Students stand together to care for local beaches
Students participating in the Natural Resources Northern and Yorke Young Environmental Leaders program recently took part in three coastal workshops focussing on beach nesting birds, including the Pied and Sooty Oystercatchers and the threatened Hooded Plover at Moonta, Stansbury and Coobowie.
The workshops provided insight into the pressures on Yorke Peninsula’s shorebirds and the impact of rubbish on beaches, with sessions including marine debris collection and bird identification to help students develop a practical understanding of local coastal management issues.
Natural Resources Northern and Yorke Community Ranger Fabienne Dee said that it was a great opportunity to introduce the students to the notion that the beach is not just for recreation, but that it is a habitat as well.
"These workshops not only give students an opportunity to understand the importance of scientific monitoring processes but also create awareness of how human behaviour can seriously impact a threatened species." Ms Dee says.
The students, from Bute, Wallaroo Mines, Stansbury, Port Vincent, Curramulka, Edithburgh, Warooka, primary schools, as well as Minlaton District, Moonta Area, St Columba’s Memorial and St Mary MacKillop schools said that the day was a great experience, and that they had no idea there were so many different bird species living on our local beaches.
Several students expressed excitement about making bird watching a potential new hobby.
The marine debris activity discussed the types of rubbish that have a negative impact on marine ecosystems including micro plastics, plastic bags and plastic fragments, and demonstrated how marine species can mistake these items for a food source such as fish eggs or squid.
Curramulka Primary class teacher Jenny Hansen said that the YEL day at Stansbury had a big impact on students.
"Students became very aware of the impact on marine habitats through an excellent combination of talks on human impact to birdlife, observing sea birdlife and then collecting debris from the beach," Ms Hansen said.
"The biggest impact however came when students lined up with items they found and then put them in a timeline according to how long they took to break down in the environment. In particular, they were shocked at how long plastic and glass take to break down.
"Back at school they related what they learnt and it was clear they understood the messages and would take personal action to reduce their impact."
Ms Dee said that students are encouraged to put their learning into action and share the information with their peers.
"The students take the messages that they have learnt back to their schools to deliver presentations and produce school newsletter articles in an endeavour to earn class sharing badges as part of the YEL program," Ms Dee said.
Funding is provided by the Australian Government National Landcare Programme.
If you would like to be involved in monitoring Hooded Plovers or are interested in organising a marine debris collection event at your local beach, contact the Northern and Yorke Natural Resources Centre in Clare on 8841 3444 or visit www.landscape.sa.gov.au/northernandyorke for more information.