Landcare Research is more than simply an ecological or scientific organization. Their goal is "to both protect and enhance the land environment and grow the country’s prosperity." They have a Maori elder and one of their lead researchers greeted us with a Maori song. This is a whole different way of looking at science. Much of what they do functionally, is protect NZ from invasives. Quarantined plants are kept for up to a year and tested regularly for fungi or parasites that could damage local flora; insects taken from imported fruits or vegetables are evaluated, as are oddities that locals find in their gardens. They also develop sustainable methods for gardening, farming, and forestry. And they maintain a huge collection of bugs.
We saw a lot of bugs. And a few non bugs, too. Spiders, mites, flies.
There was also a bit more time to walk around on one's (my) own, which is becoming increasingly important. I am not that good at being a part of the group. Especially when the group thinks it's the height of entertainment to make fun of everything and attempt to outdo one another's stupidity. One COLLEGE student even stated during the welcoming ceremony that "his river" was the Rio Grande--important to him because it flows through the Grand Canyon. Another claimed that our Congolese colleague "obviously" didn't need sunscreen (because he can't get a sunburn, obvs). Alone time, it's what's for dinner.