The world needs creative, innovative and courageous young people who can connect, collaborate and act. We know that youth may only be 20% of the population but they are 100% of the future. The time is now to let them share their dreams and design the future they want to see.
Five schools are set to benefit from one of Australia’s largest and most iconic charities supporting one of Picture You in Agriculture’s (PYiA) flagship programs.
St Vincent de Paul’s NSW Bushfire Recovery and Community Development Program is supporting PYiA to expand the reach of Kreative Koalas, growing our collaborations with other social and environmental nonprofits.
The schools – Bomaderry Public School, Hilltop Public School, Nowra East Public School, Robertson Public School and St George Basin PS – are located in Wingecarribee, in the NSW southern highlands, and Shoalhaven in the state’s southeast. Both areas were badly affected by the horrific 2019-2020 bushfires that swept across Australia.
“Through our collaborations with organisations like St Vincent de Paul and OzHarvest, through its FEAST program, we are nourishing both our country and our wellbeing,” says Lynne Strong, founder and national program director of PYiA.
John Fenech, the manager of Community Development Bushfire Recovery at St Vincent de Paul Society of NSW said that the charity was delighted to be joining forces with PYiA.
“’Vinnies’ and PYiA share common values in both being organisations focused on social justice and systemic change.
“Kreative Koalas inspires young people to investigate and reflect on global environmental and sustainability issues and translate that learning into action at a local level in their communities.” he says.
The Vinnies Bushfire Recovery and Community Development Program has three major areas of focus – future preparedness and building resilience, community cohesion, and environmental regeneration and sustainability.
“Vinnies views Kreative Koalas as aligning with all three, but particularly the resilience building and environmental sustainability,” says John.
Teachers say that the schools wanted to participate in Kreative Koalas program as they are “sustainability-driven” and already have existing innovative projects using kitchen gardens and recycling.
“We have community members who engage with these initiatives and as a school we are engaging action learning projects as a way of extending student thinking and engagement,” says one.
Another praises Kreative Koalas as a “leadership development program”, and wants to use it to build relationships between their school, the community, industry and business, as well as support students transitioning to secondary school. Another says that they had signed up to the program to teach pupils about “not living in such a throwaway society”. Others want their students to challenge themselves and to develop teamwork skills to allow them to communicate and work together effectively in the future.
Kreative Koalas along with The Archibull Prize and Young Farming Champions, PYiA’s other world-class flagship programs, aim to showcase the diversity of careers and career pathway opportunities in the agriculture sector.
We thank all our partners who are investing in the future by empowering young Australians to solve tomorrow’s problems today
One of the guiding principles of Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) is to introduce students to the world of work and encourage the uptake of agricultural careers by presenting the industry as an exciting option for a career with purpose.
Together with our supporting partners PYiA delivers the in-school programs Kreative Koalas ( primary students) and The Archibull Prize (secondary students) to ensure career development begins on the first day of school.
This life-long learning journey is further strengthened by the engagement of Young Farming Champions, a cohort of young agricultural professionals who relate easily to students.
Align with the National Career Education Strategy using bottom-up tried and tested innovative localised approaches targeting wants and needs of teachers, students, parents and carers.
Support partnerships to thrive between schools, education and training providers, employers, parents and carers, and the broader community.
Ensure students have transferable skills that equip them for the future of work.
Our surveys and research over the last decade have proven this to be a highly effective model of keeping agriculture careers front of mind, improving agricultural career outcomes, creating educational pathways and catering for the needs of teachers and students and the future workforce and employers.
Kreative Koalas is an action learning program for primary school students that introduces them to the world of work through connection to the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals. Kreative Koalas embeds sustainability across multiple Key Learning Areas of the school curriculum and encourages students to develop external collaborations with professionals within their community; expanding their understanding of the world of work as they learn how people in different jobs contribute to a sustainable future.
We were lucky to have the opportunity to have a Zoom meeting with farmer and environmentalist Karin Stark, whose family uses renewable energy (solar) to power their cotton and wheat farm. This was an extremely valuable experience, as students were able to develop their knowledge and understanding of how renewable energy can be used in different communities for different purposes.
The Archibull Prize then consolidates this introduction by showing students career pathways to sustainability though the lens of agriculture and asking them to investigate innovative approaches to problem solving in an industry that requires multi-disciplinary knowledge and skills. Throughout The Archibull Prize students develop the transferable 21st century skills that underpin employability for the future.
