Our Kreative Koalas are FEASTing


A beautiful synergy is created when two like-minded organisations come together for the greater good. In this tumultuous year of 2020 it is heartening to see OzHarvest’s FEAST program running alongside Kreative Koalas in many primary schools.

FEAST (standing for Food Education And Sustainability Training) is the flagship program from OzHarvest to teach primary school students about sustainability, food waste and nutrition using hands-on cooking and inquiry-based learning.

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Nina Charbon is the education communications coordinator for OzHarvest.

“FEAST started as a pilot program in 2018 and in 2019 went national and since its inception 220 schools have participated. Most of our schools are funded to do the program, which is an adaptable and flexible – for example it usually takes between 7 and 10 weeks but this can be customised for each school. FEAST is curriculum aligned and ticks a lot of boxes for teachers and schools don’t need a kitchen – we can set them up with a kitchen kit and an electric frypan and they can cook in the hall or anywhere convenient. Why wouldn’t you do the program?” she says.

Two schools who are participating in Kreative Koalas have done FEAST in previous years – Gardeners Road and Exeter Public – but this is no ordinary year and, in testament to the program’s flexibility, adaptations have been made.

“Our school [Gardener’s Road] participated in the OzHarvest FEAST program during Term 1 this year. We found FEAST to be very flexible, especially during remote learning (towards the end of Term 1 and the beginning of Term 2). We were able to adapt elements of the FEAST program and still implement learning experiences through online learning platforms, when students were learning from home.

We were hoping to complete the cooking element of the program during Term 3 however, with the department and health guidelines that were in place, we thought it would be best to wait.  Now that disruptions and restrictions have eased and more activities have been allowed to go ahead, both students and teachers are looking forward to cooking up a feast (pardon the pun haha).” Suzie Barr – Gardener’s Rd Public School  teacher .

Young Farming Champion Meg Rice recently interviewed FEAST creator Amelia Berner to learn more about the program and to understand why schools such as Gardeners Road are repeat participants.

“It’s about educating kids about healthy eating, food waste awareness and sustainability. In Australia over 7.3 million tonnes of food ends up in landfill each year and one third of this food waste comes from the home. Lessons given to students in the classroom will make big differences in the home and community.”

This ethos is mirrored in Kreative Koalas and it comes as no surprise another five schools are participating in both programs this year: Annangrove Public School, Medowie Christian School, Primbee Public School, St Brigid’s Primary School and St Mary’s North Public School. Here is what the teachers are saying:

“Kreative Koalas and FEAST are complementary programs and we will engage with them side by side to learn more about growing and preparing food in a sustainable way. Foods that we grow in our kindergarten garden (a community project we have begun in our Kreative Koalas program) will be used as much as possible when cooking and preparing meals as part of our FEAST program. We have also put in compost bins as part of our KK project so any food scraps in our FEAST program will go into our compost bins, and back into our gardens in order to grow (organically) more vegetables. Our goal is to create and continue this sustainable cycle.” Martha Atkins – Medowie Christian School

Read more about Medowie’s KK journey here

“As soon as we saw the OzHarvest’s FEAST program we knew it would be a great supplementary activity to coincide with our Kreative Koala project. Throughout the Kreative Koalas program the students have been sharing their knowledge with their families and I’m sure that this will also happen when we commence our FEAST program next term. Our goal is that we create in our little school what we would like to see happen on a worldwide scale.” Johanna Urio – Annangrove Public School

“For our school, these two programs go hand in hand. With the Kreative Koalas we began looking at SDG 15: Life on the Land. We have looked at land management, food production and sustainability. Our Year 4 students have taken this further with the investigations into habitat loss of our threatened species. We will combine aspects of both programs to educate our students on the benefits to not only themselves, but the wider community as well as native animals. We encourage the students to think globally and see how these small steps they make can have a greater impact. Ultimately, we hope we will be using the vegetables we have grown to make food items for sale in our school canteen.” Kirsten Jones – St Brigid’s Primary School

Kreative Koalas and FEAST complement each other, provide ongoing support for teachers and are bringing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to the fore.

