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.

 

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