The world needs creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act. We know that youth may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. The time is now to let them share their dreams and design the future they want to see.
Cathy McGowan AO entered federal parliament on the urgings of young people from her Victorian electorate of Indi, and in doing so brokered a new way of community politics. Her memoirs were recently published in Cathy Goes to Canberra, an inspiring tale of the power of grass-roots activism.
In 2008 Cathy attended Kevin Rudd’s 2020 Summit, where four keynote speakers, under 25 years of age, talked about their vision for Australia.
“I was stunned by their ability, by their level of articulation, by their creativity, by their vision for Australia and the thought that they’d given to their presentations. My biggest take away from that summit was that older people, such as myself and most of the attendees, in fact needed to pay attention to young people in our community. They knew things that we baby boomers did not. They certainly were better educated and had new approaches that could find the answers to the problems we were facing….. I made a firm commitment to pay attention and get to know the young people, not only in my life, but in my work,” Cathy says in her book.
In keeping with her commitment to young people as Australia’s future Cathy jumped at the chance to share her wisdom with our Young Farming Champions. She spoke openly to the cohort via a zoom conference, hosted by Lynne Strong in conjunction with a Youth Voices Leadership Team panel of Dione Howard, Dr Jo Newton OAM and Tayla Field.
Cathy covered many aspects of the leadership pathway such as creating time budgets, life-long learning, the importance of networking, the power of finding, and supporting, your tribe and of having confidence in the skill set you have already developed. If these things sound familiar it is because Cathy’s wisdom mirrors closely the visions and ideals of Picture You in Agriculture.
Cathy has a passion to liberate people to be leaders and empower them to grow in confidence. She believes we have enough leadership training programs in agriculture and what we now need is more people “doing” leadership. And she believes the YFC have the skills and salutes them for Turning Up, Speaking Up and Stepping Up to develop their courage muscle by practicing the knowledge and skills they learn in training by being the face of our in-school programs The Archibull Prize ( secondary schools) and Kreative Koalas ( primary schools )” she says.
The workshop was well received by the audience:
“I appreciate Cathy’s easy going, positive nature and her efforts to continually develop her skills. I enjoyed learning it’s okay not to know the exact right path to take, to step up to challenges, build resilience and have a go.” Steph Tabone
“Time budgeting is such an effective tool, particularly making time for exercise and other important tasks that may not be labelled as “work” but are essential in creating a successful, balanced life.” Elizabeth Argue
“I appreciate that Cathy has put herself out there to achieve all that she has so far, and from the workshop I realise we need to do the work and find a team to do the work with.” Dione Howard
“I appreciate the openness with which Cathy has shared her story so that we can all learn from her experience. I found Cathy sharing her story of leadership versus stepping up as a visible leader particularly helpful.” Jo Newton
The Zoom recording of Cathy’s three tips for being an effective leaders can be found here
The zoom recording of the panel session will be loaded here shortly. Watch this space
If you are a Young Farming Champion (YFC) you already see yourself as an emerging leader for agriculture. If you also envision your future includes managerial positions, board appointments and CEO roles then the Youth Voices Leadership Team (YVLT) is the perfect training ground.
The YVLT is a group of committed YFC alumni who have stepped up to take responsibility for, and share ownership of, a vision to enable and empower young leaders in agriculture. The YVLT provides a youth perspective to Picture You in Agriculture program development and management decisions, representing a powerful personal and professional development path, giving participants the skills and daily habits needed to take on community and business leadership roles in the future.
The current team members are Emma Ayliffe (chair), Dione Howard (vice-chair), Marlee Langfield (social media coordinator), Meg Rice (Innovation Hub representative), Jo Newton (returning officer), Anika Molesworth (partnerships ambassador) and Jess Fearnley ( minute secretary and intern). In addition the Innovation Hub, a sub-committee tasked with exploring new ideas for real-world projects, is ably staffed by Katherine Bain, Samantha Wan, Tayla Field and Chloe Dutschke.
In a recent evaluation report by Dr Nicole McDonald several themes were identified as motivating factors for joining the YVLT:
intrinsic rewards for doing meaningful work for the future of agriculture,
continuing to develop skills and abilities that would help them be leaders,
being a part of a network of capable people that provide personal and professional support,
giving back to a program that had given them a launch pad towards other opportunities and industry wide recognition.
Nicole’s interviews with team members elicited responses including:
“[The YVLT provides] the opportunity to upskill around committees; getting your head around corporate governance, running subcommittees, supporting a chair, setting agendas, and running meetings. All of this puts me in better stead to manage my own business. There are also a lot of non-tangible skills; for example it’s forced me to set deadlines and expectations for myself, for the people trying to contact me and for my team. I’ve been upskilled in social media and communication skills particularly around formalising of emails and proposals and pitching for funding. Those skills are invaluable.”
