2019 Kreative Koalas Design a Bright Future Challenge Winners announced

Medowie Christian School and Raymond Terrace Public School have been named Grand Champion Koalas in the 2019 Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future Challenge. Kreative Koalas is a ground-breaking project-based learning initiative from Picture You in Agriculture, which this year delivered the sustainability message and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals into fifteen primary schools from the Hunter Valley and Penrith Regions.

Young people may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. Through Kreative Koalas we are giving them a voice in designing and creating that future. This year students have investigated local issues and worked with the community to give a voice to our Koalas and threatened species, our waterways and our farmers. The students have said ‘Together we can’

Medowie Christian School was awarded the Grand Champion Community Project for Change after collaboration with Hunter Local Land Services to raise the importance of healthy waterways for clean water and sanitation. The students developed six easy-to-follow methods for protecting waterways and made these into a pamphlet, which was distributed to the school community. The students also visited their local Gramhamstown Dam to examine the health of the water through temperature, turbidity, salinity and pH testing and presented their findings at a school assembly. Learn more about the winning project here 

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Students from Medowie Christian School with Chair of Hunter Local Land Services Lindy Hyam ( right) and teacher Martha Atkins ( left)

Raymond Terrace Public School was awarded Grand Champion Koala for their vibrantly decorated, life-sized fibreglass koala named Mitjigan Guula, which means girl koala in Worimi language. In collaboration with their Aboriginal Girl’s Group they incorporated indigenous designs on their artwork to look at the effects of climate change on koala populations. And, in what has unfortunately proved to be timely, the koala portrays how inaction on climate change can lead to devastating bushfires.

Students from Raymond Terrace Public School with Costa Georgiadis

In other awards Penrith schools Ropes Crossing Public School and Colyton Public School  were recognised for their artwork and community project for change respectively.

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Four students were acknowledged as eco-warriors. These students were Zoe Bonifacio from Colyton Public School, Keeley Haywood from James Erskine Public School,Tayla Weeks from Medowie Christian School and Josie Hodges from Gresford Public School.

All schools received their awards at a ceremony held at Tocal Agricultural College on Thursday November 28, attended by sponsors and supporters and emceed by celebrity gardener Costa Georgiadis.

Photos from the awards day can be found here and a big shout out to our supporting partners empowering young people to solve tomorrows problems today

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Kreative Koalas tackle food waste

Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future Challenge helps young people solve some of the world’s biggest challenges by giving them ownerhsip of the solutions. Using the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals each school participating in Kreative Koalas is tasked with choosing one main goal to study. Our schools have selected a wide range of SDGs, illustrating the variety of issues important to primary school students.

Food waste is one of the world’s biggest wicked problems. As children we understand “show-and-tell”. This works in the case of wicked problems, too. One way to speed up best practice behavoir adoption is through demonstration.

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Image source 

Continuing our series showcasing the 2019 Kreative Koalas artworks –  let’s have a look at their creative contributions that focus on SDG 12 Responsible Production and Consumption

Following the 2019 Kreative Koala trend of acknowledging local indigenous culture, students at Lochinvar Public School in the Hunter Valley created Kuluwayn, the Wonnarua name for koala. Kuluwayn is a striking koala combining the Wonnarua culture with recycling initiative Lids4Kids, which produces prosthetic limbs for disabled children using 3D printing.

We wanted to incorporate the fact that our school sits on Wonnarua country and that we are a Lids4Kids community collection point, so what better way to do it than paint Kuluwayn in traditional Aboriginal colours and decorate him with lids! His face and toenails have been specifically painted grey to reflect the original colour of koalas in the Australian bush. We have spread little clusters of lids on various parts of Kuluwayn’s body. Each section represents a symbol which is significant to our school.”

Those sections include Lochinvar Creek, meeting places, gardens, yarning circles and tracks and trails around the school.

He encourages people to bring lids to the school so we can reduce landfill and help others who are missing limbs.”

