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

Bennett Rd.png

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.”

Progress.png

Awesome work Bennett Rd Public School

Thank you to our supporting partners

KK Sponsors

 

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.

Bobs Farm 2

  • 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.

Bobs Farm 3

  • 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.

Bobs Farm 4

  • 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.

Bobs Farm 6

 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.

Bobs Farm

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

Thank you to Heather Collins from New Zealand for this comment

Heather collins.jpg

KK Sponsors

Bellbird Public School empowering young people to embed the tools and desires to make positive choices for themselves and our planet.

Bellbird PS Coco Front View.jpg

We asked the teachers at Bellbird Public School why they wanted to participate in Kreative Koalas

They answered

As a staff our main motivation to participate in this opportunity was to provide authentic opportunities for students so they could recognise problems, design solutions and be part of making a positive impact upon their own and everyone else’s future.

We know that children are our future and it is our role as educators to

Each of the initiatives we have undertaken through this project have continued, we are still working on and improving applications to embed them in all our practices and more importantly into the lives of our community members.

 

What was their big idea

Bellbird Public School designed their Term 2 K-6 learning programs around a whole school theme of War on Waste. This underpinned and supported all of the initiatives we undertook as part of our participation in the Kreative Koalas Create a Brighter Future Program.

What Happened

All classes discussed what they felt were the main issues impacting upon the people and environment surrounding Bellbird and three major directions emerged;

  1. the need to reduce the amount of rubbish we as consumers were contributing to the environment
  2. the need to be proactive in improving and sustaining the quality of our immediate environment (Black Creek)
  3. our responsibility as a group to aid people less fortunate than ourselves by utilising existing resources

Once these three challenges were posed, classes and stages began planning ways they could contribute to solving them.

 Initiative 1 – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (SDG 12 .5 – Responsible Consumption and Production)

We conducted a whole school rubbish audit. We sorted and weighed the rubbish collected from all bins in our school. We were amazed at many things; how much paper ended up in the rubbish, the amount of packaging and the amount of food being wasted.

Bellbird 1

Classes and our school parliament had many discussions about a plan of action. We bought individual coloured bins to sort rubbish, paper recycling and plastic recycling. These were implemented in both eating areas and the teacher’s staffroom. We access the Return and Earn program with our appropriate containers.

Classrooms had recycling bins and small rubbish bins added. Recycling bins are emptied regularly by our Environment Ministers.

Bellbird 4

Stage 2 set up worm farms and collect food scraps daily from classrooms and eating areas. These worm farms fertilise our gardens.

Each Wednesday is Waste Free Wednesday. Through this we encourage all families to making both cost effective choices and environmentally sustainable choices about the foods that are purchased and provided for daily consumption at school. It was highly evident from our rubbish audit the high percentage of pre-packaged food that was filling lunchboxes. Our community were offered alternate ideas and suggestions such as buying in bulk and dividing into portion sizes in reusable containers and cooking more nutritious options.

Bellbird 6 Waste Free Wednesday

Outcomes

Awareness amongst students and staff has increased greatly about the amount of unnecessary waste we as consumers perpetuate. As our theme exposed us to information and facts about the Great Southern Garbage Patch, landfill required for extraordinary amounts of discarded clothing, coffee cups, water bottles and a wide range of reusable items, we have made changes to reduce our impact as a school and community. We have reduced the amount of rubbish being brought to school in lunch boxes, better reused resources such as paper that was going into landfill, utilised snippets from our community’s home gardens to create new potted plants to decorate our school but most importantly we have all started making conscious decisions about how our consumer choices impact upon the environment.

Initiative 2 – Improve and sustain health of our local creek and surrounding environment (SDG 15.1 Life on Land)

With the support of Cessnock City Council, Hunter Water and Bug Blitz, Stage 2 have participated in ongoing water testing, bug detecting, plant and animal species identification, weed identification and rubbish removal. Through these educational and awareness building opportunities, students have learnt about how local mines impact upon our waterways and the responsibility they have as residents to maintain their local environment.

 

Outcomes:

Students have claimed responsibility for this part of their environment. Small groups of volunteers spend their lunch play time over at the creek with a teacher ensuring that it is clean, clear of rubbish, and conducting testing that is recorded directly onto an app. and uploaded onto the net. Classes visit as whole groups to undertake more thorough data collection. Our General Assistant keeps the area directly adjacent to our school mown for easy access. It is an enjoyable place to be and a lunch time opportunity students line up to participate in. Pride in and group responsibility for the area have increased.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Initiative 3: To provide assistance to those in need through utilising existing resources

(SDG 12.3 Responsible Production & Consumption)

Bellbird 8a

Kindergarten sort a local charity that they could support and found Hunter Hands of Hope. This service provides daily meals and other services to the homeless in our local area. Blanchies Café in Cessnock kindly donated their left over food items that our Kinder classes cooked up into hearty nutritious meals that were delivered to the drop in centre each week by Kinder students with their parents and teachers.

