Future land managers find their feet in nature
  • Wednesday 08 May 2019

When asked their favourite activity from a day out at Annie Hehir Road Environmental Reserve, students from Peachester State School enthusiastically shouted out a myriad of answers.

That’s what you get when you give curious kids an opportunity to engage with the environment in a handful of fun ways.

For the second year in a row, 59 students from Grades 3-6 joined Jinibara Elder Jason Murphy, Martin Fingland from Geckoes Wildlife and Sunshine Coast Council Environmental Operations officers for an environmental education workshop on Friday, May 3.

Environment Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay praised the students, teachers and parents involved for their contribution to support nature conservation.

“We’re thrilled to have these kids at the reserve again, learning about creatures of the night, critters in the water, planting trees to grow more habitat, and becoming future land managers,” said Cr McKay.

“Along with the school, it’s our goal to teach them the tools and techniques of the conservation trade at an early age.

“By observing wildlife in its natural environment, learning about the cultural significance of the land and species living here and actively giving back to this reserve, these students now have a personal connection to their natural surroundings.

“This bond between the students and the reserve will last for years and help them become future ambassadors for the environment and its wildlife.”

Parent Sally Joyce helps students at school with their Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program and Enviro Club activities, but agreed that bringing the students out beyond the school grounds helps spark their curiosity and love for the environment.

“This was a muddy, hands-on dive into the natural ecosystem so close to our school,” said Mrs Joyce.

“With Jinibara Elder Jason Murphy, the children learned about the strong connections between animals and plants, and how the Jinibara People pass knowledge to one another through the animal totems they are given at birth.

“The children loved receiving their own animal totems for the day before they broke off into groups for the various activities.

“They then took turns assessing macro-invertebrates collected from nearby creeks to determine the health of the water, donning binoculars and learning some bird finding techniques, planting native trees and shrubs, and meeting nocturnal native animals with the help of Geckoes Wildlife – always a favourite!

“Several of us came back later in the evening for a spotlighting tour, guided by Dr Scott Burnett of Sunshine Coast University and Tony Bright, a local naturalist.

“We all learned nighttime observation techniques and were thrilled to find some giant snails, a great barred frog and some freshwater spiny crayfish burrows.”

Council is proud to showcase the beauty and importance of our environmental reserves, and Annie Hehir Road Environmental Reserve is no exception. This 45-hectare property is one of 557 environmental reserves managed by council for conservation and public enjoyment and was purchased through council’s Environment Levy program.

Council looks forward to hosting students from Peachester State School again next year. For any other schools interested in opportunities such as this, please visit the ‘Get involved in conservation’ page on council’s website, sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au.