Colyton Public School, in western Sydney, drew upon Japanese influences to name their koala Mottainai, meaning ‘what a waste’ as they focussed on sustainable fashion.

We thought the name perfectly summed up our research about the monumental pollution caused by the textile industry and that as responsible consumers of fashion, we need to embrace the four R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle and respect.”

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Mottainai is decorated in pictures of sustainable fibres such as flax, mohair and feathers, and is draped in a woollen scarf made by the students. The koalas feet are chained in synthetic fabrics.

The smaller structure on the side focuses on the concept of fast fashion, starting with a stop-motion animation created with lego to tell the journey of a pair of blue jeans. It is supported by statistics about the impact of fast fashion and is created by using cut-outs from high glossy fashion magazines.”

‘Everyone can make a difference’ was the theme for Coco, the Kreative Koala from Bellbird Public School in the Hunter Valley, who portrays initiatives developed by the school to support responsible consumption and production.

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Coco’s head is decorated as a globe showing that it is everyone’s responsibility to think about and act upon making responsible decisions about our environment and all the people and animals of the world.

Coco’s ears are decorated with bowls of food. These represent us hearing the call to action from our homeless who require our assistance with nourishing food.

Coco’s eyes have glasses which we collected from our community to support people in third world countries who cannot afford or don’t have access to reading glasses.

Under Coco’s mouth is a toothbrush representing the terracycling of dental hygiene products we collected from our community to reduce landfill.

Across Coco’s body are items that can be effectively sorted into green waste, recycling or general rubbish, representing our commitment to reducing, reusing and recycling.”

Mega shoutout to our supporting partners helping young people solve tomorrow’s problems today

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Kreative Koalas helping young people solve tomorrow’s problems today

‘Problem solving is the essence of what leaders do’

 “I’ve often contended that the best leaders are the best problem solvers. They have the patience to step back and see the problem at-hand through broadened observation; circular vision. They see around, beneath and beyond the problem itself. They see well-beyond the obvious. The most effective leaders approach problems through a lens of opportunity.” Karl Popper Source

Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future Challenge helps young people solve some of the world’s biggest challenges by giving them ownerhsip of the solutions. Using the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals each school participating in Kreative Koalas is tasked with choosing one main goal to study. Our schools have selected a wide range of SDGs, illustrating the variety of issues important to primary school students.

Continuing our series showcasing the 2019 Kreative Koalas artworks –  let’s have a look at their creative contributions that focus on SDG 6 Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG 11 Sustainable Citiies and Communities and SDG 14 Life Below the Water.

Captain Waterways is the split personality koala from Medowie Christian School at Port Stephens who looked at SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation. Half of Captain Waterways represents a healthy waterway; the other half represents an unhealthy one.

Captain Waterway’s main message is ‘Only Rain Down the Storm Drain’.

Inspired by a field visit with Jane from Hunter Local Land Services the Year 3 and 4 Medowie students came up with six initiatives to support clean water.

  1.  Don’t litter
  2. Pick up your dog’s poo
  3. Wash your car on the lawn or at a car wash
  4. Prevent sediment going down the drain
  5. Fix your leaky cars – oil is bad for our waterways
  6. Pick up grass clippings after you mow”

Another koala exhibiting signs of a split personality is Elanora from Oxley Park Public School with one side paying homage to Indigenous Australia.

The school and community are part of Darug land and therefore half of the koala is connected to our past. We wanted to represent water as giving life, hence the black silhouettes of water creatures. Water also gives life to communities and that is represented in the concentric circles on the koala.

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Oxley Park students are working on a range of environmental projects and these are represented on the second half of Elanora, along with their key messages of “Think globally – act locally” and “small change – big impact”.

Elanora is a distinctly city-dwelling koala with ties to her Indigenous ancestry. The messages and mini sustainability projects depicted on her left side are testament to the student’s endeavours and genuine concern for leading a more sustainable lifestyle. By having two sides to Elanora showcases the unique, diverse cultural community of OPPS.”