“It’s more than a committee it’s a learning opportunity. In a short amount of time I’ve already taken on feedback and learnt more than I anticipated; I’ve learnt skills that I didn’t even think of when I signed up for the Youth Voices Leadership Team.”
“The professionalism is really of a high standard on the YVLT, as well as the consideration of personal and professional outcomes; not only looking at what the organisation is looking to achieve, but also what everybody personally is looking to achieve. Looking at what drives each individual person to get the best outcome has been really impressive and something I haven’t seen in other committees.”
The YVLT is a valuable opportunity for YFC alumni to learn and practice professional and corporate skills in a safe environment. These skills include:
leading innovative and forward-thinking purpose-driven teams,
sitting on effective boards and committees
creating and developing and growing start-ups
program design and delivery
messaging and communications
building partnerships for collective action for collective impact,
Problem solving and strategic thinking
negotiation and conflict skills
become a better listener, build empathy and rapport and use your influence to inspire behaviour change for the greater good
Or, as one of our YVLT so aptly sums up:
“It is a great environment to fail miserably safely, to get some really blunt and honest feedback, to improve on yourself and to improve on your general skills.”
The YVLT holds their annual general meeting in March with all positions open. This is your chance to turn your leadership knowledge and skills into daily habits and create the future you envision.
Today’s guest blog post is by Young Farming Champion. agroecologist, farmer, author, keynote speaker, climate warrior and Climate Wise Agriculture founder Anika Molesworth
Being involved in the agricultural sector has given me a front row seat to food production. I have stood in fields surrounded by millions of tiny corn plants, filled with awe at the fragility and possibility of this new life. I have seen hour-old lambs wobble to their feet for the first time, cheering on those first steps as it finds its mothers teat. I have felt the sense of pride of being a farmer and growing food with the knowledge that this is going to be enjoyed by someone and nourish them.
Ronni is CEO and Founder of OzHarvest. She is the yellow truck driving, dumpster-diving, food waste fighter who has recently released her memoir, “A Repurposed Life.”
Ronni and the incredible team at OzHarvest Education are doing fantastic work on stopping society’s dysfunctional food waste behaviour. Their goal is to adhttps://ozharvest.org/vocate, inspire and influence the community in order to halve food waste by 2030. It is so fantastic to see this work being done because no farmer wants to see their food end up in landfill. This is because it’s not only the food that gets wasted – it’s also all the time, labour, water, nutrients that went into producing it. Precious human and natural resources that need to be cherished, not dumped.
One of the most exciting questions to ask regarding food waste, I think, is
“How do we design waste out of the system?”
This is one of the principles of a circular economy – not just how do we recycle better – but how do we actually create systems where waste doesn’t exist?
Where can we put processes and technologies in place, that an output from one user/sector is immediately utilised as a valuable resource by another.
With one in five shopping bags in Australia ending up in the bin, there is huge room for improvement.
Ronni has a radiating smile as she talks about all the opportunities we have to fix the system and feed people properly. She definitely had me motivated to do more by the end of our conversation! Learning about their objective to collaborate with people right along the food system was particularly uplifting. The OzHarvest team is working with supermarkets, distributors, students and farmers to solve this problem.
We all need to play our part in reducing food waste – from the paddock to the plate – and by doing so, we will
“When societies around the world were straining under the pressure young Australians were designing a future that will benefit farmers, consumers, and the planet for generations to come”
Agriculture is a sector that attracts substantial public attention. It is pivotal that the sector and everyone working in the sector can build and maintain relationships with a range of people, who often have diverse interests in what the sector does.
The building and maintaining of community relationships is crucial for the long-term future of food security. To deliver solutions that benefit the farmer, the consumer, and the planet for generations to come it is pivotal the agriculture sector takes collective action to create and deliver community engagement opportunities that encourage mutual trust and respect.
Building deep and lasting relationships between consumers and producers is at the heart of everything we do at Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA). PYiA aims to promote a positive image of Australian agriculture, encourage the uptake of agricultural careers and foster two -way conversations within the community.
To facilitate this PYiA identifies and trains emerging leaders (Young Farming Champions) in the agriculture sector to deliver our in school programs, The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas. A key strength of our in school programs is encouraging schools to identify and connect with trusted expertise in their local communities.
Asking them to take on our deep-dive, time-demanding, project-based learning programs and engage with diverse groups of people beyond the classroom seemed an impossible task.
Yet, rise to the task they did and it became abundantly clear to us that spreading the good word about Australian agriculture is not about one-day workshops or employer-sponsored conferences, but rather is dependent on the strong relationships we forge over the longer term. Our Archibull and Kreative Koalas schools, too, came to value these partnerships and everywhere we turned we found examples of students, teachers, community, government and industry working together for a common goal of promoting prosperity while protecting the planet.
