Empowering Youth to Tackle Marine Debris: Tangaroa Blue Foundation Presentation at Lake Macquarie High School

Let’s talk about making a real difference in our environment, starting right in our own backyard. Thanks to the Lake Macquarie Youth Week Grant, last week Tangaroa Blue Foundation visited Lake Macquarie High School for an eye-opening workshop on marine debris. 

We were lucky enough to reach 58 enthusiastic Year 9 and Year 10 students, plunging headfirst into the world of marine conservation. We kicked things off with an interactive session, diving deep into the impact of marine debris on our precious ecosystems and how it ends up in our oceans. From brainstorming solutions to pinpointing hotspots of rubbish around their school, these students were fully engaged in finding ways to make a change.

After the talk, it was time to roll up our sleeves and get hands-on. Armed with gloves, bags and determination, the students set out to clean up a pre-decided area on their school grounds which they deemed a “hotspot”.  All students agreed that the strip of land between the blocks that led downhill straight to the lake should be the area they focused on. And boy, were they right! In just one hour and a half, they cleared a whopping 4.8 kg of debris from over 550 m², 500 items in total. Talk about teamwork!

Back in the classroom the real fun began. Sorting, counting, and cataloguing the debris they collected was a hands-on lesson in environmental stewardship. With 500 items audited, these students got up close and personal with the problem, identifying the most common culprits and brainstorming a source reduction plan they could implement at their school based on their findings.

One of the most common items to show up in the clean-up were pens. The student suggested and workshopped a pen-specific recycling program for the school, essentially creating a source reduction plan targeting this item. It’s these simple yet effective strategies that can really make a difference, and these students were all over it.

However, it wasn’t just about picking up trash. Tangaroa Blue Foundation’s workshop empowered these students to become stewards of their environment. They left with a newfound connection to nature and community, eager to continue their conservation journey.

And the best part? This workshop was just the beginning. These students are now equipped with the knowledge and tools to run their own clean-up events using the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) methodology and app. Plus, they’re buzzing with ideas, like forming a Youth Environment Advisory at their school to tackle environmental issues head-on.

So, what’s next? Well, these students are ready to roll up their sleeves and make a real difference in their community. Whether it’s volunteering with Tangaroa Blue Foundation or diving into the ideas they formed for source reduction plans within their school, the future of marine conservation is in good hands.

Keep an eye out for these young changemakers. With their passion and dedication, the future’s looking brighter than ever for our oceans.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation would like to thank the Lake Macquarie City Council for funding the 2024 Lake Macquarie Youth Week Grant which made this school engagement opportunity possible.


Youth Week at Lake Mac

With the support of Lake Macquarie Council, Tangaroa Blue’s Kirralee worked with 58 Year 9 and Year 10 students from Lake Macquarie High School on the 10th of April as part of Youth Week activities.

The workshop began with a fifteen-minute interactive presentation about marine debris, how it impacts our environment, possible solutions for these problems and how Tangaroa Blue Foundation and the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) strive to work with our network to tackle this issue. Students were asked to workshop how the issue of marine debris could be handled in their school environment and also within their daily lives. This included brainstorming where possible hotspots of rubbish on their school grounds might be, how the rubbish got there and how to propose solutions to their principal.

After the workshop, students chose a possible rubbish hotspot on the school grounds and worked together to conduct a clean-up activity following the AMDI data collection methodology. Students cleaned 4.8 kg of debris from more than 550 m² inside their school grounds. All debris was brought back to the classroom to be counted, sorted into categories, weighed and all data entered in the AMDI Database using the AMDI App by the students. In total 500 items were audited by the students. Students used the debris data they collected to identify the most common and/or problematic items collected. Working together, they brainstormed a Source Reduction Plan (SRP) for each item within the school to prevent these items from entering the environment in the first place. For example, one of the most common items collected was pens and the students suggested a pen-specific recycling program to be introduced within the school.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation empowered students to select and clean-up a site on their school grounds, fostering a sense of belonging to nature and community while addressing marine debris. Collaborative brainstorming activities further enhanced peer engagement and a shared sense of belonging among students.

This Youth Week grant allowed students to build a connection with Tangaroa Blue Foundation giving them a tangible way to protect the environment. Students who were interested in volunteering with Tangaroa Blue were encouraged to register on our website, sign up for our newsletter, and follow us on social media to learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Finally, the workshop built the students’ capacity to continue running their own clean-up events using the AMDI methodology and AMDI App to encourage them to continue to care for their local environment. Students were very engaged about the environment and proposed forming a Youth Environment advisory in the school so that environmental issues such as marine debris could be further addressed.

The Results Are In!!

The Tangaroa Blue team are proud to share the results of the 2023 WA Beach Clean-Up in our annual event report which features case studies from each of the participating NRM Regions as well as some interesting statistics from the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) Database.

Over 1400 volunteers from 50 organisations removed an incredible 3.5 tonnes of marine debris and litter from the West Australian coastline, working collectively to protect the precious and unique marine life that calls WA home. The 2023 event saw increased clean-ups, engagement and stakeholder collaboration in the South Coast region and some incredible support from long-term participants such as Perth NRM, Coastal Waste Warriors, Prevelly Penguins and Friends of the Cape to Cape Track.

We would like to send out a big blue thank-you to our ongoing sponsors Keep Australia Beautiful WA and TallWood Custom Built Homes and a big welcome to our newest sponsors, Southern Ports Authority and GHD. This event would not be possible without your support!

You can download the 2023 WA Beach Clean-up Report here.

2024 marks the 20th Anniversary of this statewide event and we want it to be our biggest WABCU yet. The WA team look forward to celebrating with you all and sharing flagship event details in upcoming communications. This years WABCU will run from 11th-14th October and registrations will open soon!

Photo: Friends of the Cape to Cape Track hiking down to Kabbingup, South West WA