As a school we have participated in terracycling of dental hygiene items, plastic lids to be made into prosthetics and reading glasses to be distributed in third world countries.

Outcomes:

This initiative was very well received by both the charity and the people who gratefully received these meals.  Both the Kinder students and their parents benefitted from this opportunity to support those in our community who are in need of a helping hand. It too provided a waste reduction of valuable food from the business. Instilling the mindset that we can all help others has been a wonderful trait to nurture.

The collection of the other items was well supported and continues.

Bellbird 8b

What Did they Notice Along the Way?

*All students K-6 have had the opportunity to be involved.

*Knowledge of environmental facts has increased.

*Desire to devise plans to take action for change have developed.

*Students have included their parents and family members in their learning journey.

*Everybody has made some impact upon positive choices for a sustainable environment both at school and home.

*All of the initiatives we have implemented continue to develop and enhance our students’ lives and those of our community.

Wow – awesome Bellbird Public School

#SDG2 SDG4 #SDG12 #SDG13 #SDG15

KK Sponsors

 

Lochinvar Public School share what was exciting, unfortunate and surprising about participating in Kreative Koalas

We asked Lochinvar Public School what was was

EXCELLENT

UNFORTUNATE

SURPRISING about participating in Kreative Koalas

No alt text provided for this image

This is what they had to say

The whole process has been incredibly rewarding, eye opening and life changing! We feel that it has completely changed the culture of the school. The conversations and research at the beginning of the year really led our environmental team to make changes. We were concerned that the changes might not last very long, but letting the students lead the change has been the key to its success. It’s excellent to see the conversations around the playground everyday. The students (and staff!) love checking with a Nature Ninja to confirm they are putting their rubbish in the correct place.

We were surprised how easy it was to get other schools and community businesses involved. With TV shows like “War on Waste” from ABC the community is aware of the effect humans are having on the environment, therefore they are keen to make changes.

On our recent year 3/4 excursion to Sydney it was lovely to see students pick up rubbish without being asked while we were at Taronga Zoo, then they even made an effort to put it in the correct bin. Many students found bread tags, lids and ring pulls on the ground which they took to a teacher to take back to our Recycling Zone…every little bit counts! A Nature Ninja also asked the zoo staff if we could take the lids from breakfast back to school. It was lovely to see our recycling efforts don’t just happen on school grounds, which confirms this whole process has been worth the effort!

The fact that Maitland’s landfill area, known as Mt Vincent Road Waste Management Centre, sits on Wonnarua country only about 30 kilometres from our school is very disturbing to us. It has built a desire to respect, reduce, reuse and recycle.

We are delighted how many conversations we are having with staff and parents about how they are changing their buying, recycling and reusing practices at home too.

Where to next?

With the end of the year drawing near, our Nature Ninjas are planning ahead for next year. We have the following ideas in the pipeline.

• Introduce nude food/zero waste days

• Plan lessons around wants and needs to reduce general consumption

• Build a yarning circle to complement our existing gardens and show respect to our Aboriginal community, as it would be a community space for all people to use.

Our most exciting news is that we are working with Lower Hunter Landcare at the moment and they are seeking grants on our behalf to run a community project for Lochinvar Creek. Lochinvar Creek runs under the New England Highway not far from the front of our school, then bends around and flows along our back fence. The project aims to clear the area of introduced species and weeds. Our students, plus invited community members, will then plant natives to encourage the local wildlife to return to our area. This project is expected to start in February.

Staff and students have really enjoyed the Kreative Koala journey this year as it has given us the kick start we needed to make necessary changes to improve our environment for the future. Without this project we would still be guessing which bin to put or rubbish in and disrespecting the environment by sending unnecessary items to landfill.

Meet Lochinvar Public School’s Kreative Koala

Lochinvar Public School .png

KK Sponsors

Anika Molesworth inspiring the next generation of changemakers and proving distance is no barrier to conecting rural and urban

 

“When I hear about what these students are doing – I could not be prouder!