This collective action for collective impact model creates a community of people with collective intelligence.
It requires visionaries and champions within those organisations who are willing to experiment to find the most effective models.
In this post we are introducing you to some of the visionaries and champions who are supporting agriculture to build lifelong community relationships.
Local Land Services is a NSW Government land management agency delivering quality services to rural and regional landholders. Their visions and ethics align with those of PYiA and over the years we have formed a formidable partnership. In 2020 staff from LLS offices across the state worked closely with our Kreative Koalas schools.
Hunter LLS school engagement Officer Jane Lloyd-Jones was on the front line of this partnership. Building on her successful partnership with Medowie Christian School in 2019 Jane worked with Dungog Public School to raise awareness of the endangered red goshawk, and with St Brigid’s Primary School who adopted the endangered Hunter River Turtle as their mascot (and donated $300 to the Australian Reptile Park to aid its preservation). Exeter Public School and Chevalier College also benefited from visits from LLS representatives.
Pauline Dunne and Freddy Herrera from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) worked alongside Jane and the LLS, delivering presentations into schools in the Hunter to talk about biodiversity and conservation. Pauline recognised the value of this collaboration with LLS:
“Jane’s role as the Local Land Services schools education officer makes the process seamless for all of us. She was able to coordinate all the relationships between the educators and the Hunter Local Land Services and DPIE and Aussie Ark and there was a combined willingness to share networks and contacts.”
Hunter LLS and the DPIE was also invaluable in providing funding to support workshops designed specifically to meet the needs of teachers and students participating in both The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas. These workshops were facilitated by a dynamic group of leaders including Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education principal Kris Beasley, changeologist Les Robinson, science communicator Jenni Metcalfe, 21st century learning expert Josh Farr and John Holloway from the Murray Darling Basin Authority Education team.
NGOs can also play a pivotal role in raising awareness about the pivotal role farmers play in nourishing our country. OzHarvest’s FEAST, a food education program for primary students, married perfectly with Kreative Koalas and several schools chose to complete both in 2020. Annangrove Public School studied SGG 2: Zero Hunger with Kreative Koalas using their re-invigorated school garden and lessons learnt in FEAST to support the local Windsor Community Kitchen.
“We donate eggs and vegetables every fortnight to Windsor Community Kitchen and have decided that we will sponsor Windsor Community Kitchen and donate money to help them pay their rent, as well as donate food.”
Other schools participating in FEAST in conjunction with Kreative Koalas were Medowie Christian School, Primbee Public School and St Brigid’s St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School with the community being a major beneficiary of student fundraising and food growing efforts.
Indigenous influences were prominent in The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas. The Australian curriculum encourages teachers to create a culture where indigenous stories and language are fostered. More and more teachers are seeing Kreative Koalas and The Archibull Prize as ideal vehicles to foster indigenous knowledge. Many schools invited local Elders to present to students, indigenous designs were incorporated on artworks (such as the stunning rainbow serpent from Raymond Terrace Public School) and both cows and koalas supported names in local indigenous language.
“We used iridescent rainbow tiles with organic shapes to piece together a large Rainbow Serpent, to circle the design. We used no paint and created a design which literally reflects (due to the mirrored tiles) our ideas and exploration of Aboriginal stylised design and bushfire theme. Our koala will form the centrepiece of our new Aboriginal cultural garden at Raymond Terrace Public School.”
Calling on the knowledge of local heroes such as Indigenous Elders was a key part of relationships built during 2020. NSW Southern Highland schools Exeter Public and Chevalier College, who had been impacted by the 2019/2020 summer bushfires, connected with local fire brigades and used Kreative Koalas and The Archibull Prize as healing mechanisms.
“This writing [on their koala] allowed the children to express their feelings and emotions about the bushfires as it affected them and then focus on the positive aspect of the bush coming back alive. Kreative Koalas certainly has been a wonderfully informative and healing project to be a part of.”
In Kreative Koalas St Joseph’s School at Grenfell tapped into a wealth of local knowledge as they studied water sustainability. Weddin Landcare officer Melanie Cooper, John Holloway from the Murray Darling Basin Authority, Sally Russell from Lake Cowal Conservation Centre and “our local plumber” from Conron Stockrete all supported the students in their learning journey.
Similarly, in The Archibull Prize Innisfail State College in north Queensland, studying the health of their local catchment, called on a range of local experts. These included Innisfail Elder Alf Joyce (Uncle Alf), banana farmer Mark Nucifora, the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, Elders Innisfail and extension offices from Canegrowers.