“Picture You in Agriculture’s school-based programs support the establishment of school-industry partnerships, connecting young people with the world of work in agriculture. Delivered to students K-12, these programs were adapted by teachers to meet the developmental needs of students and used to integrate a range of subject interests and skills into project-based learning activities. Teachers were empowered to collaborate with local community groups, employers, and organisations which meant the program activities provide effective career guidance in ways that are meaningful for students. It is promising, that in a year where teachers reported significant challenges with student’s engagement at school due to COVID-19 restrictions, that both The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas programs successfully contributed to the development of participants 21st century skills and increased interest in careers in agriculture.” Dr Nicole McDonald PhD in Vocational Psychology of Agriculture, BSci. (Hons.) Psychology Program Evaluation
Underpinning the success of both Kreative Koalas and The Archibull Prize are the Young Farming Champions (YFC). Due to their age (often not much older than the students they connect with) YFC become role models. They are memorable, credible, passionate about their industries and they disrupt stereotypical images of what a farmer is.
See how 2020/2021 Australian Young Farmer of the Year, Emma Ayliffe is sharing her journey to be a farmer with students here
Students learning from a YFC realise careers in agriculture can be high-level, STEM-based worlds of opportunity.
Value adding to the one-off engagement events like careers fairs offered by industry, YFC go into schools as part of a 12-week immersion process providing multiple touch points for learning and two way conversations. For these 12 weeks the YFC are basically on speed-dial for teachers and students.
YFC are trained by PYiA to be advocates for agriculture and positive role models for younger generations. Through their training they are given opportunities to practice in safe environments to become confident communicators and trusted voices in the communities in which they work and live. Horizontal development comes from online and in-person workshops where they build their skills and knowledge. Vertical development comes from the multiple opportunities to stretch themselves and interact with thought-leaders and strategists from around the world.
Our YFC represent a range of industries and professions in agriculture.
They firstly learn to lead themselves then, as alumni, they learn to lead others while being supported by mentors from their sponsor organisations or workplace and through the YFC alumni buddy system. This produces young people who understand the importance of listening to understand and are confident sharing their story with students and opening students (teachers, parents and influencers) minds to changing images and perceptions about careers. Our research shows that YFC as role models are the key to opening the door.
Through Kreative Koalas, The Archibull Prize and Young Farming Champions, PYiA is providing leadership and career development action learning opportunities for young people from Prep to early 30s; showcasing the world of work in agriculture and sustainability and providing pathways and skills for the workforce of tomorrow.
A little bit of trivia to show its working
Nationally, the most popular broad field of education (in terms of the number of applications) in 2020 was Health (74,780 applicants or 26.0 per cent of all applicants). This was followed by Society and Culture (69,036 applicants or 24.0 per cent) and Management and Commerce (32,516 applicants or 11.3 per cent).
Fields of education that recorded strongest growth in applications in 2020 were Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies (10.8 per cent), followed by Information Technology (9.8 per cent), Natural and Physical Sciences (3.1 per cent), Society and Culture (2.3 per cent), Education (2.0 per cent), Health (1.7 per cent), Engineering and Related Technologies (1.1 per cent) and Architecture and Building (0.7 per cent Source
At PYiA we believe leaders are made. They are products of their environments, of the people surrounding them, nurturing them, and INVESTING IN THEM.
Can you think of any substantial social and environmental movement that didn’t have young, fearless people at the centre?
Picture You in Agriculture was created 15 years ago to provide an opportunity for young people in the agriculture sector to take a holistic approach to building an understanding of, and capacity to address the complex issues (challenges and opportunities) facing the people and the places that provide the food we eat and fibres we use
By bringing together young people from different industries and different disciplines we are able to consider scientific and academic knowledge, as well as practical, local and personal knowledge. Our programs are action-oriented, continuously evolving in the pursuit of a common purpose and we respect we are all a product of our life experiences, different value systems and social norms.
We soon recognised we couldn’t do it alone and set out to foster long term relationships between government, education, business and the community.
Working with a diverse group of curious and open-minded people, facing complex challenges, generates a supportive culture and we are finding the learning curve is very steep. Identifying opportunities for external knowledge exchange has become a priority.
Working with schools has been such a joy.
Imagine if every single student from infants to primary to secondary school to tertiary education was equipped with practical skill sets to innovate and drive social and environmental change. In a time when students are seeking careers with impact and employers are demanding core skills of problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, and teamwork, it has been highly rewarding to help teachers equip students with the changemaking skills to tackle complex social and environmental issues and future challenges not yet imagined?
Its happening in our schools across the country. Teachers are embedding resilience, creativity, empathy, curiosity, collaboration and systems-thinking into the curriculum and we are very excited to be part of the movement providing schools with access to real people who can help their students investigate real issues and share their big ideas for the bright future we are all dreaming.