Having youth talk so passionately about climate change solutions for a sustainable agriculture sector makes my heart sing.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I am part of the Picture You in Agriculture  programs which connect me in far western NSW to students 1,000 kms away so we can share ideas and stories. There are no other programs which make such an impact on the lives of young people – both rural and urban – like these ones, when it comes to farming and sustainability.”

Anika Molesworth Young Farming Champion,  Australin Financial Reveiw 2019 100 Women of Influence, Young Australian of the Year Finalist

Students participating in The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas love getting visits from their Young Farming Champions but it’s not always possible for the two to meet physically. Enter technology. Using tools such as Zoom and Skype YFC Anika Molesworth recently took her climate change message to James Erskine Public School (JEPS) and Hurlstone Agricultural High School (HAHS).

Anika at HAHS .png

Anika and the students from Hurlstone Agricultural High School 

Students from JEPS were already on a sustainability trajectory before a giant white fibreglass koala landed on their doorstep. They have been involved in Clean Up Australia Day and National Tree Day, they maintain a vegetable garden, a sensory garden and a bee garden, and they recycle paper and cardboard weekly. They have begun collecting recyclable containers through Return and Earn and have used the credit to adopt a orangutan through WWF.

They are also using their Kreative Koala to focus on climate change and so Anika was a perfect fit to virtually zoom into the classroom. “Anika described life on her farm and how it is affected by climate change and the kids were like little sponges and asked some very relevant questions,” teacher Taryn Pears says. “The kids wanted to know what they could do and after listening to Anika they were saying things like ‘I’m going to waste less food’ and ‘I’m going to take shorter showers’. Anika targeted them very well.

“Personally, I was blown away by the number of young women in agriculture. I have some female students who I think would make outstanding agriculturists and Anika has definitely sparked their curiosity.” Taryn Pears Teacher Erskine Park Public School

 

Anika at James Erskine Update (3)

Anika and the students from James Erskine Public School 

Down the road from JEPS secondary students at HAHS are working on another masterpiece for The Archibull Prize as they study sustainability and biosecurity in the sheep and wool industry.

“We were able to get in touch with a Young Farming Champion, Anika Molesworth, via a Skype call, in which she discussed the effects of climate change on far western NSW and gave us insights on her view on how to tackle the issue as the young generation,” the students said in their Archie blog. “We could all definitely sense her strong passion towards her agricultural work as she educated our team with her amazing presentation on how we, as individuals, could make a difference to climate change with our social, political and consumer influence.”

Using modern platforms of communication Anika is having effective and inspiring conversations with both primary and secondary students – the next generation of young climate champions.

Check out this very clever call to action from the students at Hurlstone Agricultural High School

Hurlstone Agricultural High School entry in the animation section of The Archibull Prize 2019 

Katherine and Deb Bain – farming AgVocay in the genes

For seven years from 2006 the Farm Day program initiative of Deb Bain introduced urban people to the delights and challenges of farm life, and although the program ended in 2013 its effects are still being felt and appreciated. Those effects have rippled all the way through to Deb’s daughter Young Farming Champion Katherine Bain and teachers in the 2019 Kreative Koalas – Design a Bright Future Challenge.

Cassandra Lindsay is a teacher at Oxley Park Public School and driver of their successful Kitchen Garden project. She is also helping steer the school through Kreative Koalas and she recently met Katherine at the Picture You in Agriculture Teacher Tocal Professional Development Day. The two shared conversations that led to their shared connection with Farm Day. Cassandra took part in the program in 2012 and Katherine’s mother was the person who instigated it.

Katherine Deb and Cass.jpg

“My husband read about this program where you could meet a farmer so we put our names forward and were invited to visit a family in Quambone,” Cassandra says. “We thought participating would open not only our own eyes but those of our children.”

Cassandra, her husband and two sons stayed with the O’Brien family at their property ‘Yahgunyah’, where they helped with fencing, rode in large farm machinery, locked their car (which they still laugh about) and experienced genuine hospitality from people they had never met before.

Farm Day Blog 1

“We realised there was a stark contrast to our lives, such as buying groceries in bulk, storing food and reliance on water – things we take for granted on a day-to-day basis,” Cassandra says, “but we were welcomed with open arms and treated like family, and we gained an understanding of how they managed their farming practices including crops and cattle.”

Katherine’s mother Deb Bain believes it was not only an opportunity to start new conversations with city cousins, but it provided farming families with a much-needed energy boost.

“From the farmers’ point of view so much was learned as well,” Deb says. “Farmers realised people were interested in them and that was really inspiring and positive for them to see. It refreshed their vision of what a farm can look like from the outside.”