“As an artwork, the Archibull has allowed students to engage with their region and the real-world issues they face within their futures. It has been an incredibly positive experience for all the students involved from the incursions and presentation sessions. More importantly, the painting of the cow has been a great experience for the students to connect, be creative together, communicate their ideas and support each other throughout this creative process. They have loved it and are very proud of their efforts.”
Looking back at the achievements of our 2020 Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas schools it is easy to forget that all their projects were constructed under the duress of a global pandemic. When societies around the world were straining under the pressure our young people were looking forward to the future. They were investigating, and actioning, United Nations Development Goals, using PYiA programs to heal, researching new ways to sustainably and regeneratively farm and, most importantly, making connections and forming relationships that will guide them into the bright future they deserve. Even in a pandemic we can take inspiration from our youth.
With “flexibility” being our key word for the beginning of the new decade thanks to our 2020 partners, teachers and students we are better placed for the challenge that will, no doubt, come in 2021.
Many of our 2020 schools participating in The Archibull Prize chose to investigate agriculture in their own back yards by looking at historical and current methods of farming and researching new ways to a sustainable and regenerative future. This is what they found:
Innisfail State College in northern Queensland created Guyji (the traditional Mamu word for “determined to do a certain thing”) to illustrate the story of their rivers of home – the South and North Johnston Rivers.
Year 9 art and agriculture students engaged with their region and explored issues that will determine their future, as they followed each river down either side of their Archie. The rivers of the Innisfail catchment wind through rainforest and banana plantations, dairy cows and tropical fruits, and show not only negative practices such as excessive fertiliser use and illegal dumping but regenerative agriculture and increasing biodiversity – two paths, one future .
“At the back end of the cow the two river systems meet and this is where our school is located in Innisfail. The river is depicted flowing out to the Great Barrier Reef with all that it captures from within the Cassowary Coast catchment. The Great Barrier Reef represents both the positive (with its survival) symbolised with the presence of turtles and the opposite side being depicted bleached and lifeless.”
Chevalier College in the NSW Southern Highlands also explored regenerative agriculture on their Archie named Sustaina-BULL, which was a particularly relevant topic considering much of their local area had been impacted by the bushfires of the 2019/2020 summer.
Sustaina-BULL has a map of major centres in Southern Highlands, a black side (representing Black Angus cows) showing the effects of climate change including bushfire and drought, a green side (representing Holstein Freisan cows) showing sustainable farming practices and healthy eco-systems and an udder covered with fake news headlines to address misconceptions about agriculture. It also has interactive QR codes leading to a video produced by the students.
The artwork is a combination of abstract painting, collage and 3D elements such as burnt sticks in the fire, paper pulp to give dimension to the hills of the highlands landscape and felting textural animals.
“The father and son on the rear end demonstrate the future of farming, with the interpretation being the father leading the son towards a sustainable future of farming providing food, clothing, and resources for the future population of Australia and the world.”
At St Catherine’s Catholic College in Singleton there is an Archie with a tree poking out of it. This is Regen-a-bull – the environmentally friendly Archie from the Year 7 agriculture students.
Healthy soils form the basis of Regen-a-bull and support the tree, made from the branch of a storm-damaged tree on the school grounds. Circles are used extensively to represent the cyclical nature of regenerative agriculture. There is also a wooden magpie (in tribute to the school’s resident dive-bombing menace), ryegrass seeds and a cow pat!
“We have used materials that were sourced locally or on our own school farm. We have tried to minimise impact on environment, including minimising waste, to create our Archie. Regen-A-Bull” is a timely symbol of the importance of looking after the soil if we are to mitigate climate change, improve resilience to drought, and produce healthy food for our population.”
Penrith Valley School in western Sydney took the concept of regenerative agriculture one step further by turning their Archie, Ain’t No Bull, into a working hydroponic system, decorated with themes from their Indigenous students.
The hydroponic system collects water at the Archie’s head, distributes it to the living plants on Ain’t No Bull, can store excess water, and drains used water through the udder. A porthole allows a 360o viewing of the internal assembly and functional capacity of the system. A thermometer and rain gauge allow for the measurement of weather changes over time.
“Ain’t No Bull is a unique sculpture, which has integrated the concepts of a sustainable agriculture future in the Nepean/Hawkesbury Valley. The working model of a basic hydroponic system in the Archie is a unique and interactive feature that is designed to present the concepts of a sustainable agricultural process to the broader community.”
2020 was an extreme year of challenges for our Archibull Prize participants as schools scrambled to modify the curriculum to online and remote learning during the pandemic. To incorporate the deep-dive of The Archibull Prize to this situation showed tenacity and commitment of a higher level and we applaud each and every school that completed their Archies.
