for a year turned out to be a good decision all round for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Nelson-Tasman.

The not-for-profit youth mentoring organisation now communicated through “more appropriate technology”, thanks to the high school student’s insights, former board chair Ross Newman said.

“She provided for us that youth perspective, by being really forthright and telling us we needed to know.

“And we felt over that 12 months she picked up quite a number of governances skills and bits and pieces she could carry forwards, to use later in life.”


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Supplied/Stuff Ambassador for Big Brothers Big Sisters Nelson-Tasman, Ross Newman, talks to those in attendance.

Two years on, a group of young people and boards from across the region were getting the same opportunity.

A scheme initiated by Newman – matching 16 to 25-year-olds with boards for a year – started in earnest this month, after being scuppered by Covid-19 last year.

Thirteen young people had been assigned to boards of organisations including charitable trust Sport Tasman, business promotions group Richmond Unlimited, and charity YMCA Nelson.

Fifteen places were available, with the Nelson City Council funding 10 places this year, and Tasman District Council funding five as a trial, said Newman, ambassador for Big Brothers Big Sisters Nelson-Tasman.

Tapawera Connects, a community organisation set up after COVID-19 lockdown to improve community connections in the rural community west of Nelson, was among those to join the initiative.

Supplied/Stuff The scheme, started by Newman, right, matches 16 to 25-year-olds with boards for a year

Board member Kate Baigent said workshops to work out community needs had identified a gap in things for young people in the community to do.

Holly Smiler, a 25-year-old student at NMIT, grew up in Tapawera, and hoped her place on the board would help change that.

“I’m currently working on a youth programme for the older youth.

“And I would quite like to run a school holiday programme out there, for the younger ones because I know there’s a lot of working parents out there.”

Three young people managed to complete the fledgling programme last year with the Cancer Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters and specialist supported employment agency, Employable, despite setbacks from Covid-19.

All had stayed on at the boards.

Supplied/Stuff Big Brothers Big Sisters Nelson-Tasman board member Campbell Rollo.

One of them, Big Brothers Big Sisters Nelson-Tasman board member 23-year-old Campbell Rollo, said he had always had an interest in how governance worked at community level.

“Nelson’s a place where everyone has connections in the community,” said Rollo, also a member of the Hockey Nelson board.

“Boards aren’t those daunting places where they are long, boring meetings.

“A board meeting that I go to traditionally goes for an hour, hour-and-a-half at the most, monthly. They’re short and sharp.

“Having the plans in place so you’re showing up a meeting knowing what’s going on, is a big help.”

  • Young people and organisations wanting more information about the initiative can contact

Great Burn Conservation Alliance seeks volunteers

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With the snow now gone in the high country, workers are getting the trails ready for hikers.

The U.S. Forest Service is clearing them and the campgrounds are being spruced up as this summer could outpace last summer for eco-tourism since so many visitors discovered Mineral County during the pandemic.

The Great Burn Conservation Alliance, formerly known as the Great Burn Study Group, has initiated a program that will get locals out hiking as well as providing customer service for our tourists.

The ‘Trail Ambassador’ program is being conducted with collaboration between the Forest Service and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks as all three entities joined forces to make this work.

Because this is new and depends on volunteers to make it successful, they are starting with the trailhead at Heart Lake. This area in the Great Burn Proposed Wilderness is not only beautiful, but is easily accessible, making it a perfect destination for families or beginner hikers and backpackers.

A couple of miles into the lake to picnic, fish, explore, read, rest and appreciate the surroundings has made this destination, quite possibly, the most popular hike in Mineral County.

The Heart Lake area is also home to a native mountain goat herd. Goats are naturally curious and love salt, so they become habituated to humans when they are allowed to lick sweaty backpacks or eat human food.

Like bears, this behavior over time can create dangerous situations for the goats, Fido and hikers and campers. Recently, the Heart Lake goats have been getting a little too close to visitors in camp.

Injuries or accidents between goats and humans can lead to trails being shut down or the removal of goats.

This is where the Trail Ambassadors come in. Ambassadors will serve as a friendly, informative presence in the Heart, Pearl, and Dalton Lake areas.

Because this area has so many new outdoor enthusiasts to the area and new to camping, ambassadors will provide useful information about wildlife (especially goats), camping at Heart Lake, trail access, safety and leave-no-trace practices to visitors in the area.

“Our goal with the Trail Ambassador program is to put folks on the ground during busy summer weekends to answer any questions folks may have about the area, educate them on how to deal with goats or any other wildlife in camp, and perform light campsite maintenance. The end goal of the program is to keep the goats wild, Heart Lake pristine, and campers happy and safe,” said Hayley Newman, Great Burn Stewardship and Outreach Director.

This is a great way to get out for a hike while simultaneously performing an important conservation service. Easy training is at their website; and Newman is delighted to visit with you at 406-546-2329 or