The 21 year-old grew up on a small dairy grazing block on the edge of Mt Pirongia, Waikato, and is in the third year of a Bachelor of Science degree with a Conservation and Ecology major at Lincoln University.
He was recently awarded a Southern Environmental Trust Scholarship, given to students undertaking studies which relate to environmental management and/or planning.
James, who was president of the Lincoln Environment Organisation in 2016, said his environmental interests are broad.
“My knowledge, experience and interests are heavily based around conservation. On my semester break I volunteered on a kokako translocation from Pureora Forest Park to Pirongia Forest Park.
“Recently, I coordinated a stoat trapping trip, and was also involved in great spotted kiwi monitoring and transmitter removal, in the Nina Valley of the Lewis Pass.
“I am currently a part of the DOC Growing Voices team, where we are planning some conservation based events for youth in Canterbury, following on from our youth submission on the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park Management Plan late last year,” he said.
His environmental activities have extended internationally.
“Recently, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to visit Tasmania through the Hamish Saunders Trust, where I was a part of a team of experts setting out to discover what was on the Hunter Island group on the NW coast of Tasmania.
“Mammal and bird specialists, archaeologists and geomorphologists were a part of the group, and a number of significant discoveries were made, such as the presence of stripped skinks and rabbits on the island, and the finding of a number of additional Aboriginal middens not previously recorded.”
James has worked as a park ranger for the Auckland Council, and for an ecological consultancy company over recent summers.
He said lately his interests have expanded into other areas, such as environmental law, policy and economics.
“When I finish my undergraduate degree, I hope to carry out a postgraduate qualification in environmental management, and potentially travel overseas for further study, or work, in management or policy.
“Eventually, I hope to head into a management role with the Department of Conservation to utilise the environmental law and policy I have studied and make a significant difference to conservation, which I value so highly.”
The Southern Environmental Trust is run by the Rotary Club of Christchurch South on behalf of the local Rotary District. The Trust holds annual forums to promote public awareness and discussion regarding environmental matters and it also supports study and research through the awarding of this scholarship.
Caption; James is shown receiving the award from the Southern Environmental Trust‘s Alan McKinnon.