Schools are engaging with their boarder communities with the flow-on effect of helping the wider community improve their understanding about our natural and social environments.
At our 2021 Kreative Koalas launch event in the Hunter last week we invited teachers and students from St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School (Kristine Jones and Kristen Raymond) at Raymond Terrace and Medowie Christian School ( Martha Atkins) to share their 2020 Kreative Koalas journey
There is no denying teachers and students participating in Kreative Koalas in 2020 are champions
Today we are excited to share with you our artwork judge Wendy Taylor has selected her Top 5 koala canvases
This is what Wendy has to say about her Top 5 ( in alphabetical order)
Caragabal Public School
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a very Kreative Koala.
Dusty Paddocks is an environmental superhero. He is dressed in a drought landscape with a shirt literally from a farmer’s back. The dry caked earth has permeated everything and is overwhelming him.
However, glimpsed beneath his shirt is a hope for a better future for the land. The abundance of green life sprouting and barely contained beneath the shirt is due to good environmental and sustainable practices. They help the environment endure and recover from droughts, as well as helping to educate local communities.
The unique concept of life on the land and important messages behind Dusty Paddocks is very interesting and captivates the viewer.
Carlingford West Public School
Atlantis is a utopian ideal.
It depicts an idyllic view of the planet we live upon, where beauty and interconnectedness are paramount. Water, which is intrinsic to all life, runs through the design, connecting all elements. It looks at both the little details and the big picture.
It highlights the need for us to work harder to preserve this beautiful and delicate ecosystem as there is quite literally no plan B (or in the words of Atlantis, “no planet B”).
Our planet is one of a kind just like this unique Atlantis.
Emu Plains Public School
Big Barry shows us life below the water.
Beautifully capturing the shimmering and fractured quality of light through water, Big Barry is a clever collage of coral and creatures.
The multitude of colours and textures highlight the many integrated and complex elements which combine to create a coral reef. They show the importance of all elements being in harmony with each other. When there is an imbalance within a delicate ecosystem such as the Barrier Reef, events such as coral bleaching can occur.
Big Barry teaches us that what we do on the land can have far-reaching impacts.
Gol Gol Public School
There is a distinct buzz around this Kreative Koala.
Queen Koala Bee leaves no doubt as to her theme. She is a hive of activity with swarms of busy little bees feasting on her nectar. The importance of these workers cannot be underestimated.
Varieties of bees are cleverly shown as they comb the beautiful gum foliage and flowers for pollen. They teach us about their importance to our community and to the environment, not just through the honey they produce, but also through pollination.
Be careful you don’t get stung, and watch out for her gorgeous claws!
Raymond Terrace Public School
Disco Inferno is a puzzle.
Made from many interconnecting pieces, he is a mix of disco mirror ball and aboriginal dot painting. At once, both modern and ancient in technique and materials.
This is also true of the story being told. The beautiful story about traditional methods of firestick farming and being custodians of our land, is balanced with modern issues around bushfires and the plight of the koala. It highlights the need for a holistic approach to conservation practices and shows that the choices that we make in our local environments collectively impact the global picture.
Disco Inferno’s mirror ball allows the viewer to see their own reflection and ask ‘what can I do to help?’
Les Robinson is the author of Changeology. He’s an internationally acknowledge leading expert on the design of community change projects towards sustainability. His website is full of interesting resources: www.enablingchange.com.au
Overall Les says:
“I’m gobsmacked by the amazing creativity, energy and amount of work put into all the projects. These kids are brilliant creative koalas!”
Les shared with us why the Top 5 schools excelled
1) They thought strategically
They started with a big global problem, for example ‘hunger’. Then they logically drilled down to identify realistic actions students could really do to make a real difference in their school or community. And they backed the case with research, including data collection via surveys and audits.
2) They implemented substantial actions for change
Once they identified strategic actions, they followed through with real life efforts that touched many people.
Annangrove Public School: set up chickens, worm farm and composter; created a vegie garden, grew vegies and supplied them to Windsor Community Kitchen. They also established waste-free Wednesdays, and ran a school feast.
Medowie Christian School: created a kindergarten garden, ran a Foodway tin drive, and cooked up a whole school feast.
St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School: took a whole of school approach. They started with a survey of what their students were passionate about – that’s a great way to start because everyone has a chance for input. Then they chose not one, but three (!) projects. The steps for each project were logically set out so every team can see the strategy. And each project was implemented. The projects were hands-on, especially growing and cooking your own food – that’s the best kind of change-making, because you didn’t just ‘tell people why’, you ‘showed them how’.
St Marys North Public School: Created a bush food garden, and ran a nude food day that involved the whole school.
3) They were creative
They were fun, innovative and brought out students’ creativity.