“Both programs understand the importance of encouraging community engagement and provide opportunity for our students to have a voice and take action on important issues,” Amelia says.

Register for Kreative Koalas in 2021 here Register for FEAST here

Agriculture in the Classroom – Students tackle Fake News

The joy of using agriculture as an educational tool is it can be used to teach everything on the Australian curriculum (including critical thinking skills) and help young people get jobs

Critical thinking skills are one of the top four employability skills 21st century employers want most.

Our research shows that young people want to significantly increase their creative and critical thinking skills This includes determining the difference between what’s real and what is “Fake News”

Our research has been complemented by the fabulous work of our partner  Western Sydney University in their study of News and Young Australians

As this article in The Conversation highlights, we live in an age of fake news and Australian children are not learning enough about media literacy.

The challenge for teachers is how do we better prepare young people to effectively navigate the complex and nuanced landscape of modern news and social media.

We are excited to be part of a team helping teachers do this using fake news in agriculture as an example.

Part of what the students will find out is what is fake news in Australia is not necessarily fake news in other countries. This helps to reinforce the message that there is not a one size fits all solution to the challenges our farmers face to grow food and natural fibres on the hottest, driest inhabited continent

What does a Fake News lesson plan look like?

A quick summary of it might look something like this  

  • Teachers ask the question, “What is Fake News?’
  • Students discuss their ideas.
  • Class teachers can facilitate the discussion by making a brainstorm of their answers.
  • Younger students, play the ‘Get Bad News’ game to help them understand the process of creating fake news and the effect it has globally;
  • Older students play the ‘BBC iReporter’ game for older classes.
  • As a class, google the following:
    • Hormones in milk in Australia
    • Hormones in chicken

Teachers might then invite the students to break into groups for a wider discussion and share their learnings with the community via their Archibull Prize ( secondary schools) or Kreative Koalas ( primary schools) digital learning journal

The aim of each task is for the students to create and present a short presentation of their findings at the end of the lesson

Tasks could look like this

  • Group 1 – Look at fake news as a concept. What is it? How does it happen? Can they create a checklist to help other students to spot fake news?
  • Group 2 – Investigate what the media gains by spreading fake news. Present an explanation of their findings.
  • Group 3 – What’s a credible resource? What’s credible science? Students investigate these 2 headings and provide short explanations of both.

(Group 2 and 3 could also create visuals (such as a poster or comic strip) to accompany their work.

  • Group 4 – Invite the students to discuss the ethics around deceptive advertising and its consequences. Students can use the Consequence Wheel for this exercise

Some resources the teachers might use:

News and Young Australians

We live in an age of ‘fake news’. But Australian children are not learning enough about media literacy

Beyond fact-checking: 5 things schools should do to foster news literacy

The media exaggerates negative news. This distortion has consequences

We look forward to sharing the students agricultural flavoured journey to detect biases and agendas in media and feel empowered to distinguish fact from fiction, be savvy consumers, and learn to advocate for public good?

And this very important feedback from a teacher. Another question agriculture can ask itself.

Is our succession plan and capacity to spark interest in careers in agriculture reaching young people where they are at


The 2020 COVID  ready editions of The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future are off and running in 34 schools from Tasmania to Queensland, and here is a wrap of their first few weeks in action.

As you can see the Moos are definitely in the News

In the media

Caragabal has received rain! This momentous occasion for students and families of Caragabal Public School in western NSW made ABC headlines. Kids spoke about the breaking of the drought and how sustainable practices are shaping their farming future.

Also talking to the ABC about Kreative Koalas was teacher Martha Atkins from Medowie Christian School in the Port Stephens region. The students also shared their journey to #ZeroHunger with the Port Stephens Examiner

Medowie took out the title of Grand Champion Community Project for Change in 2019, so this is definitely a school to watch out for.

The Port Stephen Koala Hospital will be opening on September 25, and radio station NEWFM radio, previewed the event, which guest stars the Grand Champion Koala artwork from Raymond Terrace Public School.