Oxley Park combined several SDGs including 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, 12: Responsible Consumption and Production and 14: Life Below the Water.

Cessnock Primary School also looked at SDGs 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities and 14: Life Below the Water as they created Gumnut. Gumnut is also a split personality koala.

Our theme was to show two futures. One side was a good side, where we as a world choose to recycle and be sustainable. The other side of our Koala represents a world where we don’t recycle, and the world gets overrun with pollution and waste.”

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At the beginning of their Kreative Koala journey students at Cessnock Primary School realised they did not have a recycling program and so their first step was to petition teachers for a bin. This idea became incorporated in Gumnut.

We designed a box, which the koala sits on, and the plinth doubles as a garbage bin that can be opened and removed from the back of the box. Stage 3 students empty it out in afternoons. The sides of the box match the koala. One side is bright and beautiful, the other is a beach littered with rubbish.”

Another split personality koala is Koral Koala from the students at Thornton Public School, in the Hunter Valley, who concentrated on SDG 14: Life Below the Water and, in particular, the effects of litter and pollution.

On one side is a clean flow of water with marine animals alive and well. On the other side is polluted water with litter scattered around. Our message was rain only down the drain.”

Koral incorporates a rainbow fish, made from chip-packets, spewing out storm water. She holds a net she is using to scoop litter from the water and she proudly wears a Thornton Public School hat.

On the ears we painted the aboriginal symbol for community – this was to show that as a community we need to come together to work to help save our environment.”

Also looking at Life Below the Water were students from St Michael’s Primary School at Nelson Bay who created Plastic Pete, a koala with a hidden message.

Students selected to create a beautiful ocean scene with the hidden message, just as plastics can be hidden in the ocean as they break-down.”

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Plastic Pete has fabulous depictions of marine wildlife but students wanted to show the long-term impacts of plastics in the ocean.

Just because the ocean looks clean and beautiful, doesn’t always mean that there aren’t plastics there. They continue to persist in the food chain in smaller and smaller fragments. Plastic Pete is unique as appearances can be deceiving. Below his beautiful ocean scene lie a compilation of common single-use plastics, many of which were collected in our beach clean-up.

Mega shoutout to our supporting partners helping young people solve tomorrow’s problems today

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Koalas and young people working together to live harmonioulsy

Continuing our series showcasing the Koala artworks of the school participating in 2019 Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future Challenge

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. Four of our 2019 schools chose SDG 15: Life on Land so let’s have a look at their creative artworks.

Harmony is the brilliantly coloured koala from Vacy Public School where students from Years 3 and 4 were assisted by aboriginal students from Years 5 and 6.

“Our theme is living in harmony with native flora and fauna on the land inspired by the Wonorua people who are the traditional custodians of our land.”

Using aboriginal art as their stylistic influence, students looked at how land use around Vacy has changed over time. Fishing from the local rivers is portrayed, as is bush tucker used by the Wonorua.  The words Balance and Harmony are painted on the koala’s arms, and the aboriginal design on her chest:

“represents a meeting place. Vacy Primary School is a meeting place in our village for children to come together to learn and share ideas on how we can look after our land, our animals and keep a balance between human needs and the sustainability of our world.”

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Koko the Koala is the representative from Ropes Crossing Public School in Sydney’s west. Koko is delightfully colourful and comes with her own plants as she illustrates the importance of bees to Australian native fauna.

The students were involved with Hurlstone Agricultural High School/Western Sydney University’s No Bees No Future project and combined these learnings with Kreative Koalas.

“We came up with the brilliant idea to turn our Koko into a ‘pollination station’ meaning transforming Koko into the most magnificent pot plant you have ever laid your eyes on.”

In their research the Years 5 and 6 students also looked as SDGs 2: Zero Hunger, 3: Good Health and Wellbeing), 12: Responsible Consumption and Production and 13: Climate Change.