Gardeners Road PS: ‘unplugged’ hour without power’ event, supported by a TV and poster campaign
4) They wrote clear reports that were easy and enjoyable to read
“When societies around the world were straining under the pressure young Australians were designing a future that will benefit farmers, consumers, and the planet for generations to come”
Agriculture is a sector that attracts substantial public attention. It is pivotal that the sector and everyone working in the sector can build and maintain relationships with a range of people, who often have diverse interests in what the sector does.
The building and maintaining of community relationships is crucial for the long-term future of food security. To deliver solutions that benefit the farmer, the consumer, and the planet for generations to come it is pivotal the agriculture sector takes collective action to create and deliver community engagement opportunities that encourage mutual trust and respect.
Building deep and lasting relationships between consumers and producers is at the heart of everything we do at Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA). PYiA aims to promote a positive image of Australian agriculture, encourage the uptake of agricultural careers and foster two -way conversations within the community.
To facilitate this PYiA identifies and trains emerging leaders (Young Farming Champions) in the agriculture sector to deliver our in school programs, The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas. A key strength of our in school programs is encouraging schools to identify and connect with trusted expertise in their local communities.
Asking them to take on our deep-dive, time-demanding, project-based learning programs and engage with diverse groups of people beyond the classroom seemed an impossible task.
Yet, rise to the task they did and it became abundantly clear to us that spreading the good word about Australian agriculture is not about one-day workshops or employer-sponsored conferences, but rather is dependent on the strong relationships we forge over the longer term.
Our Archibull and Kreative Koalas schools, too, came to value these partnerships and everywhere we turned we found examples of students, teachers, community, government and industry working together for a common goal of promoting prosperity while protecting the planet.
This collective action for collective impact model creates a community of people with collective intelligence.
It requires visionaries and champions within those organisations who are willing to experiment to find the most effective models.
In this post we are introducing you to some of the visionaries and champions who are supporting agriculture to build lifelong community relationships.
Local Land Services is a NSW Government land management agency delivering quality services to rural and regional landholders. Their visions and ethics align with those of PYiA and over the years we have formed a formidable partnership. In 2020 staff from LLS offices across the state worked closely with our Kreative Koalas schools.
Hunter LLS school engagement Officer Jane Lloyd-Jones was on the front line of this partnership. Building on her successful partnership with Medowie Christian School in 2019 Jane worked with Dungog Public School to raise awareness of the endangered red goshawk, and with St Brigid’s Primary School who adopted the endangered Hunter River Turtle as their mascot (and donated $300 to the Australian Reptile Park to aid its preservation). Exeter Public School and Chevalier College also benefited from visits from LLS representatives.
Pauline Dunne and Freddy Herrera from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) worked alongside Jane and the LLS, delivering presentations into schools in the Hunter to talk about biodiversity and conservation. Pauline recognised the value of this collaboration with LLS:
“Jane’s role as the Local Land Services schools education officer makes the process seamless for all of us. She was able to coordinate all the relationships between the educators and the Hunter Local Land Services and DPIE and Aussie Ark and there was a combined willingness to share networks and contacts.”
Hunter LLS and the DPIE was also invaluable in providing funding to support workshops designed specifically to meet the needs of teachers and students participating in both The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas. These workshops were facilitated by a dynamic group of leaders including Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education principal Kris Beasley, changeologist Les Robinson, science communicator Jenni Metcalfe, 21st century learning expert Josh Farr and John Holloway from the Murray Darling Basin Authority Education team.
NGOs can also play a pivotal role in raising awareness about the pivotal role farmers play in nourishing our country. OzHarvest’s FEAST, a food education program for primary students, married perfectly with Kreative Koalas and several schools chose to complete both in 2020. Annangrove Public School studied SGG 2: Zero Hunger with Kreative Koalas using their re-invigorated school garden and lessons learnt in FEAST to support the local Windsor Community Kitchen.
“We donate eggs and vegetables every fortnight to Windsor Community Kitchen and have decided that we will sponsor Windsor Community Kitchen and donate money to help them pay their rent, as well as donate food.”
Other schools participating in FEAST in conjunction with Kreative Koalas were Medowie Christian School, Primbee Public School and St Brigid’s St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School with the community being a major beneficiary of student fundraising and food growing efforts.
Indigenous influences were prominent in The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas. The Australian curriculum encourages teachers to create a culture where indigenous stories and language are fostered. More and more teachers are seeing Kreative Koalas and The Archibull Prize as ideal vehicles to foster indigenous knowledge. Many schools invited local Elders to present to students, indigenous designs were incorporated on artworks (such as the stunning rainbow serpent from Raymond Terrace Public School) and both cows and koalas supported names in local indigenous language.
