15 April 2021

The kids are taking the future of the South Coast into their own hands

| Lottie Twyford
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Narooma High School students standing around a water bubbler

From left: Narooma High School students Lincoln McCloud-Scott, Zane Kawetin-Smith, Stefie Ovington and Jaycee Cantrell were among 14 young people who attended an environmental sustainability camp this April. Photo: Supplied.

When it comes to taking action on climate change, there is most definitely no time like the present.

And it seems that, these days, it’s young people and their bright ideas who are leading the charge.

That’s what inspired 14 students from years 9 and 10 to take part in a residential sustainability camp at ‘The Crossing’ in Bermagui this April. Students from across the Eurobodalla Shire were in attendance and Narooma High School, Batemans Bay High School, Moruya High School and St Peter’s Anglican College in Broulee were represented.

Camp facilitator Dean Turner said even the constant rain could not dampen the students’ spirits.

An initiative of Eurobodalla Shire Council, the camp is designed to nurture local young environmental leaders and inspire them with fresh ideas for action. Activities focused on a range of pressing issues for the region including conservation management, sustainable design, sustainable energy, water and waste management.

Students also learnt about plant selection and land management in order to mitigate and prevent bushfires.

As well as this learning, students were able to experience sustainable living off the grid at ‘The Crossing’, a purpose-built farm stay.

READ ALSO Narooma’s coastal waters a beacon of climate change

Eurobodalla Shire Council’s sustainability education officer, Gillian Kearney, said students had been selected for participation based on interviews that gauged what issues are foremost on their minds.

“We see the camp as an opportunity to inspire students who want to make changes and step up in ‘all things environmental’ within their school community and beyond,” she said.

“We introduce them to likeminded peers in an inspiring setting with trained facilitators who can demonstrate practical ways to be more sustainable through things such as energy efficiency, renewable energy solutions, waste minimisation, water saving, ecology and permaculture.”

Mr Turner was impressed with the students’ efforts this year, in particular referencing a sustainable design session that resulted in great ideas, including a school secondhand shop for textbooks and uniforms, and a school source separation bin system to ensure compost goes to agriculture plots and that paper and cardboard are also separated and shredded for the agriculture department.

Other ideas floated at the camp included integrating the food tech menu with the agriculture department’s growing schedule to ensure seasonal produce is prioritised, as well as proposals to capture and save water, and making sustainable design a school elective subject.

And it’s not all just learning and planning as students will now go off and try to implement their environmental projects at their respective schools. Participating students will now be interviewed in term two in order to follow their progress.

Ms Kearney said many alumni of the camp go on to partake in council’s Young Legends Mentoring Program, which continues to provide mentors who work with students and school environmental leaders throughout their senior years, which inspires and facilitates new projects.

“We see this as important work because what we’ve found is that when sustainability and environmental practices are taught through our schools, kids take these good habits and mindset home, sharing it with their families and friends.”

More information about Eurobodalla Shire Council’s environmental school education programs can be found here.

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