Over at Gresford Public School everybody from kindergarten to Year 6 was involved with the creation of Kara who came adorned with a straw hat and a motion sensor camera. Kara’s message was to know about, value and help Australian native wildlife, and in particular endangered animals.

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Painted in solarguard so Kara can be placed in the school garden, the artwork depicts animals such as Tasmanian Devils, Regent Honeyeaters and Swift Parrots and themes such as animal shelters, tree planting, tracking, posters and film-making. Kara even has poetry written by the students.

Kara has a personality and a “Voice” through the messages and QR codes which link to students reading their poems on the theme of nature. These links are webpages in our digital journal and our process has supported and valued authentic student voice.”

Students at Gresford Public School also created a fabulous video call to action

All 36 students at Bob’s Farm Public School drew inspiration from the Worimi language of the traditional custodians of Port Stephens to name their koala Ngunnawal (koala) Ngurra (land). Their koala uses collage and decoupage to illustrate sustainable farming.

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“Students and teachers took part in the ‘Adopt a Farmer Initiative’ early in 2019. This experience allowed us to create a before and after sustainable practice theme to help identify how to maintain a sustainable and healthy environment.”

Ngunnawal Ngurra is covered by photographic and text cut-outs from magazines and newspapers that show the do’s and don’t’s of sustainable farming and what that looks like for life on land. The koala also illustrates issues pertinent to students such as sand mining at Bob’s Farm.

You can read more about Bob’s Farm Kreative Koalas project here 

Special shoutout to our Kreative Koalas supporting partners helping young people solve tomorrow’s problems today

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Koalas and young people solving the world’s wicked problems together – taking Climate Action

Kreative Koalas Design a Bright Future Challenge brings together young people from urban and rural Australia to solve the challenge of achieving a sustainable poverty free world by 2030 using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals  as their inspiration

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On a global scale achieving success will require

  • Bringing the right people together, in the right place, at the right time
  • Understanding there will be trade-offs and governments, businesses, the non-profit sector, and communities will need the courage to make difficult decisions based on thoughtful and genuine commitment to the SDGs.
  • Monitoring, evaluation and feedback loops

The Kreative Koalas project based learning model supports students and teachers to investigate the SDGs trade-offs and the difficult choices that will need to be made that may mean there will be winners and losers, at least in the short term.

Climate change (Goal 13) is a classic example. Those affected in the short term, such as fossil fuel companies and their workers, will perceive themselves as “losers” if they are forced to change, even though society as a whole will be a “winner” in the long-term by avoiding the tremendous risks and impacts of runaway climate change.

In 2019 three schools chose SDG 13: Climate Change to focus their Kreative Koalas’ artwork on. Let’s have a look at their creative artworks.

While looking at how climate change affects local koala populations, students in Years 3 to 6 at Raymond Terrace Public School collaborated with their Aboriginal Girl’s Group to produce a stunning koala called Mitjigan Guula, meaning girl koala in Worimi language.

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The Raymond Terrace koala uses aboriginal story-telling and painting to send a contemporary message of what is happening on Worimi lands and how inaction on climate change leads to devastating bush fires.

“Just like our young RTPS Aboriginal Girl’s Group, this koala is a young female in an uncertain world. The Worimi girls are traditional custodians and they feel connected to their lands. Mother Earth has always provided for First Nation people a feeling of connection, a sense of belonging to the Earth, to all living things – the animals, the trees, the stars, one another. In culture there is balance. The female, mother, protective, nurturing in her essence, the vessel through which life is carried would be the symbolic metaphor to speak to the dangers of inaction on climate change.”

With a clever play on words Year 5 students at James Erskine Public School named their koala Climb It as they studied climate action. Climb It has been split down the middle to contrast, on one side, a world of inaction and complacency with, on the other, a world where the future has been transformed.

“What we could see and feel for ourselves – hotter days, longer drought, water restrictions, extreme weather, bags and bags of garbage headed to landfill, rubbish blowing across the playground, abandoned chicken coops and overgrown gardens… It was easy to see the changes that we needed to make.”