“We used iridescent rainbow tiles with organic shapes to piece together a large Rainbow Serpent, to circle the design. We used no paint and created a design which literally reflects (due to the mirrored tiles) our ideas and exploration of Aboriginal stylised design and bushfire theme. Our koala will form the centrepiece of our new Aboriginal cultural garden at Raymond Terrace Public School.”
Calling on the knowledge of local heroes such as Indigenous Elders was a key part of relationships built during 2020. NSW Southern Highland schools Exeter Public and Chevalier College, who had been impacted by the 2019/2020 summer bushfires, connected with local fire brigades and used Kreative Koalas and The Archibull Prize as healing mechanisms.
“This writing [on their koala] allowed the children to express their feelings and emotions about the bushfires as it affected them and then focus on the positive aspect of the bush coming back alive. Kreative Koalas certainly has been a wonderfully informative and healing project to be a part of.”
In Kreative Koalas St Joseph’s School at Grenfell tapped into a wealth of local knowledge as they studied water sustainability. Weddin Landcare officer Melanie Cooper, John Holloway from the Murray Darling Basin Authority, Sally Russell from Lake Cowal Conservation Centre and “our local plumber” from Conron Stockrete all supported the students in their learning journey.
Similarly, in The Archibull Prize Innisfail State College in north Queensland, studying the health of their local catchment, called on a range of local experts. These included Innisfail Elder Alf Joyce (Uncle Alf), banana farmer Mark Nucifora, the Cassowary Coast Regional Council, Elders Innisfail and extension offices from Canegrowers.
“As an artwork, the Archibull has allowed students to engage with their region and the real-world issues they face within their futures. It has been an incredibly positive experience for all the students involved from the incursions and presentation sessions. More importantly, the painting of the cow has been a great experience for the students to connect, be creative together, communicate their ideas and support each other throughout this creative process. They have loved it and are very proud of their efforts.”
Looking back at the achievements of our 2020 Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas schools it is easy to forget that all their projects were constructed under the duress of a global pandemic. When societies around the world were straining under the pressure our young people were looking forward to the future. They were investigating, and actioning, United Nations Development Goals, using PYiA programs to heal, researching new ways to sustainably and regeneratively farm and, most importantly, making connections and forming relationships that will guide them into the bright future they deserve. Even in a pandemic we can take inspiration from our youth.
With “flexibility” being our key word for the beginning of the new decade thanks to our 2020 partners, teachers and students we are better placed for the challenge that will, no doubt, come in 2021.
In a year when a global pandemic has changed our way of life, students participating in the modified 2020 Kreative Koalas competition were still profoundly impacted by climate change (Sustainable Development Goal 13) and its effect on life on land (Sustainable Development Goal 15). The most obvious example of this was bushfires.
In 2019 Raymond Terrace Public School won the title of Grand Champion Koala for their exploration of climate change and bushfires. They continued this theme in 2020 with the creation of a brilliant mosaic koala called Disco Inferno.
Disco Inferno has no paint but is covered in glass and plastic tiles and buttons. Iridescent tiles forming a Rainbow Serpent circle the koala. Flames are depicted around his base, he wears an Ambassador 2020 sash and beneath his eyes are tears cascading down his large cheeks and covering the lower half of his face, as the students asked the question: would a river of tears quench the land ablaze?
“We created a design which literally reflects (due to the mirrored tiles) our ideas and exploration of Aboriginal stylised design and our bushfire theme. Our koala will form the centrepiece of our new Aboriginal cultural garden at Raymond Terrace Public School, and should last the test of time with many small hands touching across its vast surface when they are drawn to explore and consider the story telling embedded within our creation.”
Disco Inferno is stunning, bedazzled and jewelled.
At first glance Kevin, the koala from Emu Heights Public School does not seem to have a connection to fire, swathed as he is in beautiful blues depicting the natural environment of the Blue Mountains.
But even Kevin has a fire story:
“In the hot Australian summer we had a lot of bushfires that burnt many trees around our school that had to be cut down. Due to the loss of these trees many koalas and other Australian animals and plants lost their homes. As a grade we decided we would help our native animals and plants by giving them a new home!”
Kevin represents the school’s new sustainable garden with its native bees, birds and butterflies, and Kevin inspired the students to build a butterfly house and a bird house from scratch. Bee houses were purchased and painted and Kevin now sits proudly in the garden amongst bottlebrush.
Climate Clive, the koala from Launceston Church Grammar School – our sole Tasmanian entry – reminds us that life on earth is fragile, and bushfires feature prominently on his body.
