Hinchinbrook Reef Guardian Schools Future Leaders Eco Challenge 2014

Students from Bambaroo State School, Cardwell State School, Ingham State School, Our Lady of Lourdes, Trebonne State School and Victoria Plantation State School headed over to Cardwell for the 2014 Hinchinbrook Future Leaders Eco Challenge on September 3rd.

The days’ activities were kicked off with a Welcome to Country ceremony by Uncle Claude Beeron, Traditional Owner Elder for Girramay People. This was followed by an introduction of the FLEC and schools participating by Carolyn Luder, Reef Guardian Schools, GBRMPA. The FLEC day offers fun and hands-on activities for students and teachers to help raise awareness and understanding about the Great Barrier Reef. Cardwell is uniquely placed to be a meeting point between the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics World Heritage Areas.

Students were divided into groups after the opening ceremony. The groups were the crocodiles, dolphins, rays, starfish, sharks, sea snakes, puffer fish and the barras. Groups participated in a range of activities during the day including water quality and fish tagging workshop, a marine debris introduction and beach clean-up and a wetland walk.

Peta from Tangaroa Blue introduced the issue of marine debris including the impact it has on animals and habitats of the Reef. Students discussed ways to keep debris from the ocean including the three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle rubbish. Students were given data sheets from the Australian Marine Debris Initiative so they could contribute data during their beach clean-up. On the way to the clean-up students explored the Wetland Walk and learnt about the importance of habitats like Melaleuca forests and woodlands for endangered species such as the mahogany glider.

Equipped with gloves, a scribe and a bag, students conducted a clean-up of the foreshore. In only 20 minutes students collected 63kg of rubbish. The Marine Debris Education Kit from Tangaroa Blue is free to access and can turn a clean-up into a fun, curriculum-linked activity.

Students from Cardwell Junior Rangers ran three activities. The first activity introduced visiting students to the islands located off Cardwell. The Junior Rangers then described the different types of animals found around Cardwell like dugongs, turtles and curlews. During the last activity students really got to get their hands dirty through building garden beds and planting seeds. Visiting schools were given trays of seeds to take back with them with a range of herbs and vegetables.

Emphasis on leadership
Students were selected to represent their school and take ideas and lessons learnt during the day back to share with others. The FLEC workbooks will help students to remember information they learnt on the day to present to others. What a wonderful group of students with inquiring minds and innovative ideas! Each school received certificates so students can receive recognition of their participation at an upcoming opportunity at their school.

If you would like further information on the 2014 Hinchinbrook Future Leaders Eco Challenge please contact Carolyn Luder, Acting Reef Guardian Schools Program Manager, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Ph. 4750 0850; E:carolyn.luder@gbrmpa.gov.au.

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