The Archibull Prize operated under new model in 2020, one that encouraged partnerships with other schools and the community and asked schools to choose an agricultural issue close to their hearts. Several of our schools chose to compare natural fibres such as wool to synthetics in the world of fashion and to examine how Australian agriculture contributes to the world’s food security. Let’s meet some of our 2020 Archies.
Susie Sustain-a-bull is the name of the ‘puzzling’ Archie created by Queensland’s Kilcoy State High as they explored world food security.
“Food security is a puzzle, as the world produces enough food for all but there are still individuals and communities who are without sufficient food.”
The puzzle theme is on full display on Susie with jigsaw pieces representing both challenges and solutions to food security. The Year 10 agricultural students were shocked to learn 1 in 5 Australians go to bed hungry and wanted to use their artwork to engage people in discussions about this topic, particularly as it is generally unspoken in the media or amongst people who never go hungry. To this end, one of the prominent puzzle pieces is labelled “You”.
“This represents every person as it is considered everyone’s responsibility to do their bit to help all achieve, obtain and maintain food security; even if just in a small way. This piece hopefully gets people to think about what they can do to help solve the problem.”
Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School in western Sydney partnered with local feeder school Leonay Primary School to produce their Archie named Piece by Piece to Peace. The students from Stages 3, 4, 5 and 6 sought to understand why synthetic materials are the backbone of fast fashion, rather than organic alternatives.
They expressed their findings in finger painting on a split personality cow they turned into a front loading washing machine to highlight the damage microfibres from synthetics create in our oceans.
“One side shows the dirty world that we have created, always using, always consuming, always throwing away. The things we use are often poisonous to us and our earth, and no matter what we do, no matter how many times we manipulate the synthetic product into something new, it remains a synthetic monster that hurts nature. The other side expresses wonder, beauty and the calm wave towards rest and contentment. No synthetics. No darkness! ”
The standout blue wave on Piece by Piece to Peace is inspired by the artwork The Great Wave by Hokusai and was used by the students to illustrate the massive changes needed to create a more sustainable world of clothing and fashion.
Launceston Church Grammar School in Tasmania also looked at fast fashion, comparing a range of popular disposable clothing items to the biodegradable and long-lasting properties of wool. The result was their Archie named Woolba.
Year 9 geography students took a deep dive into the world of wool – visiting local farms, chatting to wool-brokers and engaging with our wool Young Farming Champions. The ugg-boot wearing Woolba has a 3D diorama along her spine showing off the process of wool production and an in-built screen, which displays the school’s digital learning from The Archibull Prize.
“Through our in-class investigation of the fashion and textiles industry, our scientific investigation of safety of fabrics, and our interactive learning with genuine and passionate members of the wool industry, it became overwhelmingly certain that wool is the best material for clothing, and that we need to foster a transition to slower fashion, where people choose fewer items made in fair conditions.”
In a year when a global pandemic has changed our way of life, students participating in the modified 2020 Kreative Koalas competition were still profoundly impacted by climate change (Sustainable Development Goal 13) and its effect on life on land (Sustainable Development Goal 15). The most obvious example of this was bushfires.
In 2019 Raymond Terrace Public School won the title of Grand Champion Koala for their exploration of climate change and bushfires. They continued this theme in 2020 with the creation of a brilliant mosaic koala called Disco Inferno.
Disco Inferno has no paint but is covered in glass and plastic tiles and buttons. Iridescent tiles forming a Rainbow Serpent circle the koala. Flames are depicted around his base, he wears an Ambassador 2020 sash and beneath his eyes are tears cascading down his large cheeks and covering the lower half of his face, as the students asked the question: would a river of tears quench the land ablaze?
“We created a design which literally reflects (due to the mirrored tiles) our ideas and exploration of Aboriginal stylised design and our bushfire theme. Our koala will form the centrepiece of our new Aboriginal cultural garden at Raymond Terrace Public School, and should last the test of time with many small hands touching across its vast surface when they are drawn to explore and consider the story telling embedded within our creation.”
Disco Inferno is stunning, bedazzled and jewelled.
At first glance Kevin, the koala from Emu Heights Public School does not seem to have a connection to fire, swathed as he is in beautiful blues depicting the natural environment of the Blue Mountains.
But even Kevin has a fire story:
“In the hot Australian summer we had a lot of bushfires that burnt many trees around our school that had to be cut down. Due to the loss of these trees many koalas and other Australian animals and plants lost their homes. As a grade we decided we would help our native animals and plants by giving them a new home!”
Kevin represents the school’s new sustainable garden with its native bees, birds and butterflies, and Kevin inspired the students to build a butterfly house and a bird house from scratch. Bee houses were purchased and painted and Kevin now sits proudly in the garden amongst bottlebrush.