This became the theme for Climb It and the inspiration for images such as a compost bin, a Return and Earn bin, a drought affected farm, pollution, bees, bushfires and an hourglass that reflected students’ feelings that Earth is running out of time.

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Students at Bennett Road Public School named their koala Dhara, which is Hindi for “planet Earth” and they began their project by asking “if you could change one thing in the world what would it be?” This led to Dhara becoming a depiction of the school lands’ history and an expression of the changes and initiatives the students want to make to their community.

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Dhara has a garbage bag scarf to symbolise animals coming into contact with plastics, and a traditional hat with swinging corks to symbolise the fair dinkum Australian culture. It also has 3D motifs of flowers to represent the importance of bees to the environment.

“Our koala is unique as it tells the story of our area visually while spreading a message about how to look after the planet. Our art work is one of a kind – not only you can see the koala but you can interact with all the pieces that are stuck to it such as the rubbish, flowers and animals.”

Shoutout to our Kreative Koalas supporting partners for helping young people solve tomorrow’s problems today.

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It you could change one thing about the world what would you do?

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This was the challenge set for students at Bennett Road Public School as they embarked upon their 2019 Kreative Koalas project.

Through their research students came up with an enormous range of ideas including:

  • purchase of a hive to support bees,
  • purchase of tanks to conserve water,
  • expansion of the school garden to provide produce for the canteen,
  • investment in solar panels,
  • the reduction of food waste through worm farms and composting,
  • extension of the school recycling project
  • support of community initiatives such as Lids for Kids and Wands for Wildlife
  • recycling and repurposing clothes
  • planting of native trees and shrubs

After researching ways to make a difference students then made a case for change:

“Students through research, investigation and education realised the importance of the environment. They understood that the environment plays a crucial role in the healthy living of humans in the world.”

And defined a scope for action:

“We decided the best way to help the climate was to learn how to help so we could teach others and then start to make changes at the school together.”

This led to an action plan involving zero-cost changes at the school, minimal cost changes and long term goals that can be achieved through slow sustained implementation and evaluation.

“The cost of solar panels and water tanks are expensive and not always included in school budgets. There are ways around big ticket items such as applying for grants, entering competitions and getting sponsors. But educating the students about the cost and effects of using electricity has made them more aware and conscious about turning electricity off and limiting their uses of resources. Our students have become more environmentally aware and conscious”

Through their Kreative Koala journey the staff at Bennett Road Public School was proud of the knowledge and passion students displayed in their research and presentation of ideas, and their enthusiasm for change and how they can make a positive impact. This was tempered somewhat by the realisations that change can take money and time, and that not all in the community believe in climate change. However teachers were surprised at how students committed to sharing their knowledge with family and friends, and implementing change in their own households.

“Success for us is defined as students making changes themselves and educating others about changes they can make that will positively impact the future.

Success is having students passionately talking about the environment and thinking critically about the things they can do to help.

Success is creating a generation of environmental activists that are prepared to stand up and come up with imaginative plans to improve the future. Through education we can make sustainable lifelong change.”

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Awesome work Bennett Rd Public School

Thank you to our supporting partners

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Students at Bobs Farm Public School inspired by the drought to become a closed loop school

We asked the teachers and students at Bobs Farm Public School why they signed up for the Kreative Koalas experience. This is what they said

We are passionate about sustainable living and protecting our local environment. As a school, we were made aware of the hardships New South Wales farmers were currently experiencing and we wanted to help.

We were shocked to discover the extent soil erosion and land degradation is affecting farmers, their crops and livestock. Along with the proposed sand mine decision within our area, this led us to choosing SDG 15 Life on the Land as the goal we wanted to foucs on at a local level .

What was their project big idea ?