Clive’s base is an underwater scene but his body soon transforms to the oranges and blacks of a bushfire inferno. One small piece of green is on his nose.
“The students wanted Climate Clive to tell a story of the human impact on our environment both under water and on land. The narrative the children illustrated included the devastation of recent bushfires, pollution and the spiral effect on our animals and plants. The symbolic representation of the germination on the koala’s nose signifies regrowth and hope for the future.”
Clive is representative of all bushfires that impacted Australia at the beginning of 2020 and shows the effects the fires have on our young students.
The effects of fire on students and their communities was dramatically illustrated on Gula (the Gundungurra language name for koala), the entry from Exeter Public School in the Southern Highlands. The most striking feature of Gula is the 3D-printed Glossy Black Cockatoo flying out of the flames in a scene that creates hope and resilience.
“In January 2020 our local area in Exeter was impacted by the Currowan Bushfire. Our town was evacuated in the middle of the night. It was a very unnerving and scary time for the children of the local area.”
Gula is a split personality koala illustrating both the devastation of bushfires and regeneration. He features photos of the fire and writing from the students describing their experiences. The words hope, resilience and regeneration are written upon his body.
“The stories from the children allowed them to express their feelings and emotions about the bushfires as it affected them and then focus on the positive aspect of the bush coming back alive. It is also defined by the resilience shown by the students. Little did they know that further resilience would be needed with COVID. It has been a very challenging year, and as a school we are very proud of our students and many ways they have overcome the impact of the fires and the courage they are displaying in looking forward positively towards the future. Kreative Koala certainly has been a wonderfully informative and healing project to be a part of.”
Our 2020 Kreative Koala Kids have done a health check on our planet and made decisions about what global issues are in their control to take local action on
They have devised action plans and put them into practice. We look forward to checking in with them in 12 months time to see how they have maintained the rage and delivered permanent behaviour change in their schools and communities.
In the third of our Kreative Koala kids artwork showcases we introduce you to the Young Australians who are thinking deeply about water and energy
With young Australians being highly aware the country they live in is the hottest. driest inhabited continent its not surprising that they are very focused on ensuring we have access to clean water and renewable energy
The United Nations has created 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Several of these encapsulate our attitudes to water SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production [including water use] and SDG 14: Life Below the Water). SDG 7 looks at affordable and clean energy. Five of our 2020 Kreative Koalas chose to explore these themes.
A tap sprouting from his head is the most arresting feature of Marang Galing Barrandhang (Good Water Koala) from Grenfell’s St Joseph’s School. Every other element of their koala flows from this tap.
Marang Galing Barrandhang is a kaleidoscope of activity . The wetlands of Lake Cowal are featured, as is the Murray-Darling river system. The students have used a combination of bright and dark colour schemes to illustrate different water use practices and the oranges of droughts through to the blues of their recent rain.
Looking at water use has inspired St Joseph’s to change its own water use practices.
“Our school has recently implemented a new, more sustainable, school watering system for our playing oval, green spaces and garden beds. To achieve this, we connected to the local council’s reticulated wastewater system. We installed tanks at our school to store the treated water. The water from the tanks was then connected to our existing pipework. This will ensure our students have green spaces to play on, even during droughts which are common in our area. This offers far better water sustainable practices!”
Watch the students talk about their Kreative Koala journey here
Water sustainability was also the theme for Carlingford Public School who created a koala named Atlantis.
“When you look the Koala in the eyes you are confronted with the view of our Earth. This flows into a waterfall as water is essential for life on Earth. From the water grows our strong trees representing life on land and this links to the back legs showing the oceans and life below water; the land and water are linking. The contrast of the sunset and starry night creates a feeling of planet Earth travelling through space. This heightens the fact that our planet is precious – there is no Planet B! Our artwork aims to highlight how special and unique our planet is and how we must all work to save our amazing home!”
180 Year 6 students from Carlingford connected with fellow KK participants Gol Gol Public School to learn about the Murray River and take inspiration from this for Atlantis.
Watch Carlingford West Public School learning journey here
From the Murray River our KK schools turned their attention further north when Emu Plains Public School created Big Barry to spotlight coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. Big Barry is a riot of painted paper collage, as bright and vibrant as a healthy reef.
“Most of the reef is bright, colourful and full of diverse species living in this habitat. This represents both the past before the seas had an increase in temperatures and the future, of what we hope to preserve and keep if we make the right changes today. A small portion of the reef is pale, white and brown to represent the bleached coral.”
Portals on Big Barry give the viewer a deeper insight into this water story: one portal shows trees that absorb excess carbon dioxide, another shows deforestation and just below Barry’s heart is a portal showing a light bulb, a direct reference to energy consumption.