Bain Family .png

The Bain family: David (left), Alexander, Deb, Katherine and Georgia at their Stockyard Hill farm. The only son, Alexander, 21 is studying architecture. Photo creditJoe Armo Source 

For Katherine, the advent of Farm Day came at a pivotal moment in her life. “I was heading into high school where there seemed to be a much larger disconnect to where food comes from compared to primary school,” she says. “I think a lot of that was to do with the shift towards more academic study instead of ‘hands-on’ learning. So I was seeing what mum was trying to achieve by bringing city and farming families together in a positive situation, but then at school there was just no talk of a career in agriculture unless you were going down a biology research path.”

Although Cassandra’s Farm Day visit was brief it heralded a life-long friendship with the O’Briens staying with her own family on several occasions. The two families remain in contact seven years later via phone and Facebook. “Remaining in contact has allowed me to understand the highs and lows of farming life and the sacrifices they make as a family at times when farming is tough. We have seen our farm family experience severe drought with not enough feed for the cattle and failed crops due to lack of rain and it is devastating for us to sit on the outside and look in and have no real way of helping.”

Deb is encouraged by this engagement between city and country. “It is wonderful to hear Farm Day has created long-term conversations about agriculture in urban lives,” she says.

Katherine finds a similar engagement as a Young Farming Champion.

“Meeting Cassandra at the workshop was like two worlds colliding,” she says. “ Here was a teacher who had done Farm Day and is now educating kids on food and fibre. It was so lovely to hear that even all these years later there are still lots of fond memories of Farm Day. In a way, I think the YFC has picked up from Farm Day in creating a bridge and a platform for people with no connections to Australian agriculture to talk to people on farms and hear their stories. I’m very proud to be keeping the Farm Day spirit alive and carrying it on into the YFC.”

Cassandra now takes her understandings from Farm Day and Young Farming Champions to the classroom at Oxley Park Public School. Though her students may not experience life as a farm child does, Cassandra is able to instil in them an appreciation and an insight into the world of farming as it produces the food they eat and the fibre they wear.

“I am truly grateful for Farm Day,” she says. “It gave us memories and experiences that shaped our family’s ideas and respect for our farmers.”

Tallong Public School creating lifelong environmental heroes

Mega proud of the students and teachers at Tallong Public School maintaining the rage to protect our endangered species

Last year their efforts to protect the Tallong Midge Orchid saw them win Grand Champion Kreative Koala.

grandchampion-tallong.jpg Simon Tedder from the Office of Environment and Heritage was so impressed with the students dedication he offered to help them set up a native garden in their school grounds. This has led to the students deciding their native garden would provide a habitat for glossy black cockatoos. 

Tallong Public School.jpg Tallong Public students planted about 80 Allocasuarina littoralis trees at their school in April 2019.

Each student at Tallong Public school added more glossy black-cockatoo foraging habitat to the landscape by planting Allocasuarina feed trees in their school grounds. With great enthusiasm from Tallong school staff and the new principal, Scott Osborne, the Glossies in the Mist team were welcomed onto the school to share fun facts about glossy ecology and plant trees during short workshops with the students.

The students and Glossies in the Mist team installed the feed trees in an eroding embankment which will stabilise the area and create a nice wind break to the students playing fields. At one point, the team heard the distinctive flight calls of a glossy black-cockatoo and looked up with the students to observe a pair, flying directly over us – the students were captivated!

Glossy Black Cockatoo

The Glossy Black-cockatoo is a charismatic, beautiful bird. It is also vulnerable to extinction.

So proud of these wonderful Australians – sending  a big congratulations to the students and staff at Tallong Public School and their Glossies in the Mist support team for contributing to this new foraging habitat and taking on the role as glossy black-cockatoo custodians in their local area. Source 

The Power of the Koala to create the Ripple Effect

This story not only shows what can happen when you bring schoools, students and teachers together with community experts, it show the power of passionate people

As you will see from the students responses in this video Simon Tedder had a phenomonal effect on the students when he visited (they even named their Koala after him) as their Kreative Koalas Community Champion in 2018. As did his colleague Lorraine Oliver on the students at Braidwood Central School. Simon and Lorraine are part of an incredible team of passionate people at the NSW Department of Environment who wake up every day 100% committed to engaging farmers and the community to work together to protect our endangered species.

Special shoutout to them this week as we celebrate people we perceive to be heroes by their courageous actions that go above and beyond