Our project idea was to build awareness and to teach Bobs Farm students how to keep local land healthy and instil positive attitudes towards land preservation. Students’ worked as a team and brain stormed thoughts and ideas to recognise the major struggles of NSW farmers. We then discussed our findings and identified two significant causes of struggling farmers:

  1. Soil Erosion due to drought
  2. Land Degradation caused by unnecessary clearing

From here we outlined several project goals to help guide our action and to ensure our big idea is successful within our community.

The following big idea goals included:

  • Raising awareness about soil erosion and land degradation and its affects towards local farmers.
  • Prevent soil erosion in school playground and garden areas
  • Improve soil quality in our school’s garden beds
  • Stop further land degradation and soil erosion in high traffic car parking area at the front of our school

What Happened?

Students used several avenues to acheive their big idea project goals. These included:

  • Inviting local farmer Callum Mercer, to an incursion at Bobs Farm Public to discuss the affects soil erosion and land degradation has towards farming.
  • Use of ground covers, mulch and laying bark in high traffic student play areas and perimeters of school garden beds to prevent topsoil loss.
  • Benefitting from students’ fruit and vegetable scraps to go towards composting to improve soil quality in garden beds.
  • Laying a gravel section at the front of the school to stop soil erosion and further land degradation.
  • The school took part in the ‘adopt the farmer’ initiative. We invited local farmers for an information session on 8th May where, 35 students raised $67 from an out of uniform event to send to Rural Aid contributing to the cost of sending hay bales to drought stricken farmers.

How Did they define Success?

Bobs Farm Public defined success through the following achievements:

  • Students have increased their knowledge and extended awareness of #SDG 15 LIfe on the Land and understanding of the effects of soil erosion and land degradation has on food and fibre production. This was made possible by a visit to the school by Kookaburra Farm Stay business owner, Callum Mercer, who is also a parent of our school. Along with his farm manager Kate King, they presented for our students and community a discussion on the importance of sustainable farming, as well as koala preservation.

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  • Bobs Farm Green Team worked in conjunction with our local Bunnings store to cover the perimeters of the garden beds with mulch to help prevent land degradation and soil loss around the existing school garden and play equipment area. We then established a regular maintenance procedure to maintain mulch depth, preventing any further topsoil loss.

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  • Our Green Team established a composting bin system within our classrooms. Students were educated in what types of fruit and vegetable scraps are suitable for composting and which are not. Students emptied compost bins daily into our large compost bin, located within our kitchen garden area. This was then turned into soil, ready for our garden beds and improving soil condition throughout the year. In partnership with Bunnings, we have recently upgraded two of our raised garden beds and filling them with rich compost that the students have contributed to and we are now growing seasonal fruit and vegetables, which supply our school canteen with organic produce.

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  • It was brought forward in the schools P&C agenda to improve and help prevent further land degradation at the front of our school where parent parking and pick up occurs. Members of the P&C worked alongside with school staff to contact and organise local Port Stephens council, to inspect and suggest how to best revive the eroded and damaged land area at the front of the school. From there, the P&C liaised with local council and arranged a day to repair the damaged land area by filling it in with gravel and sand. The repair of the eroded land area has now prevented further loss of top soil and ground erosion caused by the high traffic area.

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 We asked the students what was Excellent, Unfortunate, or Surprising?

 Unfortunate: Understanding and becoming aware of the hardships and struggles of farmers in NSW. We were shocked to learn how drought and land degradation has a ripple effect on the land and livestock of farmers.

 Fortunate: Meeting a local farmer and providing the students with an authentic presentation on land management and how to maintain sustainable farming practice. For instance, to keep animal numbers down to a sustainable level to avoid over grazing in our paddocks and prevent damage to top soil.

 Surprising: That students wanted to do more for sustainable living within our school. Our Green Team have improved upon our recycling and are now looking at improving our school’s sustainability circle. This will include the use of food scraps to feed our school chickens, who then give us eggs. We then sell these eggs to our school community, providing funds to buy seasonal seeds for our school garden and help produce food for our school canteen.

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Congratulations Bobs Farm Public School tackling global challenges at a local level

Thank you to Heather Collins from New Zealand for this comment

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