“Students have learned that small actions of theirs can have a domino effect for our planet. It matters if they leave the lights on all day. It matters if they make a conscious effort to turn it off. It matters if we cut down trees. It matters if they plant more trees and shrubs in their own backyard.”
Caragabal Public School, between Wagga and Parkes, looked out their own back door and chose to look at water in another way – the lack of it. Their community has been affected by hard drought in recent years and so the students created a koala named Dusty Paddocks and researched drought sustainable farming practices.
Dusty Paddocks features a weathered hat with 3D agricultural machinery and a brown shirt coated with pot fragments to represent parched earth. Both the hat and shirt were donated by local farmers. The shirt overlies a beautiful blue koala and opens at the front to reveal a Superman suit, because these kids can save the planet.
“Dusty Paddocks was designed by kids who were just coming out of an incredibly harsh three-year drought. These students were able to put all their pain and stress of farming in drought into their designs to make something that was truly authentic and cathartic for them. The students’ names are each written on a claw of the koala to show their ownership. It is about the hope for a better future for their land and their families.”
Watch Caragabal Public School on Behind the News
Being the only school to look solely at renewable energy makes Gardener’s Road Public School unique in the 2020 KK competition and their koala Windston shows off the sun and the wind, representing both solar and wind power.
“The artwork includes three dimensional structures, representative of Gardeners Road Public School, solar panels and wind turbines (students found solar panels to be one of the most easily accessible energy sources within Australia, even in a built-up, suburban areas like the city of Sydney) and symbolises the connections and partnerships formed between diverse communities, including rural farming areas and inner-city areas.”
As part of their journey into energy use they initiated “Unplugged” where the entire school turned off electricity for an hour. This in turn encouraged students and their families to be more conscious of their energy consumption, or as one student commented:
“I have learnt so much about energy, you could almost call me Einstein. We have spread so much awareness, so hopefully more people will be interested in making changes too.”
Students created their own TV channel to raise awareness about energy efficiency and promote life changing habits
Our next post will share with you the impact of the bushfires on our young changemakers
In our second post sharing our 2020 Kreative Koalas entries we connect with you the big ideas and the call to action from the schools who chose to focus on how we can work together to save Australia’s threatened species.
Koalas have been headline makers throughout 2020 and Penrith Valley Learning Centre chose this topical avenue to look at urbanisation, land degradation and destruction of habitat as they asked: Can we save the koala? The result was this super impressive koala named Urban Connection.
Urban Connection has 3D sculptures protruding from all over his body, representing buildings and road encroaching on the koala habitat. He has building waste representing land degradation and a bundle of sticks representing loss of trees. He has burnt bark representing fires from last year and a red cross representing the Port Macquarie koala hospital. He even has a coin and note slot for donations to help save the koala.
“This [the coin and note slot] allows students, staff, family and community members to contribute money that will be donated to the Koala Hospital, or a like organisation. It is our hope that these creatures will be here for future generations.
When you hear the wind rustling the leaves high up in the trees, stop and listen, for it is the spirit of the koala calling to you.”
Dungog Public School in the Hunter Valley designed a superhero koala named Gydgy to highlight the cause of local endangered animals, in particular the Red Goshawk that is on the brink of extinction.
“We decided we should split the koala in half and represent things that are destructive to our environment and the endangered animals in our area on one side and the things that protect it on the other side. On one we placed things like hunters, pests, pollution and bushfires. We felt these had the biggest negative impact on the environment in our area. On the good side we placed some of the endangered animals in our area, a beautiful lush forest, and some people working on planting trees. We felt these showcased the biggest positive effect we have on our area. We wanted to give the koala a superhero mask so that he felt like he was ready to fight for our endangered animals!”
Gydgy also features a film-strip representing the ‘heroes and villains’ movie the students made with heroes including Eucalyptus Woman and Red Goshawk.
Also looking at endangered species in the Hunter Valley was St Brigid’s Primary School who focussed their attention on the Hunter River Turtle and gave their koala the Gathang language name for turtle of Hunter Bila Guraa. So this creation is half koala, half turtle!
Hunter Bila Guraa’s head is the colours of aboriginal flag making him a biodiversity warrior. The school vegetable garden is strategically placed on his tummy, his sides represent the good and bad outcomes for threatened species, his front legs are the local Hunter and Williams Rivers and the Hunter River Turtle (and new school mascot) straddles his back.
“Our koala is unique as he is the only koala who wanted to become a turtle. We researched lots of designs to ensure we did something original. With his large turtle back and a Gathang name to identify him, we think our turtle is one of a kind. The situation of the Hunter River Turtle is dire and we feel passionately about changing this.”