Climate Clive, the koala from Launceston Church Grammar School – our sole Tasmanian entry – reminds us that life on earth is fragile, and bushfires feature prominently on his body.
Clive’s base is an underwater scene but his body soon transforms to the oranges and blacks of a bushfire inferno. One small piece of green is on his nose.
“The students wanted Climate Clive to tell a story of the human impact on our environment both under water and on land. The narrative the children illustrated included the devastation of recent bushfires, pollution and the spiral effect on our animals and plants. The symbolic representation of the germination on the koala’s nose signifies regrowth and hope for the future.”
Clive is representative of all bushfires that impacted Australia at the beginning of 2020 and shows the effects the fires have on our young students.
The effects of fire on students and their communities was dramatically illustrated on Gula (the Gundungurra language name for koala), the entry from Exeter Public School in the Southern Highlands. The most striking feature of Gula is the 3D-printed Glossy Black Cockatoo flying out of the flames in a scene that creates hope and resilience.
“In January 2020 our local area in Exeter was impacted by the Currowan Bushfire. Our town was evacuated in the middle of the night. It was a very unnerving and scary time for the children of the local area.”
Gula is a split personality koala illustrating both the devastation of bushfires and regeneration. He features photos of the fire and writing from the students describing their experiences. The words hope, resilience and regeneration are written upon his body.
“The stories from the children allowed them to express their feelings and emotions about the bushfires as it affected them and then focus on the positive aspect of the bush coming back alive. It is also defined by the resilience shown by the students. Little did they know that further resilience would be needed with COVID. It has been a very challenging year, and as a school we are very proud of our students and many ways they have overcome the impact of the fires and the courage they are displaying in looking forward positively towards the future. Kreative Koala certainly has been a wonderfully informative and healing project to be a part of.”
Our 2020 Kreative Koala Kids have done a health check on our planet and made decisions about what global issues are in their control to take local action on
They have devised action plans and put them into practice. We look forward to checking in with them in 12 months time to see how they have maintained the rage and delivered permanent behaviour change in their schools and communities.
In the third of our Kreative Koala kids artwork showcases we introduce you to the Young Australians who are thinking deeply about water and energy
With young Australians being highly aware the country they live in is the hottest. driest inhabited continent its not surprising that they are very focused on ensuring we have access to clean water and renewable energy
The United Nations has created 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Several of these encapsulate our attitudes to water SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production [including water use] and SDG 14: Life Below the Water). SDG 7 looks at affordable and clean energy. Five of our 2020 Kreative Koalas chose to explore these themes.
A tap sprouting from his head is the most arresting feature of Marang Galing Barrandhang (Good Water Koala) from Grenfell’s St Joseph’s School. Every other element of their koala flows from this tap.
Marang Galing Barrandhang is a kaleidoscope of activity . The wetlands of Lake Cowal are featured, as is the Murray-Darling river system. The students have used a combination of bright and dark colour schemes to illustrate different water use practices and the oranges of droughts through to the blues of their recent rain.
Looking at water use has inspired St Joseph’s to change its own water use practices.
“Our school has recently implemented a new, more sustainable, school watering system for our playing oval, green spaces and garden beds. To achieve this, we connected to the local council’s reticulated wastewater system. We installed tanks at our school to store the treated water. The water from the tanks was then connected to our existing pipework. This will ensure our students have green spaces to play on, even during droughts which are common in our area. This offers far better water sustainable practices!”
Watch the students talk about their Kreative Koala journey here
Water sustainability was also the theme for Carlingford Public School who created a koala named Atlantis.
“When you look the Koala in the eyes you are confronted with the view of our Earth. This flows into a waterfall as water is essential for life on Earth. From the water grows our strong trees representing life on land and this links to the back legs showing the oceans and life below water; the land and water are linking. The contrast of the sunset and starry night creates a feeling of planet Earth travelling through space. This heightens the fact that our planet is precious – there is no Planet B! Our artwork aims to highlight how special and unique our planet is and how we must all work to save our amazing home!”
180 Year 6 students from Carlingford connected with fellow KK participants Gol Gol Public School to learn about the Murray River and take inspiration from this for Atlantis.
Watch Carlingford West Public School learning journey here
From the Murray River our KK schools turned their attention further north when Emu Plains Public School created Big Barry to spotlight coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. Big Barry is a riot of painted paper collage, as bright and vibrant as a healthy reef.
“Most of the reef is bright, colourful and full of diverse species living in this habitat. This represents both the past before the seas had an increase in temperatures and the future, of what we hope to preserve and keep if we make the right changes today. A small portion of the reef is pale, white and brown to represent the bleached coral.”
