Eco-Quest New Zealand

During my time studying abroad last semester, I had the honor to take part in a semester-long program at the Eco-Quest education center in Whakatiwai New Zealand. At Eco-Quest we were focused on learning about New Zealand Ecology and Sustainability with a hands-on approach. While at Eco-Quest I had the opportunity to receive 3 out of the 5 sustainability electives needed for the UNH Sustainability dual Major. At Eco-Quest I had the best hands-on learning experience I could have, and possibly UNH's best program for off-campus hands-on learning. I chose the program because I wanted an experience like no other where I could take my learning into the field and demonstrated my skills with real-life use cases.


At Eco-Quest I did a directed research project on New Zealand's endangered native Hochstetter's frog. This project was conducted over a time span of a month, and I had written a scientific report based on the evidence we found out in the field. My team and I were evaluating how an intense pest control area, can have an impact on the population, and abundance of this frog species. We researched and conducted transects to find key data representing why there may be changes in frog populations from inside a controlled pest area. Comparing it to an area with little to no pest control.  Our group found a total of 91 Hochstetter's frogs during our 8 days out in the field. Our research helps indicate if pest control areas can help with frog abundance because frog species are an important bioindication. This work will help the Department of Conservation, and scientists in New Zealand; scientists from around the world will use this data to help Hochstetter's frog populations and other frog populations across the globe.


While on the program there was a moment that changed my perspective of sustainability. Coming back to the adventure I had with Professor Chris and field leader Ramone has helped me dive deeper into this idea. Knowledge from other humans is so important and can change one's perspective on many different elements of the world. Chris had talked about a moth we saw that lived in a tree for many years of its life. After this moth lives there it gives its first home to a beetle. The first people to find it, though they lived there from the beginning. This piece of information got me to think about how there are so many different elements and layers to the world that are constantly surrounding us. I believe taking time to reflect and acknowledge these elements is very important. For me this was kind of a wake-up call, to stop and think more often about our impact. Not to rush through life or any simple task you are involved in.  While thinking about ecology and how we can make the world a cleaner and safer place, I believe this idea grows from within. People have done the easy things in life to better themselves and to make more money but are realizing that’s not the best answer. This is because your actions can impact so many other elements of life and ecology that seem forgotten or unknown during that initial decision. Thinking more about your needs and actions while taking the time to learn how you can improve the big picture is important.  Considering others as you move forward while balancing the impact of the choices you make; will lead to more concern over our ecology and force decisions that are likely to help improve sustainability problems.