Through their fundraising efforts St Brigid’s was able to donate $300 to the Australian Reptile Park for specific use on their new Hunter River Turtle enclosure.
You can watch St Brigid’s digital learning journey here
Two schools chose to research the impact of our actions on bees. They were Gol Gol Public School and Primbee Public School. Queen Koala Bee was the entry from Gol Gol Public School in Mildura.
Queen Koala Bee, with her grey head and dark green body, is lovingly covered in a swarm of hand-made bees – both European Honey Bees and Australian Native Blue Banded Bees. Together the bees form a crown on her head.
“Queen Koala Bee sits majestically in our school office to welcome guests and visitors. Her loyal swarm of bees are hard workers and keep up the important task of educating the importance of bees to our community and environment. Students are now excited when they see a bee, especially a native Blue Banded Bee and they thank them for what they do.”
The Gol Gol KK project incorporated putting together seed packets and ‘how-to-make’ bee hotel instructions in a sealed packet. A packet was then given to the youngest sibling of each family. The students are excited to watch their flowers grow and attract their own bees.
Primbee Public School in Warrawong (Wollongong) cheekily combined their school and suburb names to come up with Warrabee, the rainbow coloured koala championing bees.
Primbee students participated in OzHarvest’s FEAST program growing and cooking their own food and realised the importance of bees in their own garden.
“On the back of our koala we have a silhouette representing our gardens. Every class has a session where they go out to our playgrounds and contribute to making our gardens more presentable. Above the silhouette, we have a selection of colours that represent our classes. pink at the top for Grevillia, red for Bottlebrush, yellow for Wattle, green for Eucalyptus, blue for Bluegum and lastly purple for Jacaranda.”
Bees represent the sustainability initiatives Primbee Public School is undertaking including worm farms, gardening, collection and recycling of food waste, and the construction of a wooden bee hive. Warrabee illustrates their ideas on sustainability and shows their true colours!
The United Nations has created 17 Sustainable Development Goals and each school participating in Kreative Koalas is tasked with choosing one main goal to study. For the very first time several schools chose SDG 2: Zero Hunger so let’s look at their artworks as they do their bit to feed the world and realise the importance of school gardens.
Looking at clean water scored Medowie Christian College the title of Grand Champion Community Project for Change in 2019 and this year the talented cohort turned their attention to zero hunger, with their koala appropriately named The Hunger Hero.
Inspired by their school garden and their participation in OzHarvest’s FEAST program, Medowie’s Hunger Hero is a palette of school-produced food including fruit trees, pumpkins, apples, chickens, corn stalks and root vegetables.
“It was excellent and surprising to see that, even though this garden was located in our main infants play area, NO ONE disrespected our garden. All students looked after it, made sure it was cared for and our plants grew healthy!”
As part of their project Medowie also collected over 150 tinned items, which they donated to Medowie Foodway, for distribution in the community to those finding it difficult to find enough to eat.
Another school helping those less fortunate in their own community was Annagrove Public School who donated school-produced eggs and vegetables to Windsor Community Garden.
“We donate eggs and vegetables every fortnight to Windsor Community Kitchen and have decided that we will sponsor Windsor Community Kitchen and donate a portion of the money we raise on mufti days to help them pay their rent, as well as donate food.”
Annagrove’s koala Badayla (an aboriginal word for food) is also a pictorial exploration of the school vegetable garden and, as an added bonus, holds a container for the collection of food scraps, which are then fed to the school’s chickens.
Annagrove also participated in FEAST and were surprised at how easy it was to incorporate sustainability, not just in terms of food, into their daily lives.
“We now find that we are more aware of the impact we are having on our environment with everything we do. Another surprising thing was how we had a positive impact on other people we knew (some of our parents were even asking us for ideas and tips). Our parents, friends and family all showed changes in their behaviour through seeing and hearing about what we were doing.”
Watch their learning journal
Willow, from St Mary’s North Public School, was the third koala representing zero hunger and she is a split personality koala. The beautiful blue side of Willow depicts a sustainable world where everyone has enough to eat, while her orange side depicts the opposite. The students ask us: “Which world would you choose?”
The school garden also played an important role at St Mary’s giving students an appreciation for the hard work that goes into producing food. Their Kreative Koala ideas began in the garden and morphed as this crazy year of 2020 progressed through drought, fire and a pandemic.
“These changes also evoked fear in the students: what will happen to our world when we are in lockdown, how will we get food? This is how the students directed their focus on Zero Hunger, which then lead to studying the SDG’s Life on the Land, Responsible Consumption and Production and Climate Action.”