Portals on Big Barry give the viewer a deeper insight into this water story: one portal shows trees that absorb excess carbon dioxide, another shows deforestation and just below Barry’s heart is a portal showing a light bulb, a direct reference to energy consumption.
“Students have learned that small actions of theirs can have a domino effect for our planet. It matters if they leave the lights on all day. It matters if they make a conscious effort to turn it off. It matters if we cut down trees. It matters if they plant more trees and shrubs in their own backyard.”
Caragabal Public School, between Wagga and Parkes, looked out their own back door and chose to look at water in another way – the lack of it. Their community has been affected by hard drought in recent years and so the students created a koala named Dusty Paddocks and researched drought sustainable farming practices.
Dusty Paddocks features a weathered hat with 3D agricultural machinery and a brown shirt coated with pot fragments to represent parched earth. Both the hat and shirt were donated by local farmers. The shirt overlies a beautiful blue koala and opens at the front to reveal a Superman suit, because these kids can save the planet.
“Dusty Paddocks was designed by kids who were just coming out of an incredibly harsh three-year drought. These students were able to put all their pain and stress of farming in drought into their designs to make something that was truly authentic and cathartic for them. The students’ names are each written on a claw of the koala to show their ownership. It is about the hope for a better future for their land and their families.”
Watch Caragabal Public School on Behind the News
Being the only school to look solely at renewable energy makes Gardener’s Road Public School unique in the 2020 KK competition and their koala Windston shows off the sun and the wind, representing both solar and wind power.
“The artwork includes three dimensional structures, representative of Gardeners Road Public School, solar panels and wind turbines (students found solar panels to be one of the most easily accessible energy sources within Australia, even in a built-up, suburban areas like the city of Sydney) and symbolises the connections and partnerships formed between diverse communities, including rural farming areas and inner-city areas.”
As part of their journey into energy use they initiated “Unplugged” where the entire school turned off electricity for an hour. This in turn encouraged students and their families to be more conscious of their energy consumption, or as one student commented:
“I have learnt so much about energy, you could almost call me Einstein. We have spread so much awareness, so hopefully more people will be interested in making changes too.”
Students created their own TV channel to raise awareness about energy efficiency and promote life changing habits
Our next post will share with you the impact of the bushfires on our young changemakers
In our second post sharing our 2020 Kreative Koalas entries we connect with you the big ideas and the call to action from the schools who chose to focus on how we can work together to save Australia’s threatened species.
Koalas have been headline makers throughout 2020 and Penrith Valley Learning Centre chose this topical avenue to look at urbanisation, land degradation and destruction of habitat as they asked: Can we save the koala? The result was this super impressive koala named Urban Connection.
Urban Connection has 3D sculptures protruding from all over his body, representing buildings and road encroaching on the koala habitat. He has building waste representing land degradation and a bundle of sticks representing loss of trees. He has burnt bark representing fires from last year and a red cross representing the Port Macquarie koala hospital. He even has a coin and note slot for donations to help save the koala.
“This [the coin and note slot] allows students, staff, family and community members to contribute money that will be donated to the Koala Hospital, or a like organisation. It is our hope that these creatures will be here for future generations.
When you hear the wind rustling the leaves high up in the trees, stop and listen, for it is the spirit of the koala calling to you.”
Dungog Public School in the Hunter Valley designed a superhero koala named Gydgy to highlight the cause of local endangered animals, in particular the Red Goshawk that is on the brink of extinction.
“We decided we should split the koala in half and represent things that are destructive to our environment and the endangered animals in our area on one side and the things that protect it on the other side. On one we placed things like hunters, pests, pollution and bushfires. We felt these had the biggest negative impact on the environment in our area. On the good side we placed some of the endangered animals in our area, a beautiful lush forest, and some people working on planting trees. We felt these showcased the biggest positive effect we have on our area. We wanted to give the koala a superhero mask so that he felt like he was ready to fight for our endangered animals!”
Gydgy also features a film-strip representing the ‘heroes and villains’ movie the students made with heroes including Eucalyptus Woman and Red Goshawk.
Also looking at endangered species in the Hunter Valley was St Brigid’s Primary School who focussed their attention on the Hunter River Turtle and gave their koala the Gathang language name for turtle of Hunter Bila Guraa. So this creation is half koala, half turtle!
Hunter Bila Guraa’s head is the colours of aboriginal flag making him a biodiversity warrior. The school vegetable garden is strategically placed on his tummy, his sides represent the good and bad outcomes for threatened species, his front legs are the local Hunter and Williams Rivers and the Hunter River Turtle (and new school mascot) straddles his back.
