Young leaders empowered to effect environmental change

News article |

Students participating in the Young Environmental Leaders (YEL) program on Yorke Peninsula recently attended the second forum for 2018.

Natural Resources Northern and Yorke Landscapes Ranger Fabienne Dee said that as part of the program, young leaders from participating schools – Bute, Curramulka, Warooka, Stansbury, Kadina Memorial, St Columba’s Memorial, St Mary MacKillop, Yorketown Area, Minlaton District and Harvest Christian College – are spending the year exploring nature and local spaces, and the link between human behaviour and the impact it can have on the environment.

“Through outdoor learning experiences and immersive hands-on activities featuring animals and nature, students participating in the YEL Program feel inspired to take action to protect their local environment,” Ms Dee said.

“At a recent workshop hosted by Curramulka Primary School, YEL participants enjoyed a presentation about the school’s involvement in the rehabilitation of the Curramulka Parklands over the past 12 years, and a tour of the Parklands conducted by YEL Leaders William and Indiana, followed by a tree planting activity.

“When students understand the importance of habitat in the conservation of a threatened species they find different meaning in activities such as tree planting.”

Students have also spent time planning their school-based environmental sustainability projects.

Kadina Memorial School teacher Hannah Dayman said both the students and teaching staff had reaped the benefits of the environmental education workshops.

“We had previously discussed developing a school-based environmental sustainability project, but we didn’t have the knowledge, skills or resources to do so. The YEL program is supporting and empowering us to undertake a range of projects that will create change within our school and our community,” Ms Dayman said.

“Our group of students will be exploring recycling options for our school and how to create more awareness in our community of what can and can’t be recycled.

“The students have suggested that we also have 10c recycle bins, donating the money collected to charities or further projects such as animal rescue, re-wilding, habitat restoration, tree planting, marine debris removal and reducing waste. They also wanted to look at using food wastage bins and composting.”

Harvest Christian College teacher Ms Blackwell said her involvement in the program had inspired her to look at learning differently.

“We hear lots of talk about collaborative learning and real life connectedness to skills but rarely do you see results on the same day,” Ms Blackwell said.

“Seeing the students interact with others and discuss options for problem solving has inspired me to take some of what I've seen during the sessions back to school to implement in my teaching.

“For some of my students, the idea that their small contribution might actually make a difference has impacted how they approach their projects, each other and their learning at school, reminding me how important it is for them to understand the 'why' behind their learning, not just the 'content'.”

Later this year students will participate in two more workshops, were they will complete their school-based projects and present them to their peers in a ‘Kids Teaching Kids’ session.

Funding and support for the Young Environmental Leaders program is provided by the Northern and Yorke Natural Resources Management Board through funding from the National Landcare Programme.

For more information about environmental education or resources to support nature-based education, click here or contact the Natural Resources Centre in Clare on 8841 3444.

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