On our blog

Medowie also featured on our PYiA blog (we love to celebrate our schools and feature them regularly) discussing their goals for 2020 with zero hunger and cookbooks!

Meanwhile, James Erskine Public School reflected on what they had learnt from Kreative Koalas in 2019 and how it has affected their school twelve months down the track.

St Catherine’s Catholic College at Singleton told us how COVUD has had some positive changes, allowing teacher Joanna Towers extra time to study and to investigate the world of regenerative agriculture.

Innisfail State College, who is taking part in both the Archies and Kreative Koalas, is improving critical thinking through collaboration, connection and communication.

Carlingford West Public School met a special group of young women from our Young Farming Champions program who totally busted their stereotype of what a farmer looks like.

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Webinars and resources

Thank you to John Holloway from the Murray Darling Basin Authority Education Team for his very well received Deep Dive into Water webinars and the extremely engaged students who joined him. See the story here. John will be available to run more webinars for Stage 3, Stage 4 and Stage 5 after the holidays.

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Thanks also to our wonderful collaborator Kris Beazley from Richmond Agricultural College – Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education who is running eight one-day Hack-a-thons, focussing on design thinking train the trainer workshops, for teachers participating in our programs.

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Following on from their Caragabal Public School story the ABC has created a teacher resource on the breaking of the drought.

Expressions of interest are now open for 2021

If you are a secondary school you can submit an EOI for The Archibull Prize HERE 

If you are a primary school you can submit an EOI for Kreative Koalas HERE 

Visit our website to find out more

Shout out to our supporting partners who are empowering young people to be critical and creative thinkers and changemakers ready for the jobs of the future.

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Delivering on what young people want – A webinar with the Murray Darling Basin Authority helps students understand Australia’s water

Did you know the Murray-Darling Basin region produces food for 40 million people (almost double Australia’s total population)?

Or that it is home to 2.6 million people, over 40 Aboriginal nations and 16 internationally recognised wetlands?

Did you know this mighty river-system actually has naturally low volumes of water – so low that the amount of water flowing out of the mouth of the Murray Darling in one year is the same as the Amazon’s flow in one day!

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PYiA connects learning to real world issues and our surveys show our young people are particularly interested in learning about how we ensure everyone has access to clean water and the role of our river catchments in delivering this .

One of our aims is to work with supporting partners to introduce these young people to experts and so, in order to deliver on what our young people want, PYiA recently facilitated a series of webinars for schools participating in Kreative Koalas and The Archibull Prize. The webinars were hosted by John Holloway from the education team at the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA).

John Holloway showing the students how much fresh water there is on earth if the earth was one metre across 

“We love virtual presentations and often it’s the only way to do them when the Murray-Darling Basin is over a million square kilometres. I love the look of understanding when kids can connect to new knowledge and see something with new eyes. We use water everyday but we rarely stop to think how special it is,” John says.

John tailored his presentations to both primary and secondary students.

“For Years 5 and 6 our key message is knowledge and awareness of the Basin as a special national asset. We all know, and can picture, the Great Barrier Reef, for instance, or Uluru—but despite its vital significance many Australians are oblivious to the Murray-Darling Basin. It’s such a massive and diverse system – really a living thing – and we struggle to get our heads around it. With older students we like to get the message across that water management, like many of our big 21st century challenges, is very complex and often contested. There are no simple answers – but this is something that all Australians are in together,” he says.

Kreative Koala participants Caragabal Public School and St Joseph’s Primary School at Grenfell fall within the catchment for the Murray-Darling Basin and water is always front of mind for these students. Caragabal recently celebrated the coming of the rain in an ABC story, and both schools found particular relevance in the seminar.

Danielle Schneider is a teacher at St Joseph’s and is leading her students through sustainability with a specific focus on water management.

“The highpoints from the webinar included speaking directly with John Holloway who was exceptionally knowledgeable and provided the students with information on the importance of water and sustainable water use and management within the Murray-Darling Basin.

The key messages the students took home were that there is a finite amount of water available on Earth and, therefore, it is essential to look after the water we have, sustain this, and recycle it where possible. Another key message was that the Murray Darling Basin Authority and the Australian States work to control Murray-Darling Basin water and we must all use it wisely and appreciate it. Overall, the webinar educated students about the Murray-Darling Basin. This linked well to our class studies based on sustainability and water use. It provided students with access to valuable input not always easily accessible to us in the past,” she says.

The MBDA seminars were a wonderful way to connect to students participating in The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas, and we look forward to facilitating further webinars in the future, guided and informed by what our young people want.

#SDG14 #SDG15 #KreativeKoalaKids


Kreative Koala Kids using cookbooks and big ideas to achieve zero hunger

After their successful foray into the world of Kreative Koalas in 2019, when they were awarded Grand Champion Community Project for Change for raising awareness of healthy waterways, Medowie Christian School are this year tackling zero hunger.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2: Zero Hunger is being investigated by students for the first time in 2020 and teacher Martha Atkins is excited to see changes in student thinking already.

 “One of our boy’s fathers works with AOG Medowie Foodway and he told us that Foodway supports 1500 families in Port Stephens, which is 10% of our population. This  was an eye-opening statistic for students. They thought zero hunger only applied to homeless people. They did not realise there were people and families who had a house and jobs who were experiencing difficult times. It has not been a hard job to get them to engage with this goal – they are excited about doing something to help.” Martha says

Whilst the students initially wanted to create a food bank within their school one of the things the students learnt from participating in KK 2019 was if you want to have community impact it’s important to meet the needs of the community and so began a journey of community consultation. The students created a survey which they shared with their family and friends.

“The feedback from the surveys showed us the community felt a larger priority was teaching our community about growing fruit and vegetables in a sustainable way and that has become our focus,” Martha says.

Complementing Kreative Koalas, Medowie Christian School is simultaneously participating in OzHarvest’s FEAST program, which aims to inspire “kids to eat healthy, waste less and be change-makers in their local community.” The final product of FEAST will be a school cookbook.

 “FEAST will tie in really well with Kreative Koalas and zero hunger.  We are a K-12 school so we have an agriculture teacher and our own school plot so we grow a lot of our own vegetables and will be using our own resources. We are looking at making our school garden a sustainable garden.” Martha says.

Another surprising outcome from Medowie’s community survey was the number of people who did not know about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“60% of those surveyed didn’t know of, or couldn’t explain, the SDGs and when the kids saw that they thought ‘oh that’s easy – we can fix that one  The students are making a video about SDGs and are enthusiastic about sharing information on their blog. “Although we’ve chosen zero hunger, if we want to see real change, we need to make all the goals famous.” Martha says.

Congratulations Medowie Christian School on your wonderful start to the 2020 Kreative Koalas program – we look forward to watching your journey and your contribution towards Zero Hunger. AND raising awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals and inspiring others to join the movement to achieve them.

You can follow the students on their blog here 

Listen to Martha Atkins share the students journey with ABC Newcastle

#KreativeKoalaKids #GobalGoals #SDGs #bthechange #behaviourchange #sustainability



Keep your “Eyes” on St Catherine’s Catholic School

Students at St Catherines at Singleton celebrate the arrival of their Archie 

COVID-19 has dominated the way we work in 2020, creating challenges and uncertainty; but with it has also come opportunities for new entrants to our in-school programs The Archibull Prize (TAP) and Kreative Koalas (KK).

TAP and KK are operating under a new model this year, which encourages communities of practice across primary, secondary and tertiary education institutions, business and government. One school taking on the challenge for the first time is St Catherine’s Catholic College at Singleton, under the guidance of agriculture teacher Joanna Towers.

“One good thing about this crisis [coronavirus lockdown] is I have had time to study at home and listen to a range of webinars in my own time. It has opened up a whole new world for me – soil health, regenerative agriculture, carbon in soils. At the moment I am into dung beetles and it’s become my goal to get them back to the school farm.” Joanna says

The 35 hectare school farm has previously had all but 4 hectares leased to a third party but this year the lease will revert in entirety to the school.

“How we will manage that land has given me the impetus to put new learnings into place,” Joanna says.

In a normal year the students of St Catherine’s would have pigs and cattle ready for the Sydney Royal Easter Show and its cancellation brought great disappointment to the school.

“I wanted something different and something the students could look forward to.  I had always been aware of The Archibull Prize and always looked at the final products with amazement, but I thought the project was too big. Now we have an art teacher on board to provide creative genius and a new direction for the school farm, and are participating in both The Archies and Kreative Koalas!” Joanna says

St Catherine’s tasted success with PYiA when they joined the Careers Competition in 2019 where one of their students, Hallee Tanzer, won the Years 7 to 10 section. Joanna found this competition, and the resume writing competition that is part of The Archibull Prize , to be a great asset for her students.

“Glencore [mining company] is a major employer in Singleton and recently they advertised 40 positions and got 1800 applicants. The Cultivate your Dream Career Competition will give  the students skills in resume writing to make that important first impression. For example, it’s all very well to say to an employer you are a team player but it’s the concrete evidence of those skills that is important. Students may not realise the skills they learn in school are transferable to the workplace and this competition helped them make that connection.” Joanna says

St Catherine’s will be joined on their 2020 Archibull Prize and their  Kreative Koalas journey by Young Farming Champion Tim Eyes, himself a promoter of sustainable and ethical agriculture, and we look forward to watching their vision for a new school farm evolve.


It would be a great honour to support Sir Ken Robinson’s legacy

Sir Ken Robinson (1950 – 2020) was the most watched speaker in TED’s history, with his 2006 talk ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’ being viewed online over 60 million times and seen by an estimated 380 million people in 160 countries.

He was named as one of Time/Fortune/CNN’s ‘Principal Voices’; acclaimed by Fast Company magazine as one of ‘the world’s elite thinkers on creativity and innovation’ and ranked in the Thinkers50 list of the world’s top business thinkers. Source

He was a man who will always inspire. His vision to unlock the creative energy of people and organisations inspires the Picture You in Agriculture team

in this video filmed in May 2020 Sir Ken says

Human beings are like the rest of life on earth, we flourish under certain conditions and we wither in other circumstances.

The other parallel is sustainble agricultural systems based on cultivating the soil, this is also true of our communities in our cities, in our neighborhoods, in our schools. That people flourish when the culture is right. Great teachers, great principals, great school systems understand that you don’t make a successful education system based on driving people through pointless systems of tests and output and data driven hurdles.

The way you get people to flourish, is by recognizing their individuality. The great diversity and depth of people’s talents of children from every age are full of boundless possibilities.

You do that by creating a mixed culture in schools. One that values the sciences, the arts, technology, that values individual talent, the driving force of individual passions. In other words, successful schools don’t focus on output, they focus on culture in the same way the sustainable farmers focus on the soil.

You get the culture right, everything else takes care of itself. That  means a culture of compassion, of collaboration, of empathy, and of the value of individuals and the necessity of our social lives thriving through our joint participation.

At Picture You in Agriculture  we are delivering sustainability education programs through the lens of agriculture

The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas -Design a Bright Future Challenge are connecting learning to:

  • Real world issues
  • Real world people
  • What young people value

Our programs are linked to all the key learning areas in the Australian curriculum as well as the general capabilities (employability skills) and the three cross curriculum priorities.

The programs also helps deliver the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration goals

In the process we are giving students agency and a voice

and thank you to the ABC  Behind the News for supporting Kreative Koalas Kids at Caragabal Public School to amplify their voices

We agree with Sir Ken. We have found young people love to learn. They have values we can all aspire to, they are deeply curious creatures, highly creative, deeply compassionate, and highly collaborative.

Visit our Kreative Koalas Changemakers page to be inspired

We are showing we can reinvent school, we can revitalize learning, and we can reignite the creative compassion of our communities if we think differently when we try to go back to normal.

COVID19 has been challenging for our funding model and we look forward to coming out on the other side to a joint vision for a bright future. It would be great honour to support Sir Ken Robinson deliver his legacy

Using agriculture to build the confidence of young people to be ready for the future of work

Emma - Life Changing

At Picture You in Agriculture we are a customer focused and people orientated organisation. For our in-school programs our customers are young people and we invite them to tells us how our programs can best support them to thrive in business and life.

They are very generous sharing their thoughts and dreams with us. We collect, track, and analyse the data to understand patterns and trends and make forecasts about what young people are thinking, feeling, talking about and want to act on. We measure to detect what is broken and refine interventions. We experiment to learn what works.

The clarion call in the past few years has been the request to help young people be confident they will be ready for the future of work . As you can see from previous surveys of the students we work with they are telling us they need a lot of support

Employability skills - extremely confident

Had a fantastic conversation with a teacher today. She tells me their school (which is participating in both The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas) is taking the opportunity to leverage our in school programs to increase their students employability skills and open their eyes to the depth and breadth of careers in agriculture. Yesterday the students had a presentation from a local agronomist, who shared his career journey and what his day in the workplace looked like .

The teacher was so proud of her students. She said the high level questions to the presenter came thick and fast.

One in a series that the agronomist handled beautifully was:

Student: How many clients do you have?
Agronomist: 85
Student: Isn’t that a conflict of interest?
Agronomist: Took a deep dive into a conversation about confidentiality and ethics

We are looking forward to doubling these young people’s confidence in their employability skills

Students from Carlingford West Public School find out what a farmer in the 21st century looks like

In 2019 when Zoe Stephens, science teacher at Carlingford West Public School, realised she had to teach her students about wool and sustainable fibres, she knew she needed to find an expert who could share real life experiences. So she trawled the internet looking for real-life farmers who may want to connect with her students. After plenty of maybes and half promises she came across Lynne Strong from Picture You in Agriculture and the Young Farming Champions, and Paddock Pen Pals was born.

Paddock Pen Pals beams Young Farming Champions from the paddock directly into classrooms using zoom, and this year six farmers joined the conversation at Carlingford West: Lucy Collingridge, Samantha Wan, Dione Howard, Katherine Bain, Danila Marini and Chloe Dutschke.

“Before we started I sat down with the Year 6 cohort [over 180 students] and asked them what they thought of when they pictured a farmer. You can imagine the comments – someone out in a field sucking on a bit of straw, big hat on and always a male. So then I said ‘next week you’ll actually get to chat with some farmers and they’re all young women’ and their mouths just hung open. It was amazing to have six young women to talk with us, particularly incredible because we are really breaking that stereotype of who is a farmer.”  Zoe says.

With 82% of careers in agriculture supporting farmers to produce food and fibre the stereotype is certainly changing.

All Young Farming Champions work in different parts of the wool industry: Chloe is a contract musterer, Lucy a biosecurity officer, Dione a veterinarian, Katherine a business analyst, Sam a wool broker and Danila a researcher, and all were paired with a separate Year 6 class for a half hour presentation.

“All our farmers had something different to offer and this broadened the students’ understanding of the industry beyond sheep growing wool. Our big question was how are our farming industries implementing sustainable practices and having a dedicated Young Farming Champion for each class meant the students got a very one-on-one conversation with these farmers and I think that gave them more connection with who they were talking with.” Zoe says

Big Question

“The kids were great,” Lucy says. “They had so many exciting questions and we had a great discussion about the sustainability of the wool industry with the kids who all knew about renewable resources and the unsustainable process to make man-made fibres.”

Sam showed the students a range of woollen products.

PPP Sam Refelction

Dione spoke about animal health

PPP Dione Student refelction

Danila described her research into virtual fences

Danila 2

Danila 1

There were lots of questions for Danila

Chloe amazed them with the size of her property (“She had 18,000 sheep,” was one student’s comment. “I thought there would be only around 20 and they would be kept in a big red barn with a little fence!”)

Katherine Bain 1

Katherine “introduced them to my sheepdog Zip and got to show them a video of sheep being moved in the yards which caused a lot of excitement!”

“One of my favourite quotes from the students, which I heard over and over again, was ‘she answered my questions. Afterwards I asked them to reflect and write down what they had learnt and I love the fact not one of them were the same. Everyone has taken away their own understanding from their own perspective.”  Zoe says. 

The students have now created a wool wall in their classroom

Wool Wall

The students will use their new-found perspectives as they create a project around waterway sustainability, and have strengthened their connection with their Young Farming Champions by promising to share with them the final products. Paddock Pen Pals has been an exceptionally effective way of connecting with real-life farmers and diving deep into the Australian wool industry. It will also hold the students in good stead as they tackle the 2020 Kreative Koala challenge.

For the Young Farming Champions, Paddock Pen Pals was another way to give back to the wool industry.

“I grew up only half an hour from Carlingford West – these students were me – and I had no idea about wool at their age,” Sam says. “I was excited to talk to the next generation of wool consumers about the benefits of wool and wool’s importance in Australia and of the career opportunities available. I even got a message from AWTA (the largest wool testing organisation) managing director, Michael Jackson, reminding me he went to Carlingford West, and then had a successful career in the wool industry!”

For Zoe, this was the second year she had participated in Paddock Pen Pals and although she feels she now has a strong understanding of the world of wool,

“there is no comparison between me standing up in front of the students and telling them what I know about wool to having an actual farmer, standing in a field, talk with them.”

For the students, they have had their queries answered by an expert and they now know what a farmer looks like.




Prior to joining the Kreative Koalas program in 2019, students from western Sydney’s James Erskine Public School (JEPS) were already on a sustainability trajectory. They had been involved in Clean Up Australia Day and National Tree Day, had established a vegetable garden, a sensory garden and a bee garden, and recycled paper and cardboard weekly.

Then a giant white fibreglass koala landed on their doorstep and sent their environmental awareness into overdrive. They spoke with YFC Anika Molesworth about climate change and its effects on farmers, implemented composting and became part of the Return and Earn scheme by collecting recyclable containers.

“When we looked at 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. Our concept inspired the individual pictures on our koala and each day she grew. As we learned new things, we added them, it was a work in progress,” the students said in their Kreative Koalas artwork analysis.

But did JEPS maintain this enthusiasm once the project ended for the year?

“Kreative Koalas had a snowball effect on us. Since September last year we have continued the container recycling and returned over 7900 containers, earning the school $790. This has been used to purchase native bee hotels and a worm farm, and to sponsor a koala through World Wildlife Fund. This year we will also look at soft plastic recycling and possibly get chickens for the school.” teacher Taryn Pears says.

Their fibreglass koala, named Climb It, now holds pride of place in a purpose-built garden at the school.

“She’s surrounded by native plants and all the students are excited to see her on display,” Taryn says

And although Covid-19 has meant JEPS will not be taking part in the 2020 Kreative Koalas, the school continues to feed off the KK momentum.

“I was so glad we had the opportunity last year and we’ve had amazing feedback from the parents and the kids and even other schools who have called me up asking for advice. We have joined forces with Cassandra Lindsay [from Oxley Park Public School] and established a Kid’s Kitchen and Garden where the kids can grow edible plants and cook them. It has been wonderful to show the kids that small changes can make big differences.” ” Taryn says.

In 2020 the Kreative Koalas program, in conjunction with The Archibull Prize for secondary schools, has been adapted so it continues to reach students and teachers, even in a global pandemic! The importance of these programs is not lost on those in the wider community and extends to the political realm.

“I was so impressed with the student and school projects that were showcased at last year’s presentation. The children were outstanding in their delivery and the koalas, of course, are both an item of beauty and knowledge.” says Pauline Dunne Team Leader from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment says.

JEPS exemplifies the ethos of Picture You in Agriculture. Programs such as Kreative Koalas, and The Archibull Prize, are not one off events but rather paths to a sustainable future where our young people can be part of the solution and drivers of the change our world needs.

Taryn and the students from James Erskine Public School with Costa Georgiadis at the Kreative Koalas Awards