“Our koala is unique as he is the only koala who wanted to become a turtle. We researched lots of designs to ensure we did something original. With his large turtle back and a Gathang name to identify him, we think our turtle is one of a kind. The situation of the Hunter River Turtle is dire and we feel passionately about changing this.”
Through their fundraising efforts St Brigid’s was able to donate $300 to the Australian Reptile Park for specific use on their new Hunter River Turtle enclosure.
You can watch St Brigid’s digital learning journey here
Two schools chose to research the impact of our actions on bees. They were Gol Gol Public School and Primbee Public School. Queen Koala Bee was the entry from Gol Gol Public School in Mildura.
Queen Koala Bee, with her grey head and dark green body, is lovingly covered in a swarm of hand-made bees – both European Honey Bees and Australian Native Blue Banded Bees. Together the bees form a crown on her head.
“Queen Koala Bee sits majestically in our school office to welcome guests and visitors. Her loyal swarm of bees are hard workers and keep up the important task of educating the importance of bees to our community and environment. Students are now excited when they see a bee, especially a native Blue Banded Bee and they thank them for what they do.”
The Gol Gol KK project incorporated putting together seed packets and ‘how-to-make’ bee hotel instructions in a sealed packet. A packet was then given to the youngest sibling of each family. The students are excited to watch their flowers grow and attract their own bees.
Primbee Public School in Warrawong (Wollongong) cheekily combined their school and suburb names to come up with Warrabee, the rainbow coloured koala championing bees.
Primbee students participated in OzHarvest’s FEAST program growing and cooking their own food and realised the importance of bees in their own garden.
“On the back of our koala we have a silhouette representing our gardens. Every class has a session where they go out to our playgrounds and contribute to making our gardens more presentable. Above the silhouette, we have a selection of colours that represent our classes. pink at the top for Grevillia, red for Bottlebrush, yellow for Wattle, green for Eucalyptus, blue for Bluegum and lastly purple for Jacaranda.”
Bees represent the sustainability initiatives Primbee Public School is undertaking including worm farms, gardening, collection and recycling of food waste, and the construction of a wooden bee hive. Warrabee illustrates their ideas on sustainability and shows their true colours!
The United Nations has created 17 Sustainable Development Goals and each school participating in Kreative Koalas is tasked with choosing one main goal to study. For the very first time several schools chose SDG 2: Zero Hunger so let’s look at their artworks as they do their bit to feed the world and realise the importance of school gardens.
Looking at clean water scored Medowie Christian College the title of Grand Champion Community Project for Change in 2019 and this year the talented cohort turned their attention to zero hunger, with their koala appropriately named The Hunger Hero.
Inspired by their school garden and their participation in OzHarvest’s FEAST program, Medowie’s Hunger Hero is a palette of school-produced food including fruit trees, pumpkins, apples, chickens, corn stalks and root vegetables.
“It was excellent and surprising to see that, even though this garden was located in our main infants play area, NO ONE disrespected our garden. All students looked after it, made sure it was cared for and our plants grew healthy!”
As part of their project Medowie also collected over 150 tinned items, which they donated to Medowie Foodway, for distribution in the community to those finding it difficult to find enough to eat.
Another school helping those less fortunate in their own community was Annagrove Public School who donated school-produced eggs and vegetables to Windsor Community Garden.
“We donate eggs and vegetables every fortnight to Windsor Community Kitchen and have decided that we will sponsor Windsor Community Kitchen and donate a portion of the money we raise on mufti days to help them pay their rent, as well as donate food.”
Annagrove’s koala Badayla (an aboriginal word for food) is also a pictorial exploration of the school vegetable garden and, as an added bonus, holds a container for the collection of food scraps, which are then fed to the school’s chickens.
Annagrove also participated in FEAST and were surprised at how easy it was to incorporate sustainability, not just in terms of food, into their daily lives.
“We now find that we are more aware of the impact we are having on our environment with everything we do. Another surprising thing was how we had a positive impact on other people we knew (some of our parents were even asking us for ideas and tips). Our parents, friends and family all showed changes in their behaviour through seeing and hearing about what we were doing.”
Watch their learning journal
Willow, from St Mary’s North Public School, was the third koala representing zero hunger and she is a split personality koala. The beautiful blue side of Willow depicts a sustainable world where everyone has enough to eat, while her orange side depicts the opposite. The students ask us: “Which world would you choose?”
The school garden also played an important role at St Mary’s giving students an appreciation for the hard work that goes into producing food. Their Kreative Koala ideas began in the garden and morphed as this crazy year of 2020 progressed through drought, fire and a pandemic.
“These changes also evoked fear in the students: what will happen to our world when we are in lockdown, how will we get food? This is how the students directed their focus on Zero Hunger, which then lead to studying the SDG’s Life on the Land, Responsible Consumption